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The influence of task structure on students' learning processes: observations from case studies in secondary school science

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This paper examines the impact of task structure on students' learning processes in the context of several case studies in practical secondary school science. Three levels of differentiated task structure were investigated: open (no structured in-task support), partially structured (some in-task support), or prescriptive (highly structured in-task support). Analysis focused on the students' social exchanges, particularly the nature of the talk and action during task resolution, and the quality of task outcomes. Reflections on the observations highlight where and how pedagogic tactics could be focused to support more effective social and cognitive interactions and thus higher-quality task resolutions.
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Keywords: cognitive development; scaffolding; science; social interaction; task structure

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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