A case study of a high achiever's learning of physical science.
This is a case study of the learning of physical science of a high achiever, selected on the assumption that instruction in learning strategies and styles used by successful learners may improve learning effectiveness of less successful learners. Operating in an interpretive paradigm, qualitative data was gathered by participant observation aimed at sensing the complexities of the case. A rich, holistic description is given, enabling readers to form naturalistic generalisations of their own. The data corpus spans three years and is composed of audio-recorded lessons and interviews, field notes and written material. Data collection, analysis and interpretation were done in an inductive, cyclic manner, guided by research questions about learning strategies used by the learner, instructional strategies used by the teacher, and the roles played by intrinsic factors, practical work and problem solving, in contributing to effective learning of physical science by the high achiever. The study implies that effective learning, even by the highly intelligent, involves struggle and requires the use of a variety of strategies. This fits a constructivist, rather than transmissionist, view of learning, and thus supports learner-centered transformations in South African education. The learner is interpreted to be intrinsically motivated by interest and a high regard for knowledge precision, elegance, and transferability, to use a large number of learning strategies, particularly while solving open-ended problems and performing practical investigations, in order to come to a deep understanding of physical science. The study suggests that teaching children how to learn, particularly by addressing their outlook on learning and introducing them to a variety of strategies, should be an aim of physical science instruction, and that interesting, open-ended, learner-centered tasks should be used in attempts to induce self-regulated learning.