The aim of the present mixed-method study was to investigate task-based situational interest of sixth grade students (n=46), between 12 and 14 years old, during an eight-week engineering design programme in a Science & Technology-class. Students’ interests were investigated by means of a descriptive interpretative analysis of qualitative data from classroom observations and informal interviews. The analysis was complemented by a self-report survey to validate findings and determine prevalence. The analysis revealed four main sources of interest: designing inventions, trial-and-error experimentation, achieved functionality of invention, and collaboration. These sources differ in terms of stimuli factors, such as novelty, autonomy (choice), social involvement, self-generation of interest, and task goal orientation. The study shows that design tasks stimulated interest, but only to the extent that students were able to self-regulate their learning strategies.
International Journal of Science Education, 2013, Vol 35, Issue 12