Do we learn better by reading or listeningFeatured science projectScience project video

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Complexity level:
7
Project cost ($):
5
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 2 days for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

None

Abstract

This experiment was performed to find out if students are able to learn better by listening or by reading. The experiment was done by giving the participants one comprehension passage to read and one to listen to.

Hypothesis

Students who listen to the comprehension passage read to them will retain more information compared to students who read the comprehension passage themselves.

Background

Learning by reading and listening

Learning in a classroom consists of both reading and listening. As the teacher scribbles away on the whiteboard or blackboard, we are rushing to read what is being written and copying it down in our exercise book. While writing, the teacher is also trying to explain the lesson to us. We usually have to listen, understand, read and write at the same time!
But which is the better method for learning, reading or listening? It may depend on the individual and the subject being taught.

Although people use both sides of their brain to comprehend and learn, most people have the tendency to use one side more than the other. This will actually determine how the person learns and which subject  he will be better at.

It has been said that subjects that are fact or information-based like languages, history and geography are easier to learn through listening the taking down of notes. However subjects like science, mathematics and engineering that require analysis and understanding require more time to learn and are better studied by reading.
 

Scientific Terms

Brain, left brain, right brain, comprehension

Materials

The materials required for this science fair project:

-    5 boys and 5 girls aged 15 years

-    2 sets of comprehension passages labeled A and B

-    2 sets of question papers for the above comprehension passages (labeled Paper A and Paper B)

-    A quiet examination room

-    An assistant to help coordinate the tests

Procedure

1.    For this experiment, the independent variable is the reading and listening of comprehension passages. The dependent variable is the results of the tests. This is determined by marking and grading the test papers. The constants (control variables) are the difficulty of the tests, the number of questions, the time given to read the comprehension passage  and the number of times the comprehension is heard.

2.    2 sets of comprehension passages  of equal difficulty are selected and marked A and B. For each of the comprehension papers, a set of 50 objective questions are prepared and labeled paper A and paper B.

3.    Model answers are prepared to mark and grade the papers after each test.

4.    On the day of the test, the students are given the comprehension piece marked A to read for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes,  the comprehension passages are collected back and the test paper labeled A is given to the students to answer. After 1 hour the test papers are collected back.

5.    On the next day of the test, the comprehension passage  marked B is read out to the students several times during the given  30 minutes. The test papers labeled B are given out to the students to answer. After 1 hour the test papers are collected back.

6.    All the 20 exam papers are marked and graded using the model answers and the results recorded in the table given below.
 

Observation

The results show that the students’ performance in the tests is better after listening compared to reading. The boys and girls scored higher for the test B compared to test A.


Grouping

Exam Paper A (%)

Avg

Exam paper B (%)

Avg

1

2

3

4

5

1

2

3

4

5

Boys

56

64

78

72

62

66.4%

72

68

86

76

74

75.2%

Girls

64

82

74

66

68

70.8%

68

88

84

78

76

78.8%


The graph below represents the results of our science project experiment.
Reading and listening learning science fair project

Conclusion

The hypothesis that students who listen to the comprehension  passage read to them will retain more information compared to students who read the comprehension themselves  is proven to be true.

The use of audio as a teaching tool has been around for sometime. Language and motivational tapes or  CDss are the most common. The advantage is thatI theyt can be listened to while doing other chores like driving, cooking or gardening. Listening to the tapes over and over again helps us to remember and retain  better.

Also consider

The experiment can performed on subjects of a different age group.

Try to compare the results by repeating the experiment using visual teaching like power point presentations or pictures.
 

References

Audio versus visual learning - http://www.ehow.com/about_5263298_audio-versus-visual-learning.html

The importance of reading and listening - http://www.english.hb.pl/articles/input/
 

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