School research, teachers and institutions must have an interest in improving students’ engagement and academic success. Teachers’ supporting autonomy style and the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are major predictors for school engagement and academic success [1
]. As a basis for this, firstly, stimulating learning environments are needed to foster students’ active involvement and capacity to take responsibility for their learning. Secondly, strategies of classroom management are required that reduce teachers’ role of being authoritarians but are still tailored to the demands of teaching.
1.1. Bringing the Science Centre into Schools
In contrast to everyday school life, “Scientific field trips to science centres can generate a sense of wonder, interest, enthusiasm, motivation, and eagerness to learn, which are much neglected in traditional formal school science” [4
] (p. 125). Science centers often present fluid transitions between education and entertainment [5
], providing opportunities for cognitive [6
] as well as social and affective learning [7
]. They offer authentic experiences with natural and technological phenomena combined with an autonomous, active and student-centred learning. This focus on a person’s active involvement during a task should address students’ engagement in a particular way [9
]. Especially parameters such as intrinsic motivation, science learning achievement, interest in science and self-confidence can benefit from these learning experiences [10
Although advantages of out-of-school learning seem obvious, mainly monetary or logistic constraints (e.g., due to location, organization and implementation of scientific fieldtrips) often prevent field trips in daily school routine [11
]. Efficient practical approaches for the implementation of scientific activities inside schools are still rare.
Bringing portable exhibits into schools could valuably complement out-of-school learning offers [4
]. This “semi-formal” learning approach should be adapted simultaneously to teachers’ and students’ needs: Curriculum connection is one of the most often mentioned motivations for teachers to leave the classroom [13
]. Used as a supplement to “normal” classroom instruction, portable exhibits provide opportunities to reinforce or expand the classroom curriculum [16
]. Exhibits can easily be presented within a conceptual framework; they introduce a learning topic, summarize it, or deepen and extend it. Portable exhibits, put up in schools could link student-centred attributes with pre-determined learning objectives.
For the developed of exhibits and related tasks in alignment with school curricula and practical implementation schools, science centres and museums should cooperate to create a shared vision [4
]. The integration of portable interactive augmented reality approaches into teaching have already shown positive effects on learning [18
]. However, little literature considers the structure needed to support semi-formal learning environments [19
] and the question remains which strategies could balance between teachers’ control and students’ autonomy.
1.3. Peer- versus Self-Monitoring to Regulate Students’ Learning Behaviour
As a student-centred learning approach, group learning is frequently used within formal and informal learning settings. Cooperative learning environments and learning settings in which one person (the tutor) imparts knowledge to another person (the tutee) combine cognitive activity with social interactions [52
]. In comparison, instructional monitoring is typically based on behavioural activity, making it particularly suitable for classroom management. Hereby, self-monitoring is a self-management strategy that involves observing, assessing and regulating one’s own behaviour [56
]. It has been found to be a key process in self-regulated learning [57
]. In contrast, reciprocal peer-monitoring implies monitoring classmates as well as being monitored. Brown and colleagues [58
] defined peer-monitoring as peer-observing and checking the behaviour of others within the group regarding appropriateness and effectiveness. For both strategies of monitoring teachers as well as students could define target behaviours. Self-monitoring usually requires minimal training and is easy to implement [59
], in contrast previous training for peer-monitoring depends on monitor variables (e.g., single vs. multiple behaviours) and the specific behaviour that is required. Interventions of self-monitoring, e.g., in [60
] and peer-monitoring, e.g., in [58
] have been applied to promote academic performance and “on-task” learning behaviours among students of different ages and across a variety of learning disabilities and emotional-behavioural difficulties. Thereby, self-monitoring was often used in learning settings with no possibilities for teacher control and in multiple contexts like math [65
] and writing or reading performance [60
Previous research can only be compared to a certain extent: Self-monitoring is mostly used in learning settings where students work on their own (e.g., while doing homework); whereas, peer-monitoring always implies social interactions. The scope of monitoring within and between both methods could differ from very little to intensive monitoring. In addition, monitoring could be used within different learning contexts and in combination with other instructional approaches, such as the use of a graphic organizer [60
]. Thus, outcomes could differ fundamentally.
In the majority, both self- and peer-monitoring supported desired behaviours within the specific contexts and revealed to be equally effective, or superior to, teacher-directed procedures when knowledge gain was taken under consideration (see [58
] for peer-monitoring and [67
] for self-monitoring).
In contrast to positive effects of self-regulated learning on intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy and self-awareness [57
], results of peer-monitoring are ambiguous. Henington and Skinner [67
] stated that “peer monitoring can bring about both positive and negative social, emotional, and cognitive changes in students who are being monitored, as well as in those students doing the monitoring.” (p. 251). Within the mediation model [2
] autonomy support is an important predictor of students’ intrinsic motivation. Peer-monitoring as “learners keeping an eye on whether their partners are going through appropriate and effective processes and procedures of learning” [58
] (p. 174), could minimize students’ perception of self-control in comparison to self-monitoring. Still, there is some evidence that regulation is not correlated with a feeling of restriction if guided by a person of the same age [46
] and reciprocal peer-monitoring could establish a positive interdependence among students. Additionally, taking cooperative learning into account, peer-monitoring can strengthen prosocial behaviour [69
]. In conclusion, so far, students’ perception of peer-monitoring in comparison to self-monitoring is difficult to predict.