Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    A cartoon chemistry text : the construction and testing of a novel chemistry text incorporating human values
    Werry, R. John ( 1990)
    This study examines current science texts and the concerns and objectives of Science-Technology-Society based courses. It indicates that they present the public image of the practising scientist (with inherent Mertonian values of Universalism, Communism, Disinterestedness, and organized skepticism) which is used to organize scientific concepts into a meaningful whole. Utilizing the notion that a value is anything important to a student, a hypothesis was proposed that meaning and interest generated from a text is dependent on the extent of overlap between text and student values. The implications of the interaction of different value systems with a Mertonian based text were considered. An attempt was made to develop a chemistry text that was meaningful to all students, by organizing concepts into a story form with non-Mertonian organization. This approach evolved into a cartoon format with specific features. Two cartoon text items were tested at two schools. The trial involved a survey item on 103 students and audio taped interviews with 20 students. The trial attempted to evaluate the cartoon as a student text, attitudes to issues content, and styles of resolving issues based conflicts. The results were interpreted by classifying the respondents into four categories of science likingness ( A, B, C, D) on the basis of Year 11 subject choice, and favorite subject. It was assumed that the accommodation of Mertonian values by a group reflected the science likingness of the group. The cartoon text was well received with most students wishing to see more cartoons, and being able to answer questions from the text. The B, C, and D groups expressed a preference for the cartoon text over their current science text. The proposed differential accommodation of values appeared to account for the greater enthusiasm of the B and C groups for the cartoons than the A and D groups. Perceptions of the amount of current social problems/ issues content in science teaching increased markedly with group science likingness. The amount of issues content desired decreased with increasing group science likingness. A belief that scientific solutions could resolve social problems/ issues, showed a marked decrease with decreasing science likingness. A value model of cognitive style was developed from the basic hypothesis and assumptions regarding the extent of accommodation of Mertonian and Humanist norms as personal values. This model seemed to account for variations in meaning generated for the various groups in response to both the standard and cartoon science text format.
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    What are the blockers/facilitators for a science coordinator to integrate datalogging into science teaching
    Weller, Jacolyn ( 2002)
    This project investigates a coeducational Secondary College Science Department that decided to introduce datalogging as a teaching tool. Datalogging is the electronic recording of data during an experiment using sensor probes. Decisions concerning the introduction of datalogging involved the science teaching staff, the laboratory technician and the Science Coordinator, all stakeholders in this process. This investigation was developed with the hindsight of a Literature Review, which provided the advice of others' experiences and catalogues the introduction in a case study format. Action research strategies were invoked through a series of focus interview questions, which provide a 'snap-shot' of the perceptions. From here a collaborative Change Management strategy of introducing datalogging into science teaching was produced. The factors that inhibited or prevented the use of datalogging in teaching were considered to be 'blockers'. Through interview questions the teachers and the laboratory technician were asked what they felt blocked their use of datalogging. The time required to become comfortable, familiar, confident and experiment with the equipment arose as the major concern for all teachers prior to using datalogging in science teaching, while the laboratory technician had more physical impediments. The technology capable participants did not encounter major hindrances. There was a constant limitation of equipment due to its expense, which was a factor accepted by all and where innovation in teaching style was required to overcome this impediment. However, all felt that visual 'memory-jogs' of the availability and uses of the equipment would encourage use. The factors that contributed to datalogging use were the 'facilitators'. These included a well rounded, informative and ongoing professional development strategy involving all staff members sharing knowledge combined with a laboratory technician who was conversant with the equipment, constantly promoting and encouraging usage and aiding the process. Throughout the project constant active problem solving emerged as a strategy by teachers whenever a 'blocker' was suggested. The advantage of collegial sharing through professional development was also recognised by staff and thought to integrate well when developing technology as a teaching tool. The process overall was time intensive due to lack of time in the working week when people are at different stages in embracing change and technology. Consequently whatever was learnt by individuals was regarded as worth sharing professionally.
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    Egan's stage theory : an exploratory study of its use in the analysis of science textbooks
    Valmadre, Christopher Charles ( 1985)
    Kieran Egan (1979) has challenged educationists to consider the need for a Theory of Development which is specifically Educational. Such a need is discussed and examined in the context of science teaching. Egan's Theory was applied to the selection of science text material for a group of eleven and twelve year old students. The students' responses to the materials were compared with Egan's descriptions of certain developmental stages, particularly of his Romantic Stage. The author concluded that Egan's theoretical proposition assisted in interpeting certain student behaviour and preferences. Possible classroom uses of Egan's theory are discussed, implications for text usage and design are outlined, and some areas of research are suggested.
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    The sociohistorical approach to science teaching : theory and practice
    Robottom, Ian M (1949-) ( 1978)
    A conception of scientific methodology is regarded as an important objective in science education. There exists an identifiable popular view of science which is expressed both explicitly and implicitly in science curriculum design, and in the evaluation of students' progress. This popular view of science includes such elements as objectivity, open-mindedness, logicality and rationality. It can be found in explicit statements of scientific methodology in science texts, and can be discerned in the actual structure of curricule,as well as in tests on students' understanding of science. The currently dominant behavioural objectives model of curriculum design, with its emphasis on the use of rational, logical means-end reasoning, is a facilitative agent in the propagation of the popular view. There is, however, considerable equivocation concerning the nature of scientific methodology. The existence of a number of different conceptions of science, for example those articulated by Popper, Kuhn, and Schwab, is incompatible with the singularity of the popular view. The prespecification of outcomes, as demanded by the behavioural objectives model of curriculum design, seems inappropriate in light of the fact that these outcomes (relating to scientific methodology) have such an equivocal base. The suitability of an alternative model of curriculum design, that articulated by Stenhouse, is explored. There has recently been a rise in interest in the Sociohistorical Approach to science teaching. This approach, which involves the setting of episodes of scientific inquiry in their social and historical context, may constitute a practical manifestation of Stenhouse's theory. An attempt is made to outline the marriage of the process model and the use of sociohistorical materials.
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    Beyond school science: students and teachers perceptions of the science talent search
    Krystyn, Jean Elizabeth ( 1986)
    Every year the Science Teachers Association of Victoria (STAV) conducts a Science Talent Search (STS) which they maintain is one of the largest and longest running science fairs in the world. This study aimed to provide some insights into why this activity is so popular with students and teachers and to what extent it complements or provides outcomes different from school science. Information was collected by searching the archives of STAV and by interviews with teachers and students. The findings indicate that over the years STS has adapted to changes in the social and economic contexts of schooling, which have also influenced thinking about but not forced major changes in the secondary school science curriculum. This has contributed to its increased popularity with keen students and teachers as evidenced by increased participation. The students who were interviewed enjoyed and valued their experiences in STS. In particular they commented on the freedom to choose projects according to their abilities, interests and preferred modes of working. Many of their projects arose from every day life problems or recreational pursuits of themselves and their families. STS catered for a wide range of abilities and interests and provided an attractive forum for the involvement of girls in science activities. Girls said that they had gained great satisfaction from confirmation of their ability to meet challenges and solve problems relying mostly on their own resources. Based on students responses some distinctions can be made between school science and the science activities of the STS which indicate ways in which school science may need to change in order to attract and cater for a wider range of students.
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    Child science to teacher science: a comparison of conceptual transition in the nature of light and the particle theory
    Hyatt, Donald James ( 1992)
    Child Science caught the imagination of science educators in the early 1980's. Since that time, much work has gone into the investigation of Child Science and the concept is now well recognised throughout the world. This study investigates the nature of Child Science and Teacher Science as it relates to two specific concept areas in science - that is, the concepts of Light and the Particle Theory. Students in Victorian schools at Year levels 5 & 9 were compared, as was a gender comparison made for each of the two concepts. Students were first categorised as operating from a Child Science or Teacher Science framework and their subsequent answers to three open-ended questions in the concept areas were examined. The study shows that there is a clear progression towards the embracing of Teacher Science at the Year 9 level, but that the transition is by no means complete for all students. The transition to Teacher Science for the Particle Theory is more dichotomous than for the Light Theory, which has a strong transitional phase. For both concept areas, girls pass through a stronger transitional phase, whereas boys tend to progress more rapidly to the use of Teacher Science. Girls also tend to answer questions relating to these concepts in the ways teachers might expect, whereas boys were more inclined to answer in a way that made little or no sense from a teacher's perspective or did not answer the question at all. The implications for the classroom teacher are considered in light of these findings. How might these strongly held Child Science views be refined, developed or replaced; and the need for recognition by teachers that the teacher needs to provide a suitable transitional framework that promotes intellectual security and a mechanism that will encourage the replacement of the Child Science perceptions with more elaborate, scientifically accepted perceptions.
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    Investigations of informal learning in science using postage stamps with some Victorian ten-year-old children
    Gray, C. M. R. ( 1986)
    Primary school children learn matters of a scientific nature through many sources of informal learning. These include radio, television, newspapers, comics, books, mother, father, films, travel, museums, zoos, animal parks, gardens, youth groups and other sources. This thesis concerns three investigations of informal learning in science using observations of postage stamps having 'science' themes with 21 10 year-old children attending Victorian Independent schools. In the first, each child was asked what the word 'science' meant to him or her. Then, a number of Australian and Malaysian postage stamps depicting animals were handed to each. The participant was asked to sort them into any arrangement that appealed, but such that all the stamps could be viewed at once by an observer. Each child was asked the basis for his or her arrangement. Each arrangement was photographed and examined for signs consistent with any informal knowledge of the hierarchical classification of the animals depicted. In the second, Malaysian stamps were used to enhance the children's observation of postage stamps and, through this guided observation, they learned previously unknown features of Malaysia. In the third, seven cards, all but one displaying a postage stamp or a set of postage stamps having a 'science' theme, were observed and discussed one at a time with each child. The form of discussion was such that ideas of a scientific nature, probably learned through previous informal learning, were identified. Some of their sources were identified by the children. From these interviews some evidence was obtained which supported the hypotheses: 1. That 'Science' has a variety of connotations in the minds of the 10 year-olds, most suggesting experimental activity. 2. That the children showed little evidence of informal learning associated with a hierarchical classification of the animals depicted, other than in terms of 'air, land and water' in some cases. 3. That the 10 year-olds learned previously unknown facts about Malaysia through guided observation of Malaysian postage stamps. 4. That the stamps in the third investigation acted as stimuli to memory-recall of matters related to the subjects depicted on the stamps. Many of the children's responses provided comments which reflected the children's ideas on some scientific matters. The thesis supports the idea that the use of selected postage stamps as described is one means of investigating the nature, extent and sources of informal learning in science in some Victorian 10 year-old children. It also illustrates the use of postage stamps in the design of science instruction for possible use in primary schooling.
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    The Australian Science Education Project: a case study in curriculum implementation
    Gill, William ( 1991)
    The Australian Science Education Project (ASEP) was developed between 1969-74 as Australia's first national curriculum project. ASEP was designed to introduce major changes for years 7-10 science in materials, content and assigned roles for teachers and students. While initial sales of the ASEP materials were excellent in Victoria the extent of implementation was low. This study examines reasons for this unsuccessful implementation from a user (i.e. teacher and schools) perspective. Determinants or causes of the extent of implementation relating to the nature of the ASEP materials, the strategies for implementation and the nature of teaching and schools are examined. The fundamental cause of the low level of implementation in Victoria is related to the development of the ASEP materials from a 'technological' perspective with limited input by classroom teachers. The materials developed in this way could only be successful if the implementation strategies included extensive in-service and curriculum support for science teachers and this did not happen in Victoria. Based on Havelock's 'Problem Solver' perspective of curriculum change a model for effective implementation is proposed which incorporates a 'user' perspective and the notion of mutual adaptation between the innovation and the user system.
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    How may the use of an abstract picture language affect student learning of energy and change
    Fry, Margaret C. ( 2002)
    The teaching of `Energy' as a topic in school science has often been found in the professional and research literature to be incoherent and scientifically inconsistent. Boohan and Ogborn's `Energy and change' booklets are an attempt to outline a new way for teachers in junior science classes to talk about processes that drive everyday changes from the weather to a car moving. They have sought, around the central idea that change is caused by differences, to use easy language and find coherent ways to describe thermodynamic ideas. They developed a set of abstract pictures to make these ideas intelligible. In this phenomenological classroom-based study the experiences afforded two Year 8 classes and their teachers in the same school in Melbourne by the use of Boohan and Ogborn's abstract picture language are investigated. One teacher took a didactic/empirical approach. He taught from his architectonic conceptual map of energy and followed the standard textbook development of forms of energy punctuated by the recommended experiments and teacher demonstrations to illustrate various changes in form. The abstract pictures were used principally in discussion as summative and interrogative tools towards a clarification of the teacher's conceptual overview. The other teacher took a co-constructive experiential approach. She did not use a class text. The Boohan and Ogborn materials were used as gestural tools in the sense of presenting the gist of the embodied understanding- purposes and meaning- of teacher and students. There were some teacher demonstrations but no practical work. The picture language icons functioned as mediating tools in class conversations towards a perception not that certain predefined teacher concepts had been attained but rather individuals had attained confidence to go on from that juncture. The students' responses to the picture language, in class interaction and group interviews, revealed major similarities across these teaching approaches. Many saw the abstract picture language to be a powerful and economic representational or iconic device that afforded them a means of engaging their own embodied socio-cultural understanding of energy and change phenomena. Some were confused by the purpose and meaning inscribed in the icons. Both teachers felt professionally challenged in the employment of the materials and only partly satisfied by their different enactments. Both were engaged and curious about the intellectual, sensational and aesthetic dimensions of their and their students' experience.
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    Form 4 attitudes to science and the choice of a science and in particular physics in Form 5
    Doig, Graeme R. ( 1976)
    Although the more recent curriculum writers have stressed the importance of affective outcomes in science education, students who study physics come to enjoy it less. Also, the proportional and absolute enrolments in physics have continued to decline. A review of the research literature suggested that attitudes to science are a factor in the choice of science and physics study. Attitudes to the science oriented concepts science and physics, scientists, science career and science teacher are pervasively unfavourable. Furthermore, student perceptions of science and physics suggested that the physical sciences were avoided because of certain inherent characteristics (physical science traits) and the absence of humanitarian, social and freedom connotations (non-science traits). Several research studies implicitly supported the hypothesis that favourable attitudes to science oriented concepts and physical science traits were associated with a science study preference whilst favourable attitudes to non-science traits were associated with a non-science study preference. The purpose of the present study was to explicitly examine the assertion that form 4 student attitudes to the above three classes of concepts were associated with the preference to pursue a form 5 science subject and in particular physics. Two identical sets of research hypotheses were formulated for the preference to pursue Science versus No Science and Physics versus No Physics. A questionnaire was administered to 385 form 4 Victorian secondary students in August 1974. The questionnaire elicited student responses to twenty two concepts using a form of\the semantic differential (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) and their form 5 study preferences. Student attitudes were determined using the D (distance) statistic for profile congruence (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) using the marker concepts Things I Like and Things I Dislike. The DLike and DDislike concept profiles were separately subjected to a multivariate analysis of variance procedure (Clyde, Cramer & Sherin, 1966) with Expressed Preference for Form 5 Study and Sex as the independent variables. Within the former independent variable, there were two orthogonal contrasts. These were Science versus No Science and Science (Physics) versus Science (No Physics). The two contrasts were necessarily taken together for the set of Physics versus No Physics research hypotheses. In general, the results based on the DLike profiles supported the assertions that student attitudes to science oriented concepts and physical science traits were associated with the preference for a future science subject and in particular physics. However, student attitudes to non-science traits were not associated with the preference to avoid science and physics. The results based on the DDislike profiles were consistent but less pervasive than the DLike profile data. The substantial disparity in the number of significant findings for the DLike and DDislike profile data further suggested that subject choices are made on the basis of "likes" rather than "dislikes". The overall findings of the research investigation presented a tentative picture of subject choice. Prospective science science and in particular physics students have an affinity for ("likes") and their non-science counter-parts an indifference to (rather than "dislikes") science in general and the nature of the physical science curriculum. Furthermore, since such preference groups did not differ in their attitudes to non-science traits, it may be argued that prospective non-science students are indifferent to their actual subject choices. However, this argument could not be overstated. The implications of the research investigation are that attitudes to science (in general) and the nature of the physical science are an important factor in a future choice of science and in particular physics. If future physical science enrolments are to increase, then the attitudes of those students who avoid science and physics must be nurtured. This may be effected through incorporating additional dimensions into the physical science curriculum and the consideration of teacher behaviour on student attitudes to science.