An investigation of junior high school students' understanding of formal concepts when taught by concrete and formal modes of instruction

Russell, John Charles (1981) An investigation of junior high school students' understanding of formal concepts when taught by concrete and formal modes of instruction. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Piaget's model of intellectual development constituted the theoretical background for the study. This model depicts intellectual development as occurring in four stages. The final two stages of the model, referred to as concrete and formal, were most relevant to the present study. As such, these stages received most elaboration. -- A number of similar studies, recently conducted, were also based primarily on this portion of the model. Many of the studies were conducted to investigate methods of effectively teaching formal concepts to concrete and formal-operational students. Since the evidence produced by these studies is inconclusive and controversial, the present study was undertaken to further investigate the possibility of teaching concrete and formal students an understanding of formal concepts. In as much as possible, the study was conducted in a naturalistic setting. -- The experimental procedures involved two teachers and four intact classes of eighth-grade science students from a junior high school in the city of St. John's. The experiment was carried out in two phases. During the first phase, one of the teachers instructed two classes of students in one of the subject areas while the other teacher instructed two different classes in the other subject area. Each teacher used a treatment designated as concrete with the class represented as the experimental group and a treatment designated as formal with the class designated as the control group. At the end of the first phase, the appropriate achievement test, comprised of comprehension and application level test items, was administered in each subject area. Also, at approximately midway through the experiment, a test to determine level of intellectual development was administered. -- The procedures followed in the second phase were similar to those used in the first. However, during this phase, the teachers switched subject areas. Each teacher also interchanged the classes previously designated as experimental and control. These cross-overs were included to control for teacher-subject and class-method interaction. Again at the end of the instructional period, the appropriate achievement tests were administered. -- Analysis of covariance was employed to analyze the scores on the two subject-matter tests developed as part of the study. The results of this analysis were used to test the following three hypotheses: there will be no significant difference in the achievement test scores between subjects receiving concrete and formal instruction; there will be no significant difference in the achievement test scores between subjects at different levels of intellectual development; and there will be no significant interaction between level of instruction and level of intellectual development with respect to students' performance on the achievement tests. On the basis of the analysis, the first and third hypotheses were supported while the second hypothesis was rejected. In addition, a post-hoc analysis of the scores on the corresponding teacher-made tests, comprised of knowledge level test items, showed that students exposed to formal instruction scored higher on these tests than students taught via concrete instruction.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7601
Item ID: 7601
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [105]-111. -- There is no page 149 in original document. Pagination continues in digital item.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1981
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Concept learning; Reasoning in children; Formal discipline

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