Background: Complexity models have provided a suitable framework
in various domains to assess students’ educational achievement.
Complexity is often used as the analytical focus when regarding learning
outcomes, i.e. when analyzing written tests or problem-centered
interviews. Numerous studies reveal negative correlations between
the complexity of a task and the probability of a student solving it.
Purpose: Thus far, few detailed investigations explore the importance
of complexity in actual classroom lessons. Moreover, the few efforts
made so far revealed inconsistencies. Hence, the present study sheds
light on the influence the complexity of students’ and teachers’ class
contributions have on students’ learning outcomes.
Sample: Videos of 10 German 8th grade physics courses covering
three consecutive lessons on two topics each (electricity, mechanics)
have been analyzed. The sample includes 10 teachers and 290
Design and methods: Students’ and teachers’ verbal contributions
were coded manual-based according to the level of complexity.
Additionally, pre-post testing of knowledge in electricity and
mechanics was applied to assess the students’ learning gain. ANOVA
analysis was used to characterize the influence of the complexity on
the learning gain.
Results: Results indicate that the mean level of complexity in
classroom contributions explains a large portion of variance in posttest
results on class level. Despite this overarching trend, taking
classroom activities into account as well reveals even more finegrained
patterns, leading to more specific relations between the
complexity in the classroom and students’ achievement.
Conclusions: In conclusion, we argue for more reflected teaching
approaches intended to gradually increase class complexity to foster
students’ level of competency.
Translated title of the contributionUnterrichtliche Lernprozesse und Leistung: Wie die Komplexität von Interaktionen im Klassenraum die Lernleistung beeinflusst
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science & Technological Education
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)142-163
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2016
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    Research areas

  • Research in teaching and learning - Complexity, achievement, learning progress, video study, physics education

ID: 56518