A comparison of the classroom dynamics of a problem-solving and traditional laboratory model of instruction using path analysis



The classroom dynamics (class setting, lesson structure, student interactions, and student behaviors) of a traditional laboratory and a problem-solving Search, Solve, Create, and Share (SSCS) model of instruction were compared using path analysis. Class setting was based on small-group/large-group settings. Lesson structure variables were problem finding/refining, research designing, data collecting, data analyzing, and evaluating. The student-student interactions variable was determined by student-student responding, student-student initiating, and student (self-) interaction; while the teacher-student interaction variable was based on teacher-student initiating and teacher-student responding. The dependent variables of student behavior consisted of attending, responding, following, soliciting, and giving. A causal model was hypothesized for both instructional models based on the independent and dependent variables. The hypothesized causal model was tested using path-analysis procedures described by Pedhazur (1982). The hypothesized causal models were adjusted based on path coefficients with levels of significance greater than p = 0.05. While the descriptive data indicated a similarity in the classroom dynamics of the two instructional models, path analysis indicated a difference in the classroom dynamics. In the traditional laboratory model, student behaviors did not correlate to lesson structure, class setting, or student interactions, whereas in the SSCS problem-solving model student behaviors correlated to aspects of the lesson structure, class setting, and student interactions.