Public understanding of science and the out-of-school scientific experiences of grade 11 learners

Nkonki, Vuyisile Joy Jonga (2004-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2004

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is an exploration of the outside the classroom scientific experiences of Grade 11 learners, as indicators of their interests, public understanding and engagement with Science and Technology. The out of school scientific experiences, interests and feelings of being informed about scientific issues, debates and developments of male and female grade 11 learners are described and then compared to ascertain significant differences. This investigation departs from the hypothesis that science teaching and learning focuses more on concepts, laws, principles and formulae with very little reference to science-related public issues and everyday life experiences of the learners. Gender differences and motivational traits related to the students' preferences for particular types of learning activities and needs are not considered in science curriculum planning and design and also in classroom teaching. This leads to boredom and diminishing interest in science among learners. The study analyses data from a survey of a sample of five schools with two hundred and twenty five Grade 11 learners. Tables of descriptive findings, analysis of variance and post-hoc comparison of means to analyse and interpret data from the learners are used. The researcher finds that generally learners have never had the scientific experiences described or seldom engage themselves with scientific activities, issues and debates beyond classroom science. Learners expressed interest in scientific issues and developments but indicated that they were not informed about such issues and developments. The results of significant differences showed that the outside the school scientific experiences, levels of interest and being informed of male and female Grade 11 learners differed. The study has implications not only for science curriculum planners and designers but also for science teachers and further research in the field of public understanding of science.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing behels 'n ondersoek van die wyse waarop graad 11-leerders wetenskap buite die klaskamer ervaar, wat dan as aanwyser van hulle belangstellings, openbare begrip van en betrokkenheid by Wetenskap en Tegnologie gesien kan word. Die manier waarop wetenskap buite die skool ervaar word, belangstellings en gevoelens ten opsigte van ingeligtheid omtrent wetenskaplike kwessies, debatte en die ontwikkeling van manlike en vroulike graad 11-leerders word beskryf en dan vergelyk ten einde betekenisvolle verskille vas te stel. Die ondersoek neem as vertrekpunt die hipotese dat die onderrig en leer van wetenskap hoofsaaklik op konsepte, wette, beginsels en formules fokus met baie min verwysing na openbare vraagstukke wat met die wetenskap en die leerders se alledaagse lewenservaringe verband hou. Geslagsverskille en motiveringseienskappe wat met die leerders se voorkeure vir besondere soorte leeraktiwiteite en behoeftes verband hou, word nie tydens die beplanning en ontwerp van die wetenskapkurrikulum of tydens onderrig in die klaskamer in ag geneem nie. Die gevolg is verveling en 'n afname in leerders se belangstelling in wetenskap. Die navorsing analiseer data verkry deur middel van 'n opname onder 'n steekproef van vyf skole met tweehonderd vyf en twintig graad 11-leerders. Tabelle met deskriptiewe bevindinge, variansie-analise en post hoc-vergelyking van gemiddeldes ten einde data oor die leerders te analiseer en te interpreteer, word gebruik. Die navorser het bevind dat leerders oor die algemeen nooit die wetenskapservaringe soos beskryf, gehad het nie of hulle selde besig hou met wetenskaplike aktiwiteite, vraagstukke en debatte bo en behalwe die wetenskap wat in die klaskamer onderrig word. Leerders het belangstelling in wetenskaplike vraagstukke en ontwikkelings getoon, maar het aangedui dat hulle nie ingelig is oor sodanige vraagstukke en ontwikkelings nie. Die resultate van betekenisvolle verskille het getoon dat die wetenskapservaringe buite die skool, belangstellingsvlakke en die mate van ingeligtheid van manlike en vroulike graad 11-leerders verskil het. Hierdie navorsing het implikasies nie net vir die diegene wat wetenskapkurrikulums beplan en ontwerp nie, maar ook vir wetenskapopvoeders en vir verdere navorsing ten opsigte van openbare begrip van wetenskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50071
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