Science-Relevant Experiences of Selected Elementary and Secondary School Students
Tjornehoj, Thomas G.
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The Problem. The general problem is to construct a list of science-relevant experiences that contribute to scientific literacy. The specific problem addressed in this study was to identify (1) those experiences teachers and curriculum writers believe to be important, and (2) of these experiences, which ones students have had. Procedure. A survey form was designated for this study, evolving in this way: (1) a physics professor developed a list of experiences he considered significant in his development toward scientific literacy, (2) a science education professor took this list and (a) eliminated all those experience-items which he could not recall personally having had, (b) eliminated all those experiences which he considered not inclusively related to any of the matter in both of two science texts, (c) refined the language used in the items, (d) tested the face validity of these items with a group of about 100 fifth and sixth grade students, eliminating those items still found to cause undue problems in comprehension for some of the students, and (e) again attempted to refine the 150 items retained for use in this study. Each item was classified into one of four science categories: biological, physical, earth, and general. The survey form was devised to be answered "YES" or "NO" by the sample population, which consisted of 353 students (sixth, ninth, and twelfth graders in public schools from inner-city, outer-city, and suburban residential areas of a Midwestern city). A minimum of twenty students was involved in each grade-area group. Summary of the Findings. From an item analysis of the responses made to the survey items by the sixth, ninth, and twelfth grade students involved in this study from selected inner-city, outer-city, and suburban area schools, it was found that (according to the mean totals for each group) the suburban students recalled the most experiences, with outer-city students recalling less experiences and the inner-city students recalling the least; that the twelfth graders recalled the most experiences, with the ninth graders recalling less and the sixth graders recalling the least--exceptions were found to these in comparing the grade-area groups.
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