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Losing the Lake: Simulations to Promote Gains in Student Knowledge and Interest about Climate Change
E. Michael Nussbaum, Marissa C. Owens, Gale M. Sinatra, Abeera P. Rehmat, Jacqueline R. Cordova, Sajjad Ahmad, Fred C. Harris, Jr. & Sergiu M. Dascalu
pp. 789-811 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.277a | Article Number: ijese.2015.031
Climate change literacy plays a key role in promoting sound political decisions and promoting sustainable consumption patterns. Based on evidence suggesting that student understanding and interest in climate change is best accomplished through studying local effects, we developed a simulation/game exploring the impact of climate change on the declining water levels in Lake Mead. Because there are few evaluations of educational games using true control groups, this study also presents a randomized field trial evaluating the game. We randomly assigned 119 seventh graders to either a game-based condition or control condition. Students in the experimental group played Losing the Lake; those in the control group viewed an earth science website. Students also completed pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest measures of their content understanding and interest in issues embodied in the game. We found that playing the game resulted in a significant increase in content knowledge, as measured by a 22-item assessment, especially on items related to household conservation and some basic concepts related to the greenhouse effect. The control group showed no effect. Playing the game also resulted in some increase in student interest. The Losing the Lake game illustrates how use of a water theme can be used to make climate change content more meaningful and relevant to students. Furthermore, the study shows, through a randomized control trial, that educational games can result in conceptual development, specifically on water flow (i.e., where drinking water comes from and where it goes once used), water conservation, and the difference between weather and climate. The Losing the Lake game can therefore be useful educationally in various locales as a case study in the nature of drought, climate change effects, and water conservation practices.
Keywords: simulations, sustainability, climate change education, water resource management, educational game
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The Analysis of High School Students’ Conceptions of Learning in Different Domains
pp. 813-827 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.278a | Article Number: ijese.2015.032
The purpose of this study is to investigate whether or not conceptions of learning diverge in different science domains by identifying high school students’ conceptions of learning in physics, chemistry and biology. The Conceptions of Learning Science (COLS) questionnaire was adapted for physics (Conceptions of Learning Physics, COLP), chemistry (Conceptions of Learning Chemistry, COLC) and biology (Conceptions of Learning Biology, COLB) firstly and they were separately administered to 361 high school students at the same time. The factor structures of each questionnaire were also analyzed by exploratory factor analysis. The differences between students’ conceptions of learning in each questionnaire factors of all three domains were analyzed with paired-samples t-test. The results indicated differences in high school students’ conceptions of learning physics, chemistry and biology which were identified for all seven factors except application. In general sense, it was found that students preferred higher-level conceptions of learning biology more when compared with physics and chemistry domains. Possible implications about how students prefer to view learning from a higher-level perspective rather than a lower-level perspective, especially the ones with a high mean score in physics and chemistry (such as memorizing, preparing for exam and calculating and practicing) are discussed.
Keywords: conceptions of learning, domain difference, culture, science domain, high school students
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How Do Turkish Middle School Science Coursebooks Present the Science Process Skills?
pp. 829-843 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.279a | Article Number: ijese.2015.033
An important objective in science education is the acquisition of science process skills (SPS) by the students. Therefore, science coursebooks, among the main resources of elementary science curricula, are to convey accurate SPS. This study is a qualitative study based on the content analysis of the science coursebooks used at middle schools. In the present study, 653 science activities presented in 10 Turkish science coursebooks used for teaching science at the 5th to 8th grade were analyzed. The findings show that activities in the coursebooks are in the planning and starting skill level of SPS. The overall investigation of the science coursebooks revealed that the SPS recommended in science curriculums are not reflected in the science coursebooks used in middle schools. Skills like variables determination and controlling-changing variables are either included at the lowest rates or not at all in the science coursebooks employed. In addition, the representation of each skill varies according to the grade, publisher, and unit.
Keywords: science process skills, science coursebooks, science activities, middle school
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Investigating High School Students’ Understanding of Chemical Equilibrium Concepts
Mageswary Karpudewan, David F. Treagust, Mauro Mocerino, Mihye Won & A. L. Chandrasegaran
pp. 845-863 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.280a | Article Number: ijese.2015.034
This study investigated the year 12 students’ (N = 56) understanding of chemical equilibrium concepts after instruction using two conceptual tests, the Chemical Equilibrium Conceptual Test 1(CECT-1) consisting of nine two-tier multiple-choice items and the Chemical Equilibrium Conceptual Test 2(CECT-2) consisting of four structured questions. Both these tests were administered before and after the intervention. Students’ responses to the items in both the instruments indicated limited understanding of the various concepts related to chemical equilibrium. Less than 50% of the students provided correct responses to four of the nine items in the CECT-1. The total scores in the CECT-1 ranged from 0 to 8 with a mean score of 4.14 (out of a maximum of 9). In the CECT-2 the total scores ranged from 7 to 17 with a mean score of 11.0 out of a maximum score of 22. Almost half the number of students (44.6%) scored less than 50% of the total marks in the CECT-2; only 0% to 42.9% of students scored the maximum possible marks for each of the four items while achievement in all four items of the CECT-2 was below 50%. The findings will be valuable and assist teachers in planning their instruction on chemical equilibrium by taking into consideration students’ preconceptions about the topic.
Keywords: chemical equilibrium, dynamic equilibrium, Le Chatelier’s Principle, reversible reactions
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Cooperative Learning about Nature of Science with a Case from the History of Science
Balz Wolfensberger & Claudia Canella
pp. 865-889 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.281a | Article Number: ijese.2015.035
This paper reports a predominantly qualitative classroom study on cooperative learning about nature of science (NOS) using a case from the history of science. The purpose of the research was to gain insight into how students worked with the historical case study during cooperative group work, how students and teachers assessed the teaching unit, and in what ways students’ ideas about selected aspects of NOS changed as a result of the teaching unit. In cooperation with two biology teachers, a four-lesson teaching unit about NOS and the early research on Archaeopteryx was developed, field-tested, modified, and tested again. Altogether, five classes of 10th and 11th grade students from two Swiss schools participated. Data were collected by videotaping group work, interviews with student groups and teachers, questionnaires, and pre- and post-tests about NOS conceptions. Results show that group work was mostly of good quality, both with regard to students’ cooperation and understanding of the case study. Second, both the topic and the instructional design of the unit were judged very positively. Third, students showed more informed views on the selected target NOS aspects after the teaching unit. The paper ends with conclusions regarding teaching and learning about NOS, cooperative learning and questions for future research.
Keywords: nature of science, history of science, Archaeopteryx, classroom-based research, Cooperative Learning
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Secondary School Students’ and Their Parents’ Knowledge and Interest in Crop Plants: Why Should We Care?
Eva-Maria Fritsch & Daniel C. Dreesmann
pp. 891-904 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.282a | Article Number: ijese.2015.036
While there is increasing world-wide discussion of the importance of renewable biological resources and a bio-based economy, science educators around the world have become aware of a declining general interest in plants and agriculture and of little knowledge of plants among the public. Recently, there have been few systematic investigations on the knowledge of crops. To address this observation, we initiated a questionnaire survey with secondary school students based on the assumption that students should acquire a fundamental knowledge of agriculture and crop-plant biology during compulsory education. As home is a source of information, parents were also questioned. On the whole, 926 German secondary school students aged nine to 18 years and 314 parents participated in our questionnaire survey. The data suggest an unsatisfactory level of knowledge about crop plants among students. Girls have greater knowledge and claim to be interested in crops more often than do boys. While knowledge of species was independent of grade and age, knowledge of crop use did increase with increased years of schooling. Parents showed an overall better performance than the students’ on items involving plant recognition and their use.
Keywords: knowledge of crops, staple foods, crop plant recognition, interest in crop plants
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“Public-based-Learning”: The Place of Publics in Exploring Environmental Controversies for Pedagogical Purposes
François Mélard, Dorothée Denayer & Nathalie Semal
pp. 905-920 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.283a | Article Number: ijese.2015.037
This article examines a 15 year-old master level seminar dedicated to the exploration of local and complex environmental issues marked by scientific or technological uncertainties. Following a pragmatic learning approach, we focus our discussion on a triadic relationship between supervisors, students and various concerned publics. A local flood management controversy in Belgium will help to illustrate our approach and point to some learning outcomes. On the basis of this pedagogical experience, we propose to shift from Problem-based-learning towards Public-based-learning that rests on the comparison of the various ways a problem is defined by publics. This comparative approach allows us to deduce a plurality of modes of involvement mobilized in the management of the environmental problems.
Keywords: Public-based-Learning, pragmatic learning approach, higher education, environmental controversies, posture, symmetry
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