Stellenbosch University engineering and education students’ ranked priorities of science- and technology-related global problems

Barnard, Jadri Elizabeth (2017-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2017


ENGLISH ABSTRACT : In 1984 Bybee used 262 science educators from 41 countries to develop an instrument for measuring their ranked priorities of science- and technology-related global problems. In 1995 the original Bybee scale was updated and clarified, and a new 15-item version, the Le Grange Global Priorities Instrument (LGPI), was piloted, refined and administered in fifteen schools to 946 secondary school pupils speaking three different home languages in two provinces in South Africa. In this study the LGPI was refined and updated to a 12-item scale and to include three qualitative questions. The LGPI is renamed, in this study, as the Revised Le Grange Global Priorities Instrument (RLGPI). The RLGPI was administered in the form of a best-worst scale to 114 Engineering and Education students at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. The study is an extension of the work of Bybee and Mau (1986) Bybee and Najafi (1986), Ndodana, Rochford and Fraser (1994), Le Grange, Rochford and Sass (1995) and Le Grange (1996), and needed to be updated two decades after the last research on the topic was conducted in South Africa. Of a total of 120 questionnaires distributed, 114 were completed and were used in computing the results of the study. A total of 58 questionnaires were completed by education students and a total of 56 questionnaires were completed by engineering students at Stellenbosch University. The data were collected during the period May to August 2016, using 15-minute slots as part of normal class time of formal instruction; 95% of the questionnaires were complete and usable. Mean ranking scores were compared between attributes and groups using mixed model repeated measures ANOVA. For post hoc testing Fisher least significant difference (LSD) was used. Analyses were conducted using Statistica 13. This was for the purpose of disclosing significant similarities and differences between the responses to the RLGPI items. A test-retest correlation of r = 0.82 (n = 26) was obtained for the RLGPI instrument as a whole using smaller samples of available students in 2016. The results reveal that the overall differences between the fourth-year education students and fourth-year engineering students were relatively minor, except for the items Loss of biodiversity and Energy needs. The results showed a statistically significant difference (p<0.01) between the engineering students’ and the education students’ ranking of the item Loss of biodiversity. The engineering students and education students ranked Energy needs with a statistical difference at the p<0.01 level. Both samples ranked Fresh water supplies, World hunger and food resources and Human health and disease as their top three priorities. Rankings done by the whole group on the RLGPI as a whole showed little differences, except for items World hunger and food resources, Loss of biodiversity, Ignorant decision makers. The whole female group ranked World hunger and food resources at 1st place and males ranked it at 2nd place, which was statistically significant at the p<0.01 level. Loss of biodiversity was ranked at 3rd place by the whole female group and the whole male group ranked it at 8th place. This difference is statistically significant at P value = 0.00. All females as a whole ranked Ignorant decision makers at 8th place and the males ranked it at 6th place. This difference was significant at p = 0.02. The top-ranked items for all the samples were Fresh water supplies, World hunger and food resources, Human health and disease; and Population growth. These four items relate to basic human needs for long- and short-term survival. There is consequently a need for an updated curriculum that can meet all the needs that society might have as these needs always change with time. In this study the importance of keeping track of students’ priorities when developing curriculums are emphasised. This study focussed on current environmental problems and the 17 goals for sustainable development set by the UN. Current issues like environmental destruction and gender inequality are just some of the issues that findings in this study prove to be problems that need to be addressed in the science curricula, as Bybee (1984) suggested.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Geen Afrikaanse opsomming geskikbaar nie

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