Experimental Evaluations of Elementary Science Programs: A Best-Evidence Synthesis

Robert E. Slavin, Cynthia Lake, Pam Hanley, Allen Thurston

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    This article presents a systematic review of research on the achievement outcomes of all types of approaches to teaching science in elementary schools. Study inclusion criteria included use of randomized or matched control groups, a study duration of at least 4 weeks, and use of achievement measures independent of the experimental treatment. A total of 23 studies met these criteria. Among studies evaluating inquiry-based teaching approaches, programs that used science kits did not show positive outcomes on science achievement measures (weighted ES=+0.02 in 7 studies), but inquiry-based programs that emphasized professional development but not kits did show positive outcomes (weighted ES=+0.36 in 10 studies). Technological approaches integrating video and computer resources with teaching and cooperative learning showed positive outcomes in a few small, matched studies (ES=+0.42 in 6 studies). The review concludes that science teaching methods focused on enhancing teachers’ classroom instruction throughout the year, such as cooperative learning and science-reading integration, as well as approaches that give teachers technology tools to enhance instruction, have significant potential to improve science learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)870-901
    Number of pages32
    JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
    Issue number7
    Early online date29 Apr 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


    • science education, elementary schools, research review, experimental evaluations


    Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental Evaluations of Elementary Science Programs: A Best-Evidence Synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this