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Environmental Mental Models of College Students
Melissa R. Wuellner, Leslie Vincent, and Brandi Felts
pp. 105-115 | Article Number: ijese.2017.004
Primary and secondary students in the United States are provided environmental education in their curricula due in part to national legislation, but higher education, for many U.S. citizens, is the last opportunity to educate young adults about the environment and humans’ role in it in a formalized setting. Pre-college education and other life experiences or ways of learning can shape a student’s mental model of the environment. While some previous research has focused on understanding environmental mental models of primary and secondary students, only one study to date has evaluated models of college students. Further, no study has evaluated potential shifts in mental models because of taking a course or what specific factors shape these models prior to college. The objectives of this study were to assess environmental models of college students and determine whether a course on “Environmental Conservation” reinforces or influences students’ mental models by the end of the course. We compared environmental metal models at the start and end of our course using the Environments Task tool. Students were asked to provide pictorial and written descriptions of their mental models at both time periods. Additionally, photographs were used to explore student beliefs on environmental representations and questions were used to assess sources of prior environmental knowledge of students at the start of the semester. Results show that pictorial and written mental models differed from one another at the beginning as well as the end of the semester. More students identified humans as a part of the environment in their pictures by the end of the semester compared to the beginning, but no such shifts were noted in the written description. Students identified secondary school courses, life experiences such as growing up on a farm or ranch or hunting and fishing, and their family members as their primary sources of environmental information prior to taking the course. In total, these results indicate that mental models remain underdeveloped after this specific 16-week course and that these models may be more fixed by earlier educational experiences than previously believed. Recommendations for future environmental education are also provided.
Keywords: Mental models, environment, higher education
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Examining the Learning Outcomes Included in the Turkish Science Curriculum in Terms of Science Process Skills: A Document Analysis with Standards-Based Assessment
Umit Duruk, Abuzer Akgün, Ceylan Doğan, Fatma Gülsuyu
pp. 117-142 | Article Number: ijese.2017.005
Science process skills have provided a valuable chance for everyone to construct their own knowledge by means of scientific inquiry. If students are to understand what science is and how it actually works, then they should necessarily make use of their science process skills as well as scientific content knowledge compulsory to be learned in any science curriculums. As an important schooling item, science curriculums based on scientific literacy have been reoriented at times and aimed at providing students with a deeper understanding of science process skills and make them fully competent to deal with scientific process as far as possible. The present study took its inspiration for examining the role of science curriculum on science process skills from the purpose of investigating learning outcomes in it. The study was conducted in accordance with document analysis of Turkish Secondary School Science Curriculum revised in 2013. The analysis was operated by standards-based assessment of learning outcomes with the help of sentence-based criteria constructed by researchers. The results showed that the representation rate of science process skills for science curriculum varied with grade level and unit. Based on the results, the implications and limitations of the study and the directions for further study were discussed.
Keywords: Science education, science process skills, science curriculum, document analysis
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Science Content Knowledge of 5–6 Year Old Preschool Children
pp. 143-175 | Article Number: ijese.2017.006
The present study is a descriptive research in the scanning model. In the present study is research conducted to determine five to six-year-old children’s knowledge of science content, study group constitutes of 360 children attending preschool educational institutions in Burdur city center and their parents and teachers. In the study, Science Content Standards Scale (SCSS) Trial Form developed by Taştepe (2012) was used. SCSS consists of a total 31 items and three subscales including Life Science, Physical Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences processing areas. SCSS-Trial Form was filled at the end of May 2015 by group teachers giving children training throughout the whole academic year. Group score differences were analyzed with one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) technique. Difference among groups is tested using Scheffe and Tamhane techniques. While statistically significant differences are observed among children’s scores obtained from SCSS total and sub-dimensions according to age and duration of preschool education, and all sub-dimensions as per number of siblings, there are not any statistically significant differences among children’s scores total and sub-dimension according to gender and mothers and fathers’ age. While difference among children’s scores obtained from physical sciences, earth and space sciences is observed in favor of firstborn, no differences in life sciences and total score are not determined. There is a statistically significant difference between children’s scores in physical and life sciences sub-dimensions as per mothers and father’ status of education, and physical sciences sub-dimensions as per mothers’ occupational group but there are not any significant differences determined in as per father’ occupational group.
Keywords: Preschool, kindergarten, science content knowledge, teacher and parents
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|View Abstract References Full text PDF|
Assessing the Validity of Multiple-choice Questions in Measuring Fourth Graders’ Ability to Interpret Graphs about Motion and Temperature
Mehmet Dulger and Hasan Deniz
pp. 177-193 | Article Number: ijese.2017.007
The purpose of this paper is to assess the validity of multiple-choice questions in measuring fourth grade students’ ability to interpret graphs related to physical science topics such as motion and temperature. We administered a test including 6 multiple-choice questions to 28 fourth grade students. Students were asked to explain their thinking in writing for each question. In addition, we interviewed all 28 students and asked them to justify their answer for each question by thinking out loud. We found that a significant number of students were not able to provide appropriate explanations for their correct answers. Interestingly, however, a significant number of students were able to provide appropriate explanations even though they initially selected an incorrect response. As a result of this study, we suggest caution in using multiple-choice questions as a single data source to assign grades or to make other important decisions about student achievement.
Keywords: Assessment, multiple-choice questions, elementary students, validity
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School Gardening in Oman: A Pilot Project with Grade 7 Students
Abdulla Ambusaidi, Rashid Al-Yahyai, Subhashni Taylor, and Neil Taylor
pp. 195-211 | Article Number: ijese.2017.008
The Sultanate of Oman is beginning to experience a rapid increase in what are termed ‘lifestyle diseases’, most notably diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These appear to be linked to increasing poor dietary habits, particularly an increase in the consumption of ‘junk’ foods and a more sedentary lifestyle, amongst the younger generation. In a number of Western contexts, school gardens have been shown to improve not only student attitudes to diet but also improved learning and affective outcomes. A pilot school gardening project involving a mixed method quasi-experimental design was undertaken in Oman with a number of Grade 7 classes. While the outcomes of this pilot study should be treated tentatively, the quantitative findings indicate that employing school gardens as an educational resource might improve learning outcomes in the area of science skill development. The qualitative findings suggested that the project had a positive impact on the affective domain of students and in some cases encouraged them to pursue healthier eating habits. Other findings from the study were rather mixed.
Keywords: Oman, school gardening, diet, pilot study, mixed methods
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Understanding how Preservice Teachers’ Fear, Perceived Danger and Disgust Affects the Incorporation of Arachnid Information into the Elementary Science Classroom
Ron Wagler and Amy Wagler
pp. 213-231 | Article Number: ijese.2017.009
Arachnids are predatory arthropods that are beneficial to humans in many ways, with common examples including spiders and scorpions. Despite the importance of arachnids to global ecosystems, the fear of spiders in specific human groups is well documented. Arachnids are a very diverse class (i.e., Arachnida) encompassing eleven extant orders with over 100,000 described species but little is known about other emotions and beliefs humans have towards most other arachnid orders. Because of the importance of arachnids to global ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity, elementary children should learn about arachnids. However, prior research shows that preservice elementary teachers do not plan to include information about arachnids in their classrooms. The current study analyzed the effect a living arachnid workshop had on United States (US) kindergarten through sixth grade (K-6) preservice elementary teachers’ emotions and beliefs towards living arachnids and sought to see if the arachnid workshop could reduce the participants fear, perceived danger and disgust towards arachnids and increase their likelihood of incorporating information about arachnids into their science classroom. Five living arachnids from five of the eleven extant arachnid orders were used in the study, which is the most biodiverse group of arachnids used in a study to assess the emotions and beliefs humans have toward arachnids. This study employs a longitudinal design (i.e., pretest, posttest 1 and posttest 2) with randomly assigned treatment and control groups thereby giving the researchers the ability to make casual claims and assess the effect of the intervention over a longer period of time. The treatment group exhibited a steady and maintained decrease in the levels of fear, perceived danger and disgust across the time points, while the control group exhibited little change in these responses. A positive change in the likelihood of incorporation for each of the animals across time for the treatment group was found, while the control group showed little or no change in these responses across time. Implications of the study and future research are presented that are applicable to preservice elementary teachers, university science education instructors and teacher training programs.
Keywords: Arachnids, belief, danger, disgust, fear, perceived danger, preservice elementary teachers
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