Perspectives of Hands-On
Science Teaching

David L. Haury and Peter Rillero, 1994
2. What are the benefits of hands-on learning? How do I justify a hands-on approach?

Teachers who embrace hands-on learning in science seem to recognize certain desirable outcomes and endorse student-centered instructional approaches. Research has confirmed many of the seemingly intuitive benefits of hands-on learning and has also documented a variety of unanticipated benefits. But what effects of hands-on learning are seen by advocates as most important or valuable?

Teacher Responses

Developer Thoughts

Notes from the literature


There are a plethora of benefits that teachers and curriculum developers adduce to hands-on learning to justify the approach in science. Benefits for students are believed to include increased learning; increased motivation to learn; increased enjoyment of learning; increased skill proficiency, including communication skills; increased independent thinking and decision making based on direct evidence and experiences; and increased perception and creativity. Research supports many of these claims by providing evidence that the learning of various skills, science content, and mathematics are enhanced through hands-on science programs. Students in activity-based programs have exhibited increases in creativity, positive attitudes toward science, perception, logic development, communication skills, and reading readiness. These benefits seem more than sufficient justification for promoting hands-on learning. However, Jeff Brodie provided an important addition - it makes science fun for both the student and teacher. Given the recent concerns about science anxiety and avoidance, enjoyment of science learning seems a worthy goal to be considered in choosing instructional approaches in science.

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