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Maryse Honorez, François Remy, Brigitte Monfort, René Cahay & Jean Therer – Laboratoire d’Enseignement Multimédia (LEM), University of Liège
Bulletin d’Informations Pédagogiques
Researchers, Teachers
Over 10 pages
This article first describes Giordan’s allosteric learning model than reports a research carried out in several classes of chemistry and physics in which this model was used and its effects on students’ learning.
The main objectives of the allosteric model are:
- Spelling out the main characteristics of the act of learning: learning is built by the students, constantly adapted to new information. Learning is not automatic and students can be confronted to obstacles.
- Identifying the obstacles to learning: 1) lack of information, 2) the students refuse to change their conceptions, 3) they think they already know, 4) they do not have the necessary tools to understand and assimilate new information, 5) the new information contradict their own conceptions.
- Providing practical information on educational environments that make learning easier. The environment disturbs students’ conceptions through confrontations: between students (their different conceptions), between students and reality (observations, experiments...) and between students and information (teachers, books...). Thanks to those confrontations, students realise their conceptions are poor or inadequate.
The research.
The research was conducted in chemistry and physics classes over two years with 5th year students (16-17 year old). In chemistry, the subject was the electrochemical cell (batteries). During the first year, the most common notions on the subject were determined with a questionnaire. Then “objectives-obstacles” were defined and tools created to make confrontations possible. Finally, the efficiency of the tools is evaluated with a questionnaire. The second year was divided in four steps:
1) A pre-test before addressing the subject to identify students’ conceptions and define objectives-obstacles (questionnaire “conceptions”);
2) Integration in the lesson of the created tools (experiment, videograms, CD-ROM) to meet the objectives-obstacles;
3) One week after seeing the subject, the students are evaluated with a questionnaire (questionnaire “subject”);
4) Five weeks after seeing the subject, post-test with the questionnaire on conceptions (used for the pre-test).
To identify their conceptions, 195 students were asked to create, in groups of 2 or 3, a concept map on the subject of batteries. The pre-test showed that students little used the concept of electrons, that verbs such as “be”, “produce” or “possess” were not understood and that students did not make links between the concepts of battery, condenser, accumulator... on the one hand and energy, intensity, voltage... on the other hand. The post-test showed that while students knew what batteries are made of, they do not know how they work. However, the number of students who successfully completed the “questionnaire subject” doubled after the experiment (even though it was still low, due to the complexity of the subject).
Giordan’s allosteric learning model can seem complex. What can it bring to the teaching of science?
To sum up, this model must make it possible to:
1. spot student’s difficulties (identifying conceptions) and translate them in "objectives - obstacles";
2. propose varied and targeted activities addressing those "objectives - obstacles":
3. cognitively disturb students in order to reconstruct their knowledge.
To follow the necessary steps of this model in a limited time, the following activities were chosen:
- different types of confrontation (discussion between the students and/or with the teacher, experimented in laboratory or demonstrated by the teacher, articles, simulations on CD-ROM, videograms);
- mobilising knowledge through varied exercises;
- using formalism (modelling and diagram).
Unsettling students’ conceptions is a crucial step. It requires choosing and carrying out "allosteric effectors", that is, supports that call to the students’ mind and unsettle their convictions, their conceptions. The proposed activities (experiments, exercises…) are used as a springboard to reconstruct correct and firm knowledge. The results of this research show that reconstruction happens at different speeds in each student and that, when they are in the unsettled phase, students to make sure, before carrying on, that knowledge has been restructured.
The new notions presented to the students based on multiples, repetitive and varied activities must get off the beaten tracks, from habits, to unsettle, stimulate and motivate them. However too many activities in too little time could overwhelm students and have the opposite effect.
It is observed that there is still a separation between science courses and that teachers’ collaboration with common material (subject, support...) should help students make links between the subjects of various disciplines.
The appeal of animated supports to students and also teachers must be pointed out, whether they are ICT or more “traditional” technologies (videos).
The article concludes that given its positive contribution, it seems desirable that future teachers be initiated to Giordan’s model through concrete situations that can be transposed in their future job as teachers.

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.03.30

Posted by Petar Rachev (Bulgaria)

Message: This article describes the allosteric model of learning Giordan, accompanied by a two-year study among students of 9th and 10th grades. Its main feature consists of several stages:
• Major difficulties for students - lack of information, ways of utilization of educational content ;
• Students do not assess the relevance of the knowledge ;
• Students easily conflict with teachers , because they are considered the major carriers of scientific information along with textbooks ;
• The purpose of the model is an open dialogue between students and teachers to break the so-called \" Barriers \" and to increase the effectiveness of teaching and the interest in chemistry and physics.

There is a very interesting approach to the realization of the study:
• Identification of the main difficulties in mastering the specific educational content;
• Setting a specific tool in presenting the material - experiment and ICT .
• Suggestions from students to overcome the „obstacles \" in the absorption of the material ;
• Structuring of exercises for specific topics of lesson content.
Naturally, the article also covers many other aspects related to the methodological and didactic approaches.
What struck me was the idea of the model Giordan - quest for empathic interaction between teachers and students.
Widespread practice in our education is the mentoring - the teacher says the book shows.
In 30 years of teaching experience I have intuitively sought to understand the difficulties of their students in mastering the material. I have used different methods and techniques to convince them of the fact that each of them can handle a certain level of specific scientific information.
The most commonly used method is my compilation of reports, messages, papers, accompanied by a summary of the topic.
This article made me realize that I should have consulted more often with students in terms of the main difficulties they have in mastering the content and the manner of presentation of the lesson material.
My teaching experience and knowledge combined with the fresh ideas and initiatives of students could optimize the teaching of chemistry.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.