What Students Really Want in Science Class: The importance of good teaching practices-with and without technology

September 1, 2011

Nowadays, there are lots of digital resources available to teachers. Tools such as Teachers' Domain, an online digital library; interactive whiteboards; computer projection devices; laptop carts; and robust wireless internet services make it easy for teachers to use technology in the classroom. In fact, in one national survey, both teachers and students identified the use of animations, simulations, interactive whiteboards, and computers as essential to quality science learning experiences (Project Tomorrow 2008).

However-with or without technology-the principles of good teaching remain the same (NRC 1996, 2000). From digital resources to inquiry-based instruction techniques, what helps high-school students learn science? As part of a larger research project, my colleagues and I asked biology students in eight New York public high schools this question.

Here, we share the digital resources and other classroom activities students told us they think help them learn science. "What students want" closely resembles research on best practices in science instruction. Over and over, students said they are most engaged and motivated by hands-on activities, group work, and discussions: They value meaningful activities and want more active learning.