Interest, Instructional Strategies, and the Creation of Group Space
Research on small-group work and on whole class discussions has shown specific benefits for student learning. At the same time, research on interest stresses the generation of situational interest when particular learning conditions are met. This qualitative study explores whether the type of instructional strategy (small group vs. whole class discussion) influences triggering of situational interest about theoretical and practice-oriented pedagogical topics among preservice science teachers (N = 44). Triggering of interest was identified by participation rate, degree of comfort during interactions, and quality of arguments. Results show that whole class discussions of theoretical topics shifted towards practical teaching issues, while small groups sustained the theoretical nature of a topic. Both interaction patterns imply triggering of situational interest. But the small group interaction patterns indicate the collective construction of a “triple problem-solving space”, in which content, social/relational, and interest were balanced from the start; the whole class discussions needed first to renegotiate the content.