Inventing to prepare for future learning: The hidden efficiency of encouraging original student production in statistics instruction.

Schwartz, D. L., & Martin, T.
Cognition and Instruction.

Activities that promote student invention can appear inefficient, because students do not generate canonical solutions, and therefore the students may perform badly on standard assessments. Two studies on teaching descriptive statistics to 9th-grade students examined whether invention activities may prepare students to learn. Study 1 found that invention acitivities, when coupled with subsequent learning resources like lectures, led to strong gains in procedural skills, insight into formulas, and abilities to evaluate data form an argument. Additional, an embedded assessment experiment crossed the facets of instructional method by type of transfer test, with 1 test including resources for learning and 1 not. A "tell-and-practice" instructional condition led to the same transfer results as an invention condition when there was no learning resource, but the invention condition did better than the tell-and-practice condition when there was a learning resource. This demonstrates the value of invention activities for future learning from resources, and the value of assessments that include opportunities to learn during a tests. In Study 2, classroom teachers implemented the instruction and replicated the results. The studies demonstrate that intuitively compelling student-centered activities can be both pedagogically tractable and effective at preparing students to learn.,