The studies looked at the effects of a new style of teaching based on scientific reasoning with a first pilot in 2010, followed by a 2012 pilot designed to replicate it and improve implementation. The new curriculum used experiments and practical activities in class to teach scientific reasoning (formulating hypotheses, testing them and analyzing results critically) and encouraged students to discover fundamental concepts of the lessons through hands-on scientific examination. In the first pilot, a set of LEGOs was distributed for classroom exercises, and classrooms were encouraged to grow vegetable gardens if materials were locally available. The new curriculum also introduced science fairs at the end of the year for students to showcase the experiments they had conducted, sometimes using recycled materials.
4,634 third-grade students in 104 schools from around Lima Province participated, data came from tests covering science (the 3 main topics covered by the traditional science curriculum: “the human body,” “the environment,” and “physical world”), reading and writing abilities, and mathematics. Surveys of school administrators measured characteristics of each school, and surveys of teachers collected data on individual students, as well as any changes in their own perceptions of how to best teach science. Classrooms were also videotaped for analysis of how well each classroom implemented the new style, and additional analysis of differences in teaching styles across classrooms and regions.
The 2012 study sought to improve on implementation of 2010 study and was implemented by Universidad Cayetano Heredia (UCH). In this second pilot, teacher training was implemented more uniformly, and intensified, with weekly training in groups and classroom visits focused on pedagogy and implementation of the classroom exercises.