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Student Receptivity and Teacher Challenges in Educational Innovationby@webism

Student Receptivity and Teacher Challenges in Educational Innovation

by WebismMay 29th, 2024
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Authors:

(1) Fabiano Villan, Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), Curso de Licenciatura em Física;

(2) Renato P. dos Santos, Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), PPG em Ensino de Ciências e Matemática (PPGECIM).

Abstract

Introduction

Theoretical Framework

The ZPD and Chat GPT as a Co-Advisor in Scientific Guidance

Methodology

Results and Analysis

Conclusions, Acknowledgements, Author's Contribution Statement, Data Availability Statement

References

APÊNDICE A

APÊNDICE B

RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

This section summarizes the results and analyses of the impact of innovative teaching-learning methodologies on the scientific initiation of students. Initially, the study investigates the students' prior knowledge of the scientific method and their willingness to engage in scientific initiation, as well as assessing the resistance of teachers to new pedagogical practices and the challenges in implementing the project. Subsequently, the research examines the variety of research themes chosen by the students and performance at the final showcase, including a brief statistical study on the influence of the type of guidance on the outcomes. Finally, the co-guidance by ChatGPT is described, with specific examples, highlighting its integration into enhancing research projects and the added value to the students' educational experience.

Initial Perceptions and Barriers to Educational Innovation

Firstly, the initial data collection from students revealed valuable information (Figure 4), such as the fact that 70.8% of students use Google as a research tool, while only 3.4% seek guidance from their teachers.

Figure 4

Analysis of research sources used by students.



Translation note:


2. When you want to know something or clear a doubt, what is your main method of research?


353 responses


a) I usually ask my parents

b) I usually ask my teachers

c) I always search on Wikipedia

d) I always search on Google

e) I always search on YouTube

f) Books, magazines


The results of the survey conducted during the first guidance sessions of the work groups to assess student receptivity, analysed using Google Forms, indicated that 68% of the students are predisposed to participate in the scientific initiation proposal, showing motivation and interest (Figure 5). However, the results also show that 32% of the students indicated some form of unwillingness, among whom, students from the 6th and 9th grades have the highest rates of rejection.

Figure 5

Survey of student receptivity to the scientific initiation proposal - Percentage of students predisposed and unwilling.



Translation note:


5. How do you feel right now, before starting the journey of Scientific Initiation?


353 responses


a) Normal

b) Nervous

c) I don't know

d) Excited

e) Looking for new things

f) Worried

g) Anxious, another thing I must do!

h) Motivated

i) I prefer not to say


On the other hand, the questionnaire administered to the 16 lead teachers, responsible for guiding the research groups, revealed little prior experience among the faculty on the use of the PBL methodology. Only 75% responded to the questionnaire, and we found that 66.7% of these teachers have no prior experience with PBL teaching methodology (Figure 6). These data highlight the difficulties encountered in applying the methodology and reinforce the need to provide clear guidelines and support to teachers.

Figure 6

Teachers' experience in scientific initiation guidance and PBL methodology - Percentage of teachers with prior experience.



Translation note:


8. Have you ever worked with project-based learning at school?


12 responses


Yes - 33.3%

No - 66.7%


Seeking a first reflection with the faculty about the difficulties in implementing the proposed methodology (Figure 7), other concerns stand out among the teachers such as allocating the necessary time for guidance (58.6%) and discomfort with guiding themes outside their area of expertise (25%).

Figure 7

Difficulties in implementing the proposed methodology - Teachers' concerns.



Translation note:


10. What is the greatest difficulty you believe can be encountered in the orientation process for scientific initiation that we are starting?


12 responses


Blue: Lack of interest from students

Red: Time management

Orange: Guidance on themes outside my area of training

Green: Little collaboration from families

Purple: Poor collaboration from other colleagues/peers

Light Blue: Lack of institutional support

Pink: Questions related to ethics regarding student participation in research

Light Green: Lack of financial resources of students


In a second reflection with teachers about the challenges in implementing the project (Figure 8), the underestimation of students by the faculty stands out, with 50% believing that the lack of student interest could be a difficulty. While the concern about guiding students on topics outside their area of expertise adds up to 41.7%. These challenges indicate the need to work on building teachers' confidence in their students, recognizing and valuing their capabilities, in addition to providing support in guiding the chosen themes.

Figure 8

Challenges in implementing the project - Teachers' concerns.



Translation note:


11. What's the second biggest difficulty that can arise?


12 responses


Blue: Lack of interest from students

Red: Time management

Orange: Guidance on themes outside my area of training

Green: Little collaboration from families

Purple: Poor collaboration from other colleagues/peers

Light Blue: Lack of institutional support

Pink: Questions related to ethics regarding student participation in research

Light Green: Lack of financial resources of students

Diversity of Themes and Selection for the Showcase

The themes chosen by the students reflected a wide diversity, and it is important to highlight that this did not imply a lack of availability from the lead teachers to provide guidance. The presence of the researcher in this school community was conceived as support meant to complement and assist the teachers in applying the PBL methodology. This approach demands not only IC guidance but also consistent follow-up, feedback provision, and support to the school community throughout the process.


Several research groups proposed cross-disciplinary themes beyond their advisors' areas of expertise (Table 1), with which most of the lead teachers expressed discomfort, as stated earlier.


Table 1


Contrast between some of the research themes and the areas of expertise of the respective advisors



It is observed that the research themes chosen by the students reflected not only their personal interests but also the influence of the social and educational environment.


Out of the initial 102 workgroups, only 90 groups (88.2%) presented research projects. Among these, only 30 groups (33.3%) met the necessary criteria to be classified for the second part of the scientific exhibition, which would be presented to the community later.


However, this reduction from 102 to 90 research groups did not result in exclusions but in guiding students to integrate with research themes and groups of interest to them, aligned with the PBL methodology. This underscores the influence of social relationships and the teacher in learning. This integration stimulated the revision of themes and the formation of groups, allowing the reallocation of participants. It reinforces student autonomy and the pursuit of knowledge based on their interests without excluding the curriculum. Moreover, it is important to note that the other 60 groups that did not fully meet the evaluative rubrics followed all the steps of the proposed research initiation, aligning with the principles of the PBL methodology.


In light of this process, the new challenge was to keep students motivated in their investigations and to assist schoolteachers in meeting all this demand for research initiation guidance on various topics.


On the other hand, the initial resistance from teachers was partly fuelled by the underestimation of student abilities. However, as students began to show interest and satisfaction with the environment being created, and motivation became evident, the guiding teachers clearly saw that the students were fully capable of engaging in the process. It is important to highlight that, from the beginning, the school showed unwavering support, remaining available for teachers, and adopting a proactive approach to facing resistances.


The dynamic interaction between students, teachers, and ChatGPT as a co-guidance aligns intrinsically with Vygotsky's conception of cognitive development mediated by social interaction. While Vygotsky emphasized the importance of collaboration for knowledge construction, the research demonstrates how technological mediation can expand this interaction and enable an even richer and more diversified approach. This convergence between theory and results strengthens the idea that the conscious use of ChatGPT can be an effective catalyst for transforming education, without losing sight of the pedagogical foundations that underpin teaching practice.


Throughout the research process, the researcher was directly involved for approximately 65 hours of guidance and development with the workgroups, including activities of probing, planning, and pedagogical and methodological practices.


The researcher directly guided 54 research groups with the help of ChatGPT on various topics, revealing a dynamic that can be understood in light of Vygotsky's theory. In this context, ChatGPT acts as an "extended cultural mediator," expanding the ZPD of students and teachers. In general, the research themes chosen by students from the 90 groups were related to various knowledge areas, revealing varied interests and significant engagement. The analysis of themes, as illustrated in Figure 9, shows that 18 (20%) of the topics addressed issues related to "Violence and abuse," while 13 (14.4%) of them relate to "Health and quality of life". Additionally, 8 (8.9%) of the themes were linked to "Social awareness" and 7 (7.8%) addressed themes within "Science and technology".

Figure 9

Diversity of thematic interests of the students from the 90 research groups.



Translation note:



Figure 9 reveals the different areas of interest of students concerning research themes. This distribution reflects not only the diversity of student interests but also the ability of the PBL methodology, with the support of ChatGPT, to stimulate the exploration of relevant and contemporary topics. Therefore, collaborative teaching practice integrated with active and transformative methodologies is essential during the teacher's mediation in the classroom.


This variety of themes required from the guides not only an interdisciplinary approach but also a sensitivity to cross-cutting issues, allowing teachers to promote the development of active citizenship and to build a responsible and inclusive social identity.


Notably, the enthusiastic participation of students in the SI projects and the tangible results achieved functioned as catalysts for the change in teachers' attitudes. Initially sceptical about innovative methodologies, educators were gradually witnessing a transformation in students' interest and attitude, which helped to overcome initial resistances. As the project progressed, the practice of SI was gaining support, becoming seen not only as a valuable learning opportunity for the students but also as a means of professional and personal development for the teachers themselves. These elements highlight the need to work on teachers' trust in their students and provide ongoing support in the process, validating the importance of social relations and teacher mediation in the teaching and learning process.


It is observed that students showed concern for a variety of themes such as "Drugs," "Science and Technology," "World of Work," "Health and Quality of Life," "Social Awareness," and "Racial Awareness." These themes are directly linked to citizenship and social identity, as well as interpersonal relationships. The concern with health and quality of life reflects the students' interest in understanding and promoting physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Social and racial awareness indicates a willingness to understand and contribute to relevant social issues, such as inequality and social injustice. These interests also demonstrate the maturity of the students and their willingness to engage in discussions and actions that are directly associated with their lives and society as a whole.


Analysing the relationships of interdisciplinarity, as shown in Figure 10, with the areas of knowledge, it can be seen that the research themes of the groups are predominantly related to the humanities, emphasizing sociology with themes of social, behavioural, and cultural involvement.

Figure 10

Relationships of Interdisciplinarity in the research themes, highlighting the area of human sciences and themes related to sociology, social, behavioural, and cultural involvement.



Translation note:


Interdisciplinarity among the Areas of Knowledge


Mathematics –6%

Other –61%

Linguistics –13%


Technology –5%

Sociology – 40%

Natural Sciences –15%

Other Human Sciences – 21%


Quality of Life – 10%

History – 15%

Environment – 11%

Geography – 15%

Sports – 12%

Biology – 31%

Drugs – 21%

Physics – 30%

Culture – 5%


Citizenship – 10%


It is also possible to identify research themes related to the natural sciences area, which includes disciplines such as physics, biology, history, and geography. These themes explore natural phenomena, biological processes, historical events, and geographical aspects associated with technologies like the Cold War and space travel.


Given this perception, the importance of exchanging experiences, skills, and challenges among the faculty is evident. Sharing information and knowledge is essential for an interdisciplinary approach, which is also advocated in the PBL methodology. This collaboration contributes significantly to the development of any project, where the focus is on student protagonism in an active and transformative teaching practice.


Table 2 presents the themes, areas of knowledge, and advisors of the 30 groups that were selected by external evaluators at the Scientific Exhibition, which occurred in June 2023.

Table 2

Themes, areas of knowledge, and advisor of the 30 groups selected for the June 2023 scientific exhibition.


Theme

Area of knowledge

Advisor

Belly Dance and Female Empowerment

Sociology

Researcher

The Disease of the Century: Anxiety

Sociology

Researcher

The Influence of Music

Language

Researcher

The Influence of Pythagoras on Mathematics Learning

Mathematics

Researcher

The Influence of Rapper Sabotage on the Current Brazilian Rap Scene

Sociology

Researcher

The Influence of Racionais MC's on Black Culture

Sociology

Researcher

Abuse and the Feelings It Can Bring

Sociology

Portuguese teacher

Attack in Brazilian Schools

Sociology

Sciences teacher

Calisthenics and Its Effects

Human Sciences

Phys. Ed teacher

Physical and Emotional Consequences of Artistic Skating on Female Bodies

Human Sciences

Researcher

Depression and Anxiety

Sociology

Researcher

Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest

Human Sciences

Researcher

Devaluation of Women in Brazilian Sports

Human Sciences

Researcher

Fake News

Sociology

Researcher

Extreme Aesthetic Factors

Sociology

Researcher

Femicide at Home

Sociology

Math teacher

Suicide Rates in Rio Grande do Sul

Sociology

Math teacher

Influence of Math Teaching Channels

Mathematics

Researcher

Gender Inclusion in Sports

Sociology

Researcher

The Habit of Physical Activity Outside School

Human Sciences

Phys. Ed teacher

The Impact of Rapper Sabotage on Rap and Black Culture

Sociology

Arts teacher

The Mystery of the Bermuda Triangle

Natural Sciences

Portuguese teacher

Obesity in Adolescence

Human Sciences

Phys. Ed teacher

Cats

Natural Sciences

Sciences teacher

Society's Standard

Sociology

Researcher

Why Do Attacks Happen in Schools

Sociology

Sciences teacher

The Cost of Your Shower

Mathematics

Researcher

A Study on Minecraft

Technology

Sciences teacher

Truths and Lies About the Movie Interstellar

Natural Sciences

Researcher

Domestic Violence

Sociology

Sciences teacher


It is worth noting the suggestive result that, of the 30 research groups qualified, 17 (56.67%) of them received direct guidance from the researcher, coupled with the co-guidance provided by ChatGPT (Table 2).


To investigate the possible influence of advising on the distinction of workgroups, a statistical analysis of the 90 participating groups was conducted. As mentioned before, of these 90 groups, 54 (60%) were advised by the researcher assisted by ChatGPT acting as a co-advisor, while the remaining 36 (40%) groups were advised by more experienced teachers. Of the 30 highlighted groups, 17 (31.5%) were among those 54 advised by the researcher with ChatGPT assistance, while 13 (36.1%) were among the 36 advised by various teachers.


The objective of the analysis was to determine whether the probability of a group being distinguished was associated with the type of advising received. Thus, the null hypothesis for the statistical test was that the chance of being distinguished would be independent of the advising, while the alternative hypothesis posited that there would be a difference in the proportions of distinguished groups between the two categories of advising.


The Fisher's exact test (Fisher, 1935) was used to evaluate the statistical significance of the association between the groups' advising and their distinction. The contingency table for the test was structured as in Table 3.

Table 3

Contingency table showing the relationship between the type of group advising and their subsequent distinction.



The test resulted in an odds ratio of 0.813, indicating a non-significant trend that the groups advised by the researcher with ChatGPT assistance were less likely to be distinguished compared to the groups advised by experienced teachers. The p-value obtained was 0.656, which exceeds the common threshold of 0.05 for statistical significance. Therefore, the data do not provide sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis of independence between the type of advising and the distinction of the groups.


These results suggest that, within the context of this study and the statistical power achieved, the probability of a group being distinguished was not significantly influenced by the advising profile, whether by the researcher assisted by ChatGPT or by the more experienced teachers.


Although the difference in the proportion of scientific initiation groups that were distinguished was not statistically significant, a promising trend was observed. Notably, 56.7% of the groups that were distinguished were those under the advising with the aid of ChatGPT. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that these 17 distinguished groups had the advising of a single teacher advising disparate themes, while the remaining distinguished groups were distributed among various teachers. This observation suggests a potential efficacy of using ChatGPT in the consistency and quality of the advising provided, pointing to the influence of unity in advising as a relevant factor for the success of scientific initiation projects.


This process of advising assisted by ChatGPT, including specific examples, will be detailed in the next subsection, providing a deeper understanding of this pedagogical approach.

The Co-Advising Process with ChatGPT

Initial Theme: English Culture (6th Grade)


This research theme addressed aspects of English culture, emerging from an interdisciplinary collaboration that brought together the knowledge of a researcher (Physics teacher) and the expertise of an English teacher. This process is illustrated through a representative dialogue (Figure 11), where the integration of ChatGPT into the advising allowed the researcher to guide the student group to explore various elements of English-speaking countries' culture, such as cuisine, seasons, music, and the historical and political context, providing a comprehensive and multifaceted view.

Figure 11

Dialogue during advising on the theme of English culture (6th Grade).



Translation note:


Here are some research topics for Elementary Education with a focus on English:


  1. English Culture - Research the history, traditions, and customs of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


  2. English Festivals - Research about the most popular festivals in England, such as the Notting Hill Carnival, the Glastonbury Festival, and Guy Fawkes Day.


  3. English Cities - Research famous cities in England, like London, Manchester, Liverpool, and Cambridge.


  4. English Literature - Research about the most famous authors in English literature, such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen.


  5. English Music - Research about popular music in England, from the Beatles to contemporary artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran.


  6. English Sports - Research about popular sports in England, such as football, cricket, rugby, and tennis.

  7. English Food - Research about culinary traditions, from the traditional Fish and Chips to regional dishes.


Although the English teacher did not interact directly with ChatGPT, her pedagogical practice was positively influenced by the collaborative dynamics and by the encouragement of cultural exploration within the scope of the research. The subsequent interdisciplinary study of English culture revealed the importance of embracing innovative approaches and the essential role of teacher mediation, which, even if not explicitly recognized, is crucial in promoting deep and engaged learning. The outcomes reflected the positive response of the students, evidenced by their satisfaction and the engagement demonstrated throughout the project.


The use of ChatGPT as an advising tool illustrates how technology can be used to expand the students’ and teachers’ ZPD, stimulating exploration and learning beyond their individual capabilities. The adaptation of the scientific method by the English teacher, inspired by the interdisciplinary collaboration, reveals a tacit understanding of the ZPD by balancing challenges and support to advance student development.


Initial Theme: Belly Dance (7th Grade).


Initially, a student, driven by an interest in belly dance, faced the challenge of defining the theme, identifying problems, and formulating concrete hypotheses. ChatGPT, as a digital co-advisor, played a crucial role by offering guidance that expanded both the advisor's and the group's understanding of the topic. Figure 12 illustrates this enriching dialogue.

Figure 12

Exploration of Belly Dance - Challenges and Guidance.



Translation note:


Hello! Here are some research topic suggestions related to women's empowerment through belly dance:


  1. Female Representation in Belly Dancing: This research can explore how belly dancing is a form of expression that celebrates femininity and empowers women. Students can investigate how belly dance can be framed in gender studies and provide a counter-narrative to gender oppression.


  2. Belly Dance as an Instrument of Body Empowerment in Different Cultures: This research can analyse how belly dance is perceived and valued in different cultures around the world. Students can explore how belly dance challenges social and cultural norms, offering women a form of artistic expression and identity affirmation.

  3. Belly Dance as Body and Emotional Therapy: This research can investigate the therapeutic benefits of belly dancing for women of all ages. Students can explore how the practice of belly dance can contribute to emotional well-being, mental-body connection, and self empowerment.


  4. The Role of Belly Dance in Women's Empowerment: This research can examine the role of belly dance as an instrument for women's empowerment. The research can explore the connection between dance and personal development, body empowerment, and the promotion of well-being.


Co-advised by ChatGPT, the group discovered that belly dance could transcend its artistic nature, becoming a vehicle for female empowerment. Driven by this new perspective, both the advisor and the students embarked on exploring how belly dance could contribute to strengthening women's self-esteem, fostering a more positive relationship with their own bodies, and challenging the deep-rooted gender norms in society.


The research evolved to encompass intersectional issues of art, society, and gender, reflecting the synergy between the students, the teacher, and ChatGPT. This dynamic collaboration allowed for a significant expansion of their ZPDs, encouraging the students to explore topics that were beyond their prior knowledge, such as the connections between belly dance and female empowerment, as well as that of the teacher, since he was challenged to provide guidance on a subject far from his own training.


The student's statement, “I am very happy and proud, it was only with your guidance and that of the teacher that I managed to better understand what to do and then it was easy,” highlights the importance of the received advising and underscores the effectiveness of intentional educational mediation. It expresses the essence of Vygotsky's ZPD: with the appropriate support, students can overcome challenges and elevate their understanding and skills. This case exemplifies how effective mediation can be crucial for meaningful learning on complex topics.


Initial Topic: Amazon Deforestation (8th Grade)


The students' investigation into Amazon deforestation began with research on global forest deforestation (Figure 13), which revealed that the Amazon, one of the world's largest forests, continues to face deforestation.

Figure 13

Deforestation in the Amazon - Exploring the environmental impacts on the world's largest forest.



Translation note:


Which forest suffers the most deforestation in the world?


The forest that suffers the most from deforestation in the world is the Amazon Rainforest, primarily located in Brazil but also extending into other South American countries, such as Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guiana. The Amazon is considered one of the largest tropical forests in the world, encompassing about 67 million square miles. It is fundamental to global biodiversity, climate regulation, and the storage of large volumes of carbon. Unfortunately, deforestation in the Amazon has been a constant concern over the last few decades, mainly due to the expansion of agriculture, livestock farming, and mining activities.


Curiosity led the students to embark on a journey to understand and become aware of the environmental impacts and the relationship between deforestation and the Amazonian ecosystem, investigating deforestation rates over the past five years (Figure 14). This preliminary phase was crucial for establishing a factual foundation and awakening critical awareness among the students.

Figure 14

Deforestation Rates in the Amazon Over the Last 5 Years - Exploring the increasing challenges and impacts in an interdisciplinary manner.



Translation note:


Deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon vary from year to year. Here are the deforestation rates in the Legal Amazon, which is a defined area by the Brazilian government that includes the largest part of the Amazonian Forest in the country, over the last five years:


• In 2017, the deforestation rate was 6947 km², an increase of 29% compared to the previous year.


• In 2018, the deforestation rate was 7900 km², an increase of 13.7% compared to the previous year.


• In 2019, the deforestation rate was 9762 km², an increase of 23.5% compared to the previous year.


• In 2020, the deforestation rate was 11088 km², an increase of 13.6% compared to the previous year. • In 2021, data on deforestation is not yet officially available.


The increasing rates of deforestation in the Amazon are a global concern, as the forest is an important carbon sink and harbours a great variety of animals and plants. Deforestation could lead to irreversible biodiversity loss.


The experience of welcoming a new student to the research group highlighted the importance of sensitive and inclusive educational practices. His statement, “I joined the group later, but since I liked the topic it was easy to participate and introduce myself,” demonstrates the ease with which this student engaged in the project and illustrates the positive impact of an open learning environment that is interested in the study topics.


Delving deeper into the subject, the students explored Brazilian environmental legislation, seeking to understand the nuances of Amazon conservation policies. The following dialogue with ChatGPT (Figure 15) provided additional insights and critical guidance that helped shape the students' perspective on the effectiveness of existing laws.

Figure 15

Co-guidance and the search for relevant information for SI advising.



Translation note:


Yes, there are laws against deforestation in Brazil. The Brazilian environmental legislation includes various laws and regulations that aim to protect the forests and other natural ecosystems of the country. Here are some of the main laws related to deforestation:


1. Forest Code: The Forest Code, Law No. 12,651/2012, is a principal law that outlines the protection of forests and other natural ecosystems. The code establishes rules for the use and occupation of land, including the obligation to preserve areas of native vegetation on rural properties.


2. Environmental Crimes Law: The Law No. 9,605/1998, known as the Environmental Crimes Law, defines legal deductions for those who commit environmental crimes, including illegal deforestation.


3. Soy Moratorium: The Soy Morat [truncated]


As the students delved deeper into the topic (Figure 16), their ZPDs developed as they confronted the complexities of deforestation laws and how actions within and beyond legal boundaries affect the Amazon, considering the role of these laws in protecting the ecosystem. In this sense, the researcher sought to mediate learning, taking into account the cognitive development stage of the students, in line with Vygotsky's ideas.

Figure 16

Deepening understanding of the complexity of deforestation laws in the Amazon.



Translation note:


Yes, Brazilian law defines what is considered legal and illegal deforestation. According to the Forest Code (Law No. 12,651/2012), deforestation is allowed under some circumstances, provided that legal and environmental requirements are met. For example, deforestation for alternative land uses, such as for agriculture, livestock, and energy production, is permitted.


However, the Forest Code establishes limits for legal deforestation, based on the location and the type of vegetation present in the area. In addition, it is mandatory for the landowner to recover degraded areas and to conserve areas of permanent preservation and legal reserve.


Illegal deforestation, on the other hand, is carried out without authorization or in violation of legal provisions.


The educational process was enhanced using ChatGPT, which served as a resource to organize information and facilitate complex thinking. Figure 17 highlights the discussions that arose from this collaboration, encouraging the development of the students' critical thinking and a multifaceted analysis of the legal, social, and political issues involved in deforestation.

Figure 17

Discussions on the complexity of deforestation.



Translation note:


Legal deforestation is permitted in certain specific situations, such as for the expansion of agriculture and livestock, for the construction of infrastructure, and for energy production. In these cases, the removal of natural vegetation is necessary to facilitate these economic activities. However, the Forest Code establishes limits for deforestation and requires that the landowner carry out the recovery of degraded areas and the conservation of areas of permanent preservation and legal reserve.


Regarding the suggestion of planting and waiting for new forests to replace natural vegetation, it is important to remember that the natural regeneration of forests can take many years and, in some cases, may not be sufficient to recover biodiversity and its ecosystem services within the necessary time frame. Also, when natural vegetation is removed, many times the soil suffers erosion, loss of organic matter, and nutrient leaching. Therefore, investments in areas where natural vegetation has been removed are essential, both to promote the recovery of vegetation and to ensure the sustainability of development in the area.


One of the questions raised by the students, “If it is so difficult and takes so long to plant and wait for growth, shouldn't deforestation just be illegal?” led to reflection by the teacher and a productive interaction with ChatGPT (Figure 18), encouraging the development of the students' critical thinking and their understanding of the complexities of deforestation.

Figure 18

ChatGPT assisting in the organization of information and the direction of complex thought.


Translation note:


It is important to remember that not all soil-occupying activities are compatible with environmental preservation and biodiversity maintenance. Legal deforestation can be permitted in some specific situations, provided that the legal limits are respected and that there are measures for environmental compensation and recovery.


On the other hand, illegal deforestation, carried out without authorization or in disagreement with legal and environmental requirements, is considered an environmental crime and must be combated by the appropriate legal authorities. Additionally, illegal logging can damage the country's image in the international community, affecting exports and international trade.


Therefore, it is important to seek a balance between economic development and environmental conservation.


In conclusion, the adoption of the PBL methodology and ChatGPT as a guide in undergraduate research proved to be fundamental in expanding the students' ZPD. The teacher's mediation, aligned with the findings and challenges presented by the project, was crucial for guiding the students in their exploration of the complex legal and social aspects of deforestation, promoting meaningful and profound learning, aligned with the principles of Vygotsky's ZPD.


Initial Topic: Gender Inclusion in MMA (9th Grade)


The research on gender inclusion in the sport of MMA began with a diversity of opinions among the students, highlighting the intrinsic complexity of the topic. The initial interaction, captured in Figure 19, shows the teacher's guidance, which, by fostering constructive debates, encouraged the students to expand their understanding of gender inclusion, aligned with Vygotsky's concept of ZPD.


As discussions deepened, the students, guided by interactions with ChatGPT (Figure 20), explored various facets of gender inclusion in MMA. This pedagogical approach encouraged critical questioning, enabling them to develop a more nuanced comprehension of the social implications and the issue of gender equality in the MMA sports context.

Figure 19

Beginning of Research on Gender Inclusion in MMA



Translation note:


The inclusion of gender in the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) means that both men and women can equally participate in this sport. Although the involvement of women in MMA is relatively recent, their participation has grown rapidly and today there are several prominent women in this modality.


However, there are no specific advantages for men in relation to gender inclusion in MMA. In fact, the inclusion of women in MMA has been beneficial for the sport as a whole, as it allows for the most talented athletes to compete and promote the sport, something that everyone benefits from.


In addition, the inclusion of women in MMA can have a positive effect on the evolution of the sport, expanding and diversifying the techniques and tactics used by athletes.

Figure 20

Dialogue guiding students to explore different approaches related to gender inclusion in the sport of MMA.



Translation note:


If you wish to include the theme of gender inclusion in the sport of MMA as a research topic, there are various approaches that can be explored. Some suggested topics for inclusion are:


1. The history of the inclusion of women in MMA: Explore how and why women were included in the sport of MMA and how this inclusion has evolved over time.


2. The impact of gender inclusion on the sport of MMA: Investigate how the inclusion of women in the sport of MMA affects its popularity, audience, and sponsorship of the sport, as well as the technical and tactical evolution of the sport.


3. Gender equality in the sport of MMA: Analyse the equality of opportunities between men and women in the sport of MMA, including access to training, competitions, and sponsorship deals.


4. The differences in techniques and tactics between men and women in MMA: Investigate the differences in strategies and styles between men and women in the sport of MMA and how this can affect the way fights are fought and the outcomes of matches.


5. Public perception of the inclusion of gender in the sport of MMA: Explore how the public perceives the inclusion of women in the sport of MMA and how this perception can affect the popularity and success of the sport.


6. Including [truncated]


In analysing physical differences and the role of hormonal therapy, students were guided to understand the complexity of biological issues related to gender inclusion in the sport of MMA. The guidance provided in the dialogue (Figure 21) allowed the students to explore topics in a sensitive and fact-based manner and reflect on the evolution of the physical characteristics of trans athletes and the challenges they face in the competitive context.

Figure 21

Dialogue about the physical differences between genders and the influences of hormonal therapy on gender inclusion in MMA.



Translation note:


Trans men, after hormonal therapy, generally have physical characteristics that are more masculine, such as increased muscle mass, bone density, and strength in relation to cisgender women. These differences are due to a combination of biological factors, such as the presence of testosterone, and the influence of social factors, such as exercise patterns and nutrition.


However, trans men who undergo hormonal transition usually have their testosterone levels reduced to within ranges considered normal for women, and they may observe a significant reduction in muscle mass and strength. Therefore, it is important to note that, after hormonal therapy, trans men may not have more physical and biological advantages in relation to cisgender women.

Figure 22

Dialogue exploring the lack of evidence of advantages of trans women over cisgender men in athletic or physical abilities.



Translation note:


How can a trans woman have advantages over a cisgender man?


There is no scientific evidence to suggest that trans women have physical advantages over cisgender men in competitive sports. Trans women are individuals who were designated male at birth but identify as women.


Therefore, the majority of trans women can have lower muscle mass and testosterone levels than cisgender men, which could result in less force due to the decreased muscle density.


Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that the biological differences between men and women are complex and variable, and can be influenced by factors such as age, training, sports nutrition, and genetics. In addition, the advantage in competitive sports is not solely reduced to biological differences but also includes factors such as training, skill, strategy, and motivation.


It is essential to ensure that all individuals have the right to participate in competitive sports, regardless of their gender identity, provided that they comply with the rules and regulations established by sports organizations. The inclusion of trans women in sports is a controversial and evolving topic, and sports organizations are working to develop fair and equitable criteria to ensure that all athletes can compete in a safe and equitable environment.

Figure 23

Dialogue on the importance of reflection and ongoing commitment to promoting gender equality in sports.



Translation note:


How long will it take for gender inclusion to be accepted by society?


There is no simple answer to this question, as the acceptance of gender inclusion within society depends on a multitude of factors, including culture, traditions, values, and politics. However, it is essential to recognize that the push for gender inclusion is a continuous process that has already made significant progress in various parts of the world.


Nevertheless, there are still many hurdles to overcome. Some societies remain deeply conservative and resist change, sometimes even showing political resistance to gender inclusion. Moreover, discrimination based on gender is still a reality for many people, especially women and transgender individuals.


It is believed that the inclusion of gender in society is a gradual process that must be driven by a series of educational and policy changes. As awareness of the importance of gender equality grows and as individuals become more engaged in the fight for minority gender rights, it is possible that gender inclusion will be more widely accepted by society. However, it is uncertain how long it may take for this inclusion to be fully realized.


Issues regarding the lack of evidence of competitive advantages of trans women over cisgender men in athletic or physical abilities were heatedly debated in the group. The dialogue with ChatGPT (Figure 22) highlighted that gender identity does not directly determine athletic ability, emphasizing the importance of an evidence-based approach and its limits. By mentioning the measures taken by sports organizations to create fair guidelines, students were directed to reflect on the need for an equitable and well-founded approach.


Figure 23 illustrates the evolution of the research, which went from searching for quick answers to a more in-depth reflection on the cultural, political, and social aspects that shape gender inclusion in MMA, leading students to broaden their perspectives. Students were encouraged to consider the long road to social acceptance and the importance of continuous commitment to the cause of gender equality, which became the focus of the developed research.


The ongoing dialogue with ChatGPT helped to mediate learning, guiding the students through a process where questions and internal conflicts were overcome. As the students interacted with ChatGPT and received guidance from the teacher, they reflected on their understandings and expanded their ZPDs, engaging deeply with the topic and questioning prior beliefs, organically and collaboratively transitioning from an immediate search for answers to a richer and more mature understanding of the scientific method.


During this educational journey about gender inclusion in sports, the group experienced a transformational learning process where they moved from searching for definitive answers to valuing investigation, questioning, and gradual understanding. This statement from one of the group's students encapsulates this journey of discovery:


"Throughout the research, our group faced conflicts, and with guidance, we understood that in research we don't need to have an answer as an absolute truth, the opinion of some in the group changed over the course of the research, we thought about giving up, but we understood that this is how it is..."


This approach demonstrated how proper teacher mediation, combined with ChatGPT technology, can provide an environment where intellectual curiosity flourishes and the learning potential of students expands, illustrating the dynamics of research and the transformation it can instigate in students.


This paper is available on arxiv under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 DEED license.