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The acquisition of a scientific language


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Radel, Peter James 1982 , 'The acquisition of a scientific language', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The Science theme, the 'Nature of Matter', is important in Science education. This dissertation .examines student recognition of some of the more important concept definitions associated with this theme. In July 1981 a questionnaire consisting of two science tests relating to the 'Nature of Matter' was given to 1132 students: from both Primary and High Schools. The student sample came from a relatively restricted geographical area on the North West Coast of Tasmania. The High School students ( Grades 7 to 10 ) attended two different schools, while all Primary School students ( Grades 5 and 6 ) attended feeder Primary Schools of the two High Schools. The theme, the 'Nature of Matter', had been formally introduced to High School students but not to the Primary School students. The first of the two tests attempted to determine the extent to which students recognized concept words associated with the theme the 'Nature of Matter'. Recognition, in terms of correct responses to individual concept definitions and to total scores on the test, showed an increase with increasing grade. On entering High School an 'average' student from the student sample would correctly recognize the meaning of about half of thee concept words examined in the test. It has also been showed that increased recognition is associated with high IQ estimate and good science ability. Neither gender difference nor socioeconomic status appear to be associated with any change in the recognition of the concept definitions examined. The second test examined the preferred thinking style used by students in arriving at the correct response to the individual items in the first test. While there was only 'one correct response to each item in the first test, all responses to each item in the second test were correct. In the latter test students were asked to indicate which of the responses they preferred. These responses were categorized as being one of :

(1) 'Membership' (M) where responses were considered as being elements of a set of like objects. For example, Tasmania is an island. Steam is a gas.
(2) 'Partial Association' (P) where responses are considered as relating to a 'property' of the concept word. For example, An island is surrounded by water. A liquid is usually runny and flows easily.
(3) 'Generalisation' (G) where responses are general in nature. For example, a gas describes a state of matter. An area is an amount of surface.

Each item in the second test contained four responses — one M, one G .and two P. An analysis of preferred thinking styles on individual items considered only responses where there was also a correct response to the corresponding item in the first test. This analysis indicated that with increasing grade there was a decline in the selection of Membership as a preferred thinking style and a corresponding increase in the selection of Generalisation. Preference for Partial Association remained constant over the whole grade range. The same factors which promoted increased recognition in the first test, namely high IQ Estimate and good science ability, were also responsible for an increase in the selection of Generalisation as a preferred thinking style. Preferred thinking style did not appear to be influenced by either gender difference or socioeconomic status. None of the factors examined appear to influence the selection of Partial Association as a preferred thinking style. The correct responses to the concept words examined in the first test were defined in terms of either Partial Association or Generalisation. It was found that the most preferred thinking style used by students in responding to the corresponding item in. the second test was closely allied to the way in which the actual definition was worded. For instance, where the definition was given in terms of a Generalisation then the most preferred thinking style on that definition was also Generalisation. An analysis of recognition scores of individual concept definitions of the first test showed that these scores increased after that concept definition had been formally introduced as part of the Science Education programme. However the results of the second test showed that the teaching of a given concept definition associated with the theme, the 'Nature of Matter', appeared to have little influence on preferential thinking style.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Radel, Peter James
Keywords: Science, Science
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1982 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Ed.)--University of Tasmania, 1983. Bibliography: l. 115-117

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