A Comparison of the Effects of Three Instructional Activities on Elementary Students' Retention of Information

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Glaser, Irene C.
McWhinnie, Harold
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of three supplementary instructional activities on young students' retention of information. The study was based on Dewian and Piagetian theory regarding the central role active involvement plays in cognitive development. The three supplementary instructional activities were a verbal review, an art-related activity, and a coloring sheet activity. Subjects were the second grade population (178 students in seven intact classes) of two schools representative of the urban/suburban school district in terms of test scores, racial mix, and student mobility rates. There was a control group and two experimental groups in each school, with an additional control group without pretest, to study pretest effect. A lesson about the American flag and one about deciduous trees was designed to utilize active questioning. After participating in each lesson, students in the first treatment group completed a coloring sheet; the second group, an art-related activity; and the control group, a verbal review. The treatments were designed to supplement regular classroom instruction, not as creative art activities. The study explored possible relationships between students' art-related activities and knowing, a reversal of traditional art education studies of the effect of knowing on students' art work. Multiple-choice and drawing tests were administered as pre and posttests. The ANCOVA procedure was used for data analysis to eliminate the effect of preexisting differences between groups. Flag lesson data analysis revealed no significant differences in information retention according to method, except on the drawing tests. The control groups outperformed the coloring sheet group to a significant extent indicating a negative effect of the rote coloring sheet activity on retention of information. Data analysis from the tree lesson revealed no significant differences between treatment groups. Students' tree schema appears to have played an unexpected but important role. Suggestions are made that will enable future researchers to avoid the problem this researcher encountered, in that the art-related activity group did not have time to complete their drawing activity. On three tests, females outperformed males to a statistically significant degree.