A preliminary evaluation of the process-oriented Elementary Science Curriculum Project (ESCP) in Newfoundland schools

Goulding, Wallace Franklin (1972) A preliminary evaluation of the process-oriented Elementary Science Curriculum Project (ESCP) in Newfoundland schools. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

A comparison was made between two treatment groups in both grades five and six to determine the effectiveness of a process-oriented elementary science curriculum at teaching the processes of science. Experimental groups in both grades were taught the process-oriented science course and the control groups were given a content-oriented course. Control groups were given the alternate course to reduce the Hawethorne effect. -- The hypothesis investigated in this experiment related to: 1. The effect of taking a process-oriented science course on the ability of students to learn and apply in new situations scientific processes. This was measured using appropriate science process tests. -- Other aspects of the study was concerned with student and teacher attitudes towards the course. Student attitudes were elicited by means of a Q-sort instrument and teacher attitudes were evoked by means of a questionnaire. -- The experimental data was analyzed using multiple linear regression. Scores on the postest in both grades were examined in the presence of grouping, socio-economic ranking, sex, pretest results, a measure of science knowledge and aptitude (the STEP Science Test), and intelligence (the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Tests). -- Student and teacher attitudes were analyzed by obtaining a percentage summary of responses and by analyzing these responses on various variables of each instrument in relation to different independent variables using either the t-test or one-way analysis of variance. -- It was found that there was a significant difference in treatment groups in grade five in favour of the experimental group. It was concluded that students exposed to a process-oriented science course do learn the scientific processes better than students who have not taken such a course. No significant difference was found between treatment groups in grade six, but because the testing situation appeared to have changed from pretest to postest and because of differences between the experimental and the control groups which the regression analysis did not control, it was concluded that little significance could be attributed to the results, even though the experimental group showed a greater pretest-postest gain over the control group. -- An analysis of student responses revealed that student attitudes were mainly positive towards the course. The majority of students enjoyed doing the various activities in the course and felt that the course taught them how scientists think. Some negative attitudes were also expressed by a minority of students. -- The sex of the teacher and class size affected student responses, with students having female teachers displaying more positive attitudes and students from very small and very large classes showing more negative attitudes than students from middle-size classes of about thirty students. -- Teacher responses were mainly favourable, even though they did encounter some difficulties with the Teachers Guide and with classroom organization. No differences in responses were found between teachers with science education courses and science courses and those without them. Similarly, teaching experience and teaching certification did not affect teacher's responses on some variables. -- Some of the implications of the results are the following. This process-oriented science curriculum is more effective at teaching students the processes of science than are more content-oriented courses. Also, student attitudes towards the course are mainly positive. Even though teachers experienced some problems while teaching the course, none seemed insurmountable. This would suggest that, if the process approach to science teaching is a desired objective in elementary schools, the course can be adopted by interested schools. Teachers experienced some problems with the Teachers Guide. It should be more structured for elementary school teachers with a limited science background. Also, more inservice training, which would explain the aims and purposes of the course and the teaching methodology required to teach the course properly, is needed. -- This study illustrates the need for well-developed process instruments which can be used in different grades. Instruments are especially needed which test the more complex scientific processes. -- Finally, the study implies that evaluation of process science curricula is feasible and possible. Much more evaluative work on these process-oriented science curricula is needed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/4981
Item ID: 4981
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [122]-125. QEII has photocopy.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1972
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Science--Study and teaching (Elementary)--Newfoundland and Labrador

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