Engaging young students in scientific investigations: Prompting for meaningful reflection

Travis Wilson, Michelle Perry, Carolyn J. Anderson, Dean Grosshandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the verbal prompts a tutor used to promote reflection and young students' responses to these prompts. Seven children (ages 8-12) participated in 260 min of one-on-one tutoring to learn scientific concepts related to gear movement; the tutor spontaneously provided these students with 763 prompts for reflection. Prompts reliably induced reflection: Students responded verbally 87% of the time. Turn-by-turn discourse analysis revealed seven distinct types of prompts and 11 distinct types of verbal responses. High-level prompts were strongly associated with high-level responses. A log-multiplicative association model with two dimensions (temporality and certainty) represented the relationships between prompt and response types; from this model, odds ratios estimated the strength of association between specific pairs of prompt and response types. Findings are discussed in terms of the effects that reflection may have on students' developing understanding of scientific concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-46
Number of pages28
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Elementary science
  • Reflection
  • Scientific problem-solving
  • Tutoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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