ISSN-2231 0495

Volume 3 || Issue 6 - Nov. 2013

A Study Of The Creative Development Of Secondary School Children In Relation To Sex And Urban And Rural Background

A Study Of The Creative Development Of Secondary School Children In Relation To Sex And Urban And Rural Background

Dr.(Mrs.) Indira Dhull
Professor,
Department Of Education,
M.D. University, Rohtak
Preeti Yadav
Research Fellow,
Department Of Education,
M.D. University, Rohtak

 

 

Introduction

The vast and splendid edifice of the civilization we have built step by step is a testimony to the original and creative thinking of man. Modern science, industry, communication and the arts owe their dazzling progress and advancement to human ingenuity and creativeness. Our victory over time and space is due to bold planning and creative imagination of great pioneers and music makers, painters and poets. Pioneers, inventors, scientists and artists over the centuries have contributed to our welfare, health, security, convenience, entertainment and happiness. Naturally, therefore individuals endowed with creativeness in any field of human endeavor are held in high esteem, they enjoy higher status and prestige, and they are more liberally remunerated by society. Creative thinking in the sciences, in human relations, in industry and in the arts is generally considered to be the highest form of mental activity for it is due to such new ideas, fresh insights and original creations that the human race has been able to record creative gains in history.

Creative thinking helps individuals to achieve a sense of personal dignity and esteem. Hence creative development has both social and personal implications. Creativity could be understood as the urge or capacity for producing something new in the realm of ideas, concepts, things or art creations.

Creativity as a natural endowment needs stimulation and nourishment. Most creative talent, unless it is given proper training, education and opportunities for expression is wasted. Moreover, creativity though not equal is universal. It is not the monopoly of a few geniuses only, everyone of us possesses some creative abilities and it not only the geniuses who are needed to create, manifest and produce.

Variables Involved In The Study

Dependent variable – Creativity

Independent variable – Sex, Urban and Rural background

Objectives

  1. To study the creative development of secondary school children along the age continuum and urban and rural background.
  2. To know the trends of creative development of boys and girls.
  3. To estimate the sex difference in creative development.
  4. To find out the zonal (urban and rural) differences in the creative development patterns of boys and girls.
  5. To know the effect of living standards and backgrounds on creativity of children.

Hypothesis

  1. There is no significant difference in the creative development of boys and girls of rural background.
  2. There is no significant difference in the creative development of boys and girls of urban background.
  3. There is no significant difference in the creative development of boys from rural background and boys from urban background.
  4. There is no significant difference in the creative development of girls from rural background and girls from urban background.

Operational Definitions of the Terms Used

  1. Creativity – According to Guilford (1963) “It is a combination of aptitude factors and disposition that enable a person to use his importance in novel ways”.

According to Brien Et Al (1953) “Creativity is the process of manipulating the environment which results in the production of new ideas, patterns or relationship”.

  1. Development – It is a comprehensive term and it is a result of growth and learning. Also it indicates total integrated change in the individual.

Design Of The Study

Under the broad canvas of the descriptive survey method of research, the design of the study consisted in taking a representative sample of 100 children (50 students from government schools and 50 students from private schools) of class 8th of Gurgaon district. Appropriate tool to access creativity of these students was used. After doing the proper scoring of the tool the data was analysed with the help of the suitable statistical techniques.

Sample Of The Study

100 students of secondary schools of Gurgaon district (50 urban students and 50 rural students) formed the sample of the study. The sample was randomly selected.

Tools Used For The Study

Test of creativity developed by Dr. B.K. Passi (verbal and non-verbal)

Statistical Techniques Used In The Study

For analysis and interpretation of data, following statistical techniques were used: Mean and S.D.

Table No.1: Mean and Standard Deviation of the Creativity of Urban and Rural Children (Boys and Girls)

Urban Children

Mean

S.D.

Urban Boys

112.8

23.24

Urban Girls

122.4

23.53

Rural Children

 

 

Rural Boys

57.2

15.87

Rural Girls

61.2

17.95

 

Table no. 1 shows that total no. of children in urban category are 50 (25 boys and 25 girls). Also the no. of children in rural category is same i.e. 50 (25 boys and 25 girls).Table no. 1 shows the difference in the results of mean and standard deviations of boys and girls from both the zones i.e urban as well as rural. We can observe from the table that urban children (both boys and girls) are at par in creativity than their counter parts rural children . As the investigator went through the answer sheets, it was observed that urban children are more creative because they are more aware of the fast progressing world around them  and the teachers as well as parents of urban children give special attention to their all round development .

Table No.2: Showing 't' value, Mean and Standard Deviation of the Creativity of Girls and Boys (Urban and Rural)

 

Urban

Rural

‘t’

 

Mean

S.D

Mean

S.D.

Value

Girls

122.4

23.53

61.2

17.95

10.46

Boys

112.8

23.24

57.2

15.87

9.89

 

The mean value of girls of urban area is 122.4 and the S.D is 23.53 and the mean value of girls from rural area is 61.2 and the S.D is 17.95, computed ‘t’ value 10.6, which is significant at 0.01 as well as 0.05 level of significance, this shows that girls from urban background are more creatively developed than girls from rural background.

Table No.3: Showing 't' value, Mean and Standard Deviation of the Creativity of Girls and Boys (Urban and Rural)

 

Girls

Boys

‘t’

 

Mean

S.D

Mean

S.D.

Value

Urban

122.4

23.53

112.8

23.24

1.46

Rural

61.2

17.95

57.2

15.87

0.835

The table no. 2 and 3 show the mean, S.D and ‘t’ value of the scores of creativity test conducted on the boys and girls of urban and rural backgrounds.

The mean value of boys of urban area is 112.8 and S.D is 23.24 and the mean value of boys from rural area is 57.2 and S.D is 15.87, computed ‘t’ value 9.89, which is significant at 0.01 as well as 0.05 level of significance. This shows that boys from urban background are more creatively developed than boys from rural background.

The mean value of urban boys is 112.8 and S.D is 23.24 and the mean value of urban girls is 122.4 and S.D is 23.53, computed ‘t’ value 1.46 which is insignificant at 0.01 as well as 0.05 level of significance. This shows that there is no significant difference in the creative developments of boys and girls of urban area.

The mean value of rural boys is 57.2 and S.D is 15.87 and the mean value of rural girls is 61.2 and S.D is 17.95 , computed ‘t’ value 0.835, which is insignificant at 0.01 as well as 0.05 level of significance. This shows that there is no significant difference in the creative development of boys and girls of rural area.

Major Findings

  1. Girls in relation to boys are marginally more creative. Though the difference is not significant according to the ‘t’ value but the difference can be noticed from their mean values. And thus, it was found through this study that girls are slightly more creatively developed at secondary level than boys in both urban as well as rural areas.
  2. Both boys and girls belonging to urban background are more creative than their rural counterparts. The mean score and ‘t’ test both prove this point. The probable reason may be that urban children are provided with larger outlook towards life and environment. Also the kind of education they get in private schools and the home environment of urban children are greatly responsible for their better creative skills.
  3. The trends of creative development of boys and girls were not linear. Some boys were very creative and some girls were creatively at par but at the same time there were boys as well as girls who were not very creative or lacked creative skills.

Conclusions

On the basis of the discussions of results and findings of the study the following conclusions are drawn:

  1. The boys and girls of secondary level of rural background do not differ significantly in their creative developments.
  2. The boys and girls of secondary level of urban area also do not differ significantly in their creative developments.
  3. The trends of creative development of boys and girls were not linear.

Educational Implications of the Study

The results of the study can be of grave use in our practical life. Study of creative development of children can reveal the imagination powers, flexibility, fluency, originality and sensitivity of their minds. Parents as well as teachers can know about the hidden talent in their words. The students can utilize their creativity in such a way that they can achieve maximum in their lives.

This study would help the school psychologists, teachers and parents to prepare the children for the vocation of their choice and to plan insightfully of their future career. Since creative expression is as differentiated as are individuals, the knowledge of stages of creative growth in relation to the general development allows the pupils to move towards their greatest scholastic achievement and personal fulfillment.

Therefore, with the help of this study teachers as well as parents will realize the need of creating an environment conducive to full growth and development of the creative abilities of children. Proper stimulation and nurturing of the traits help to develop creativity namely: originality, flexibility, ideational fluency, divergent thinking, self confidence, persistence, sensitiveness, ability to use relationship and make associations etc.

Bibliography

Aggarwal, Y.P (1998) : The Science Of Educational Research ; A Source Book, Nirmal, Kurukshetra.

A.B. Bhatnagar & Meenakshi  : Advanced Educational Psychology, International Publishing House, Meerut.

Best, John W. & Kahn James V  : Research In Education , Prentice Hall, New Delhi

Drevdahl, J.E., :  Factors Of Importance For Creativity.

Getzels, J.W. And Jackson, P.W. (1962) : Creativity And Intelligence, New York, John Wiley.

Garrett, H.E. (1973) : Statistics In Psychology And Education,  Vakils, Simon, Bombay.

Gates, A.T. Et. AL (1963): Educational Psychology, New York: Mac Millan.

Kundu, C.L.1984 : Educational Psychology, Delhi  Sterling Publishers.

Koul, Lokesh (1988): Methodology Of Research, Vikas, New Delhi.

J. Atkinson, E. Berne & Wood Worth, R.S. : Dictionary Of Psychology (4th Edition).

Rossman, Quoted By B.S. Dagar 1989 : Culture, Education And Creativity, Delhi : Uppal Publishing House.

Mangal, S.K. 1989: Educational Psychology (8th Ed.) Prakash Brothers Publication.

Sharma, V.P. : Creativity Potentials And Prospects.

Taylor, J.A.( 1960) : Creativity: An Examination Of The Creative Process, New York: Hasting House, .

Torrence, E.P. And Mayers, R.E. (1970): Creative Learning And Teaching, New York: Dodd, Mead .

 

Critical Pedagogy in English Language Teaching

Critical Pedagogy in English Language Teaching

Dr. Suman Dalal
Associate Professor,
Dean Faculty of Education and Chairperson,
B.P.S. Institute of Teacher Training & Research, B.P.S. Mahilla Vishwavidyalaya

Introduction

The NCF2005 is a step towards a seamless collaboration, seamless roaming within a field to promote literacy, oracy and numeracy. The migratory movements in the history of education focus a fresh look at the curriculum. It is an era of synergy toward education, wisdom and knowledge. It is also because India is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, after China and Brazil. The NCF 2005 envisages a paradigm shift to overcome problems that haunt our contemporary educational system, so as to make way for Education for All by 2012. A major attempt has been to enlist critical pedagogy as it provides an opportunity to reflect critically on issues in terms of their political, social, cultural and economic commitment in democratic forms of interaction. Its critical framework helps students to see social norms from different perspectives and understand how social issues are connected to their lives.

Critical Pedagogy

Critical Pedagogy facilitates collective decision making through open discussion and by encouraging and recognizing multiple views. This is not wholly possible in ELT, yet we would like to take a view on how it can be put across, and serve as a bridge in many countries of the world where English is spoken and understood, a prominent role for the mother tongue notwithstanding. I came across the word glocal recently, meaning thereby to think globally, but act locally, according to the surroundings, environment and the teaching tools available.

Critical Pedagogy roots itself in the belief that every citizen deserves education; there is a distinction between schooling and education. Given the structure of schools, in which a socially efficient system of management and control is in place, schools often forget about the role of an educated person and rely more on schooling methods to secure a future for students. The promise of enlightenment doesn’t reside in schooling; it does so in receiving an education.

Education presupposes intrinsic motivation-the student is intrinsically motivated to learn and the teacher is intrinsically motivated to teach. While grades and the like are an important element in school structures, the reason for teaching and learning are not fuelled by numbers but by a sheer desire to attain knowledge for knowledge sake. Put differently, education in schools as well as at the higher levels involves passion for one’s subject, the ability to get students to think critically, being creative about subject matter, creating a classroom of an active community revolving around the learning of material and the strong desire to teach and to learn. Above all else, education involves the teacher’s understanding of the schooling structure.

Critical Consciousness

Paulo Freire had developed the concept of Critical Consciousness in which he maintains that pedagogy not only involves reading the word but also reading the world. This is developing critical consciousness which allows people to question the nature of their historical and social association to read their world with the goal of acting as subjects in the creation of a democratic society. Freire implies that education is a dialogic exchange between teachers and students where both learn, both question, both reflect and participate in the making of meaning.

Dialogue

The essence of all learning is the dialogue that a bond is created between the teacher and the taught. Dialogue promotes reciprocity, mutuality and continual growth, so knowledge can be constructed through dialogue; knowledge is not a finished product but is an ongoing process. Dialogue creates the space needed for multiple interpretations and contestations. Humanization requires critical consciousness, which comes from questioning what one knows. We then make a conscious decision to see the reasons for the reality one lives in freedom from oppression. Only then the oppressed achieve consciousness and use the knowledge to gain praxis, that is a reflection on readings, current events, situations, and questions that leads a student to act on those findings. Dialogic spirit is its essence; it is an experience through examining sharing and suffering. Passionate  and intense criticality leads to humanism and commitment to lifelong projects that are free from exploitation, domination, injustice and violence.

Critical consciousness is a means that one questions and looks at it from all possible angles. It does not take things for granted. It may be clarified that criticality is not cynicism. Rarely do we find teachers involved in the preparation of the curriculum or in the writing of texts they are asked to teach. This is taken care of in the NCF 2005 since there were 21 focus groups involved in the preparation of focus papers on different angles of education and school subjects. Schoolteachers were on all committees in the preparation of textbooks. The whole was then put on the NCERT website for the world at large to see, read, make suggestions, and give their views. Students, teachers, parents at all levels, stakeholders, responded and made the NCF 2005 a complete democratic document envisioning the India of Gandhi and Tagore within the tenets of the general polity of our nation.

The Run of English

The general impression of society is that English language is the only way through which one can attain the truth. The consequence is that students are not encouraged to tape the abundant cultural resources available in Indian languages. At the same time Englsih alienates specially from the larger collective so called educated people continue to remain indifferent to the reality of poverty, exploitation and discrimination. The knowledge acquired by them does not help relate to the larger society. It makes them outsiders. It is in this sense that the aim of Lord Macaulay still holds in spite of sixty years of independence. By encouraging multilingualism, bilingualism and language across the curriculum NCF 2005 has made efforts to usher in different tongues, to enable those to speak in a language whose voices have been stolen.

English language learners produce errors of syntax and pronunciation believed to have resulted from the influence of their L1, such as mapping its grammatical patterns inappropriately onto the L2, pronouncing certain sounds incorrectly or with difficulty, and confusing items of vocabulary. This is known as L1 transfer or language ‘interference’. However, these transfer effects are typically stronger for beginners’ language production, and SLA research has highlighted many errors which cannot be attributed to L1.

English is perhaps not more complex than other major languages; it has several features which may create difficulties for many learners. Conversely, because such a larger number of people want to learn English, products and books have been developed written with a restricted defining vocabulary.

Because of the changes in pronunciation which have occurred since a written standard developed, and retention of historical idiosyncrasies,  English spelling is difficult even for native speakers to master. This difficulty is apparent in activities such as spelling bees that generally require memorization of words. We also rely on computer tools such as spell checkers more than speakers of other languages. The generalizations that exist are quite complex and there are many exceptions leading to much rote learning. The spelling system causes problems in both directions a learner may know a word by sound but not be able to write it correctly, or they may see a word written but not know how pronounce it.

Varieties of English

There are thriving communities of indigenous English speakers in countries all over the world, and this historical diaspora has led to noticeable differences in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar across different social strata within the same country. The world has about 12000 languages and most exist within only a small geographic area. Even most of the top 100 are limited to a small number of countries or even a single state. Some of the more well-known languages, such as French and Spanish are to some degree managed by a specific organization that determines the most prestigious from of the language. Since many students of English study it to enable them to communicate internationally, the lack of a uniform international standard for the language poses barriers in meeting this goal.

Language teaching practice often assumes that most of the difficulties that learners face in the study of English are consequence of the degree to which their native language differs from English. A native speaker of Chinese, for example, may face many more difficulties than a native speaker of German. This may be true for anyone of any mother tongue (also called first language, normally abbreviated L1) setting out learn any other language (called a target language, second language or L2).

EFL indicates the use of English in a non-English-speaking region. Study can occur either in the students home country, as part of the normal school curriculum or otherwise, for the more privileged minority, in an Anglophone country which they visit as a sort of educational tourist. Typically, EFL is learned either to pass exams as a necessary part of one’s education, or for progress in career while working for an organization or business with an international focus. EFL may be part of the state school curriculum in countries where English has no special status. Teachers of EFL generally assume that students are literate in their mother tongue.

The field of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), which addresses the communicative needs and practices of a particular professional or occupational group, has developed rapidly in recent years to become a major force in English language teaching and research. ESP draws its strength from an eclectic theoretical foundation and commitment to research-based language education which seeks to reveal the constraints of social context on language use and the way learners can gain control over these. ESP focuses on needs analysis ethnography, critical approaches contrastive rhetoric social constructions, and discourse analysis. The effects ESP has had on language teaching and research, is that it has encouraged teachers to highlight communication rather that language, to adopt a research orientation to their work, to employ collaborative pedagogies, to be aware of discourse variation, and to consider the wider political implications of their role. Together these features of ESP practice emphasize a situated view of literacy and underline the applied nature of the field.

Experience Schooling

Even knowledge is oppressive. Whatever is taught in schools through the text and curriculum is regarded as true and legitimate; all else is secondary. Such a monopolistic tendency denies all alternate sources of knowledge and learning. It limits one’ possibilities, restricts one’s horizon, and stunts creative growth. Besides, it develops a chronic anxiety to gain mastery over legitimate knowledge. It thus takes away the joy and aesthetics that form a part of the process of learning. As knowledge is reified in the form of texts , human  experiences tend to be forgotten. Thus such legitimate knowledge makes the marginalized yet inferior. With progressive thought, schools were viewed as forms of social control that merely mirrored social class distinctions and gender inequity. Critical pedagogy as a concept and resulting practices having arisen as a form of thought and action to challenge the dominant and oppressive ideologies constructed historically around school concerns.

Reflection

Through the means of Critical Pedagogy an attempt can be made to bridge the gap between the ideal and real. Critical Pedagogy is the giving of space to the hitherto unheard voices of the society. Critical reflection has to be the cornerstone of our education system, in urban and rural contexts, the favored and the marginalized so that education becomes an instrument for social change. The teacher has to reflect, to think, as how to find a balance between traditional teaching and a desire to usher in Critical Pedagogy. As human beings, as teachers, we do not know our own greatness. We make requests and  have desires. But no desire goes in vain and no request is futile. We teachers are looking for an identity. The search for identity depends on much more than a label, that of a teacher.

Conclusion

Simply, remain a teacher who relies on schooling is the despair that we all can fall into. School structures have a way of deskilling the teacher and robbing her/him of the enthusiasm to proceed with their job creatively. Critical Pedagogy is to simultaneously be reflective on how one is personally educating themselves and their clientele, while also attempting to move out the school, both theoretically and practically. Herein lays the hope for teachers in asking and answering this following question. To what end do I teach? And then, subsequently, taking action. When you can truly answer that question, you will reline that teaching is more than about transmitting the basics. It is really about the vitality of educating for citizenship, democracy and the hope that this can be passed on the future generations. All change is for the better. It will help in education India. An integrated and educated India will be much stronger than the present though we still have miles to go.

References

Freire, Paulo (1970): Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York

Illich, Ivan (1971): De schooling Society, Penguin Books, London.

NCERT 2005: National Curriculum Framework, New Delhi

Pathak, A. (2002): Social Implications of Schooling Knowledge, Pedagogy and Consciousness, Rainbow, Delhi.

 

The ‘OTHER’ Concept in Learning Science: Its Formation and Related Challanges

The ‘OTHER’ Concept in Learning Science: Its Formation and Related Challanges

Rakesh Kumar

Assistant Professor

MV COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,

University of Delhi.

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to contextualise the Reasons for the development of Alternative Frameworks and identify methods/tools/techniques/practices/apparatuses/ methods/procedures that have been accepted in the related literature. It has been recognized that there are many identified reasons for the formation of alternative frameworks like the lack of the inquiry approach in the classroom, deficiency of independent investigations, teachers relying solely on textbooks, learners’ relying on memory or learnt procedures to answer almost all questions, amongst others. What is a concept, what is conceptual learning and how are these related with addressing Alternative Frameworks is discussed. Challenges like resistance posed by learners, designing experiences relevant to challenge to the existing concepts of the learners, mediating conceptual change, metacognitive support and relevant metaphors find its way in the discussions.

 

Key Words: Formation of Alternative Frameworks, Addressing Alternative Frameworks, Concept Learning, Preconceptions\ Prior Learning\ Naive Ideas


Introduction:

Alternative Frameworks that refer to the constructions of reality ‘OTHER’ than the ‘Scientific Concepts’ have been referred to as mistakes, errors, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, naïve theories and naïve conceptions also. A review of various dimensions of formation of Alternative Frameworks brings forth the issue of this gap between ‘scientific concepts’ and ‘other’ concepts. We all agree that Science education aims to develop these scientific conceptions in our learners. Concept specific researches bring forth as examples some of the vast possibilities of these Alternative Frameworks in both Indian contexts and in international perspective. Challenges like moving away from daily life experiences for scientific concept modelling, problem of 3-D representation, constraints of being a teacher (as expected to be knowing everything perfectly), language barriers and ambiguity etc. have been identified. Also, there are identified constraints and challenges related to formation of Alternative Frameworks among learners in science.

Alternative frameworks are not a resultant of just personal meaning making or conflicting viewpoints. They may be a consequence of a difference between learners pace of learning and the pace with which learner is presented with the information to be interpreted. The passive teaching learning environments, issues of abstraction and concretisation, un-engaging and non-thought provoking learning environments, use of inappropriate common analogies, pictures and diagrams in 2-D representing 3-D visualisations and age/stage specific learning difficulties have been identified in these researches.

For addressing alternative frameworks the identification of their potential sites and possible reasons can be the most important first step in addressing them. Deep probing, challenging the existing model and presenting the plausible model in the child’s own context are the keys to address these Alternative Frameworks. The reasons for the formation of Alternative Frameworks cannot be classified as, present in the classroom settings or outside it.  That  is  to  say  both  formal  and  informal environments  of  the  learners'  expeditions  to  understand  reality  are  the  potential sources.

Why do Alternative Frameworks develop?

On the basis of Research, examination of curriculum materials, and observations of learners and teachers, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pointed out some of the identified reasons for learner confusion and Alternative Frameworks (Stepans, 1994). The following box provides the details of the reasons.

 

1.      Learners’ ideas do not always evolve as quickly as the rate of concept presentation in most textbooks and in many teacher-designed units of instruction.

2.      Language used by teachers and textbooks may confuse some learners.

3.      There is often unexplored conflict between learners’ everyday experiences and the classroom or textbook presentation.

4.      Immediate introduction of scientific definitions and formulas (many of which are abstract) are not necessarily convincing or meaningful to learners if they haven’t had sufficient experience with the ideas first. Traditionally, many learners engage in activities after presentation and discussion about the concept. These activities tend to be verification rather than inquiry-based where learners construct an understanding based on observations and evidence they gather.

5.      Understanding is often expected before learners have a chance to adequately explore and convince themselves of what they have been told. Ideas are often imposed on learners, rather than allowing them to have the opportunity to make sense of something by exploring and developing ideas/models over time. “Covering” the curriculum without devoting enough time for building true understanding is counterproductive.

6.      Beliefs resulting from personal experience, intuition, and “common sense” lead learners to form their own ideas and models, often well before formal instruction. These experiences and feelings seem to contradict what learners read in their textbooks and/or are told by their teacher. Even with instruction, it is often difficult for learners to give up these ideas, or they may revert back to them later even though it appears they may have “learned” the correct ideas in class. Instruction which fails to identify what learners’ initial ideas can leave learners’ erroneous ideas unchanged. It’s similar to a doctor diagnosing an illness. You wouldn’t prescribe a course of treatment without examining the symptoms first.

7.      Teachers and schools (even tests!) often erroneously assume that learners understand a concept based on the words learners use when describing something (e.g.: evaporation). Scientific terminology is not sufficient evidence of learning unless you can ensure that learners use the terms with meaning.

8.      Demonstrations used by teachers are often passive where learners sit back and observe without manipulating materials or experiencing the phenomenon   individually or in small groups.

9.      Pictures, diagrams, and 2-dimensional models in textbooks and other instructional materials can be misleading, and result in Alternative Frameworks.

10.    Some common analogies used to explain ideas can cause difficulty because the similarity is not complete.

11.    Everyday use of certain terms, often used in non-scientific contexts, contributes to learners’ confusion. Some words have many different connotations in the English language and the “scientific word” can easily be confused with a common use (e.g.: heat rises).

12.    Some ideas are just too abstract and difficult for many learners who are still at a concrete learning stage (empty space between atoms and molecules).

13.    Memorization of ideas can cause more difficulty, particularly for academically good learners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inquiry-based learning is an approach by which science teaching can be improved by engaging learners in authentic investigations. (Kubicek, 2005) emphasizes that the inquiry approach, while lauded by educators, is still not prevalent in the classroom, and is often misused. This may be the result of multiple factors, such as amount of classroom time, lack of effective means for learners to conduct independent investigations, the difficulty of incorporating abstract concepts with inquiry, and lack of teacher expertise and experience.

Absence of the inquiry based learning has been located in Indian contexts. (Educational Initiatives, 2009)conducted a national level research study over 32,000 learners from 142 leading schools of five metros - Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore. The findings of the study indicate that learners across classes answer rote-based or procedural questions relatively well. They seem to rely on memory or learnt procedures to answer almost all questions, rather than trying to think through and solve the unfamiliar ones. So when they come across a question similar to one they have ‘learnt’, they ‘jump’ to the most familiar answer they find. Learning had been observed to be compartmentalised, i.e. they may be aware of two pieces of information, but often not know how they are related or how that relation works in a real life situation.

Overall recommendations by the study are multi-dimensional. For example, when updating textbooks and during teacher training programmes, such  findings should be taken into account; The nature of questions in the Board Exams should change with more questions that test learning with understanding; Teacher education should also be understanding focus rather than rote-focused; Boards should start awarding learners a percentile score in every paper; India should participate in international benchmarking assessments like the TIMSS which test learners on how well they can apply the learnt competencies/concepts.

The issue related to textbook raised by Educational Initiatives above is an important one as the textbook is usually regarded by educators throughout the world as a good source of information for teaching. (Abimbola & Baba, 1996) stated that American biology teachers rely solely on textbooks for use in their instruction. According to them, “Nearly 90% of teachers use a textbook 90% of the time”. In India too, science teachers seem to rely solely on textbooks for the appropriate content materials that satisfy the requirements of the science syllabi and the national curricula in the different science subjects. Infrastructural constraints indicate that textbooks are perhaps the only learning materials available and used in most Indian schools.

The issue of textbooks in the context of present study becomes more relevant when we look at the findings of (Deshmukh & Deshmukh, 2009). Findings indicate that many learners and textbook writers have Alternative Frameworks about various biological concepts. These Alternative Frameworks have been found to be generally based on social practices and school experiences but also may have come from the textbooks. The study contents that the illustrations given in the textbook can play a significant role in the learning process as they can facilitate the understanding of the scientific content. Therefore, they should be carefully chosen in order to facilitate learners’ learning and to prevent their alternative conceptions from being reinforced and/or induced by them. Also, it has been contented that many science textbook researchers, teachers and learners, are unaware of many of the Alternative Frameworks in science textbooks and the dangers such Alternative Frameworks pose to a thorough understanding of biology concepts. A point that can be highlighted from this study is that textbooks are human enterprises and should not be expected to be perfect materials.

The highlights from the study done abroad and from the Indian contexts raised issues about how and where Alternative Frameworks can develop among learners of science. Addressing them is a challenge in front of science educators.

Addressing Alternative Frameworks

Addressing Alternative Frameworks can be understood as moving from one conceptual framework to the other. This movement inherently means learning a new concept. This learning of new concept has been found to be directly affected by prior learning in the earlier sections. A brief outline of what is a concept, how it is learnt and the impact of prior learning is therefore part of our understanding of addressing Alternative Frameworks.

What is a Concept?

(Zirbel, 2006) articulates concepts as mental representations that, in their simplest form, can be expressed by a single word, such as plant or animal, alive or dead, table or chair, apple or orange. Concepts may also represent a set of ideas that can be described by a few words. More complex concepts can describe a whole idea, like for example "the theory of natural selection or the big bang model of the universe". In other words, within a particular representational structure, concepts help us make deductions and explain even more complex ideas. Concept can thus act like building blocks of more complex or even abstract representations.

Concept Learning

In objectivist epistemology (Rand, 1990), concept learning refers to a learning task in which a human or machine learner is trained to classify objects by being shown a set of example objects along with their class labels. The learner will simplify what has been observed in an example. This simplified version of what has been learned will then be applied to future examples. For instance, in learning the concept of “length", if a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have in common, but their specific lengths differ. The difference is one of measurement. In order to form the concept "length," the child's mind retains the attribute and omits its particular measurements.

(Rand, 1990) identified the multiple roles of measurements in the process of concept-formation; two essential parts: differentiation and integration has been identified as the concepts that cannot be formed at random. All concepts are formed by first differentiating two or more existents from other existents.

According to (Blunden, 2009), Concepts arise as solutions to problems. This has been explained in terms of the concept being formed with the emergence of a need that can be satisfied in the concept. What is central to this process is the functional use of the sign or word as the means through which the child masters and subordinates his own mental operations.

Role of Preconceptions\ Prior Learning\ Naive Ideas

A significant role of preconceptions in science learning is that they could channel the interpretation of subsequent teaching and affect learners’ developing conceptions. Particularly, an alternative conceptual framework often acts as an impediment to effective learning of scientific conceptions (Taber, 2003a). Therefore, the most important pedagogical knowledge a successful teacher should have is what misconception learners usually tend to have before and after teaching (Taber, 2000) Once we build the knowledge and skills, we can plan more effective lessons that help learners develop scientific ideas.

Alternative Frameworks – A challenge

(Fensham, 1994) highlighted one of the most important difficulties in addressing Alternative Frameworks. “It is not easy to change learners' schemes of understanding. Research in the learning of science for example has shown that many pupils resist changing their everyday and naive views on  how  the  natural  world works, despite being able to play back the ‘correct’ science explanations in formal tests” (Fensham, 1994). In order that these are addressed, many strategies and approaches have been suggested.

Learners’ Alternative Frameworks do not fall down unless science teaching permits constructions of reasonable and accessible other ideas. This cannot happen by means of a single operation: Learners must be conscious of their misconceptions, ideas must be confronted, learners must take on new models accessible to their minds (Strike, 1982); and finally, learners must learn to distinguish the context (macroscopic vs. microscopic) in which different conceptual schemes can be applied (diSessa, 1993).

(Omar, 2010) suggests,

“Misconceptions can be displaced and learners will accept a scientific conception if:

  • The learner understands the meaning of the scientific conception.
  • The scientific conception is believable (this means that it must be compatible with the learner's other conceptions.
  • The scientific conception is found to be useful to the learner in interpreting, explaining or predicting phenomena that cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the formerly held misconceptions (i.e. the scientific concept must be seen to be better than the learner's prior belief).
  • The learner progressively gains expertise in using the new scientific concepts (a slow process requiring a long time period and gradual building of knowledge through experience)” (Omar, 2010).

(Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007) linked mediating conceptual change with what scientists do. “Certain interventions, in particular those involving an explanation of what scientists expected to happen and why, were very effective in mediating conceptual change when encountering counterintuitive evidence. With particular scaffolds, children made observations independent of theory, and they changed their beliefs based on observed evidence” (Duschl et al., 2007). This also support the experiencing of science has discussed in earlier sections. (Taber, 2003b) reviewed many researches to support the role of metacognition of addressing alternative frameworks metaphors are needed to be specifically built for the teachers so that these are not formed. “Given time and suitable instruction, learners can often manage to develop and improve their mental models so that they bring them closer to the curriculum targets. However, this can be a slow process” (Taber, 2003b).

Metaphors for addressing alternative frameworks can be built up. But teachers need to be specifically cautious in using these metaphors so that the formation of alternative frameworks is avoided to the maximum extent possible. “The main reason for this is that microscopic world of chemistry is difficult for them to experience, and thus chemistry teachers use a lot of analogies and metaphors to explain chemistry concepts. Therefore, it is particularly important for chemistry teachers to know how to avoid our teaching from being misinterpreted and leading to common misconceptions”.

Conclusions

From the analysis of concept specific researches it has emerged that the formation of abstract models is a key factor in the formation of Alternative Frameworks. In this context, the language used by the teacher, providing space for multiple interpretations by the learners, engaging learners in a metacognitive manner to reflect on their own learning, encouraging learners to generate, explain and put forth their arguments and models become important considerations. These aspects also play an important role while addressing the Alternative Frameworks.

The teacher plays an important role in addressing these Alternative Frameworks. For this, the teacher should be able to locate the Alternative Frameworks amongst learners, focus on individual explorations by them and try to analyse learner’s reactions and responses. A classroom environment for addressing the Alternative Frameworks will constitute the need to test the concepts of the learners, modify the language as per learners’ needs and contextualising the teaching-learning process and the pedagogical environment as per their needs.

The systemic pressure of reproducing the expected answers forces the learner into rote memorisation. Language used to explain scientific concepts is an effective tool in the reproduction of the bookish explanations and examples of these concepts. In order to locate the possible sites of Alternative Frameworks amongst learners we need to find ways so that the memorised responses may be avoided and a free and open ended option to express the understanding is available to the learner. One such possibility is to analyse the pictures and diagrams made by them openly along with the keywords that they associate with those diagrams and pictures related to a science concept.

References

  • Abimbola, I. O., & Baba, S. (1996). Misconceptions & alternative conceptions in science textbooks: The role of teachers as filters. The American Biology Teacher. JSTOR.
  • Blunden, A. (2009). When is a concept really a concept? Retrieved from http://home.mira.net/~andy/works/concept-really-concept.htm
  • Deshmukh, N. D., & Deshmukh, V. M. (2009). A study of students’ misconceptions in biology at the secondary school level. Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Hands on Science.
  • diSessa, A. A. (1993). Toward an Epistemology of Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 10(2), 105–225. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci1002&3_2
  • Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A., & Shouse, A. W. (2007). Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. (R. A. Duschl, H. A. Schweingruber, & A. W. Shouse, Eds.)Taking Science to School. Washington, D.C.: THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS.
  • Fensham, P. (1994). The content of science. London: The Falmer Press.
  • (p. 43). Besut, Terengganu: Teacher Education Institute Campus, Sultan Mizan Ministry of Education Malasia. Retrieved from http://azman.ipgmksm.edu.my/sce3102/modulcsl.pdf
  • Rand, A. (1990). Introduction to objectivist epistemology. (H. B. Leonard Peikoff, Ed.). New York: New American Library.
  • Stepans, J. (1994). Targeting students’ science misconceptions: Physical Science activities using the conceptual change model. Idea Factory, Incorporated.
  • Strike, K. A. (1982). Conceptual change and science teaching. European Journal of Science Education, 4, 231–240.
  • Taber, K. S. (2000). Multiple frameworks?: Evidence of manifold conceptions in individual cognitive structure. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 399–418.
  • Taber, K. S. (2003a). Mediating mental models of metals: Acknowledging the priority of the learner’s prior learning. Science Education, 87, 732–758.
  • Taber, K. S. (2003b). Responding to alternative conceptions in the classroom. School Science Review, 84(2), 99–108.
  • Zirbel, E. L. (2006). Teaching to promote deep understanding and instigate conceptual change. In Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (Vol. 38, p. 1220).

 

 

The ‘OTHER’ Concept in Learning Science: Its Formation and Related Challanges

The ‘OTHER’ Concept in Learning Science: Its Formation and Related Challanges

Rakesh Kumar

Assistant Professor

MV COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,

University of Delhi.

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to contextualise the Reasons for the development of Alternative Frameworks and identify methods/tools/techniques/practices/apparatuses/ methods/procedures that have been accepted in the related literature. It has been recognized that there are many identified reasons for the formation of alternative frameworks like the lack of the inquiry approach in the classroom, deficiency of independent investigations, teachers relying solely on textbooks, learners’ relying on memory or learnt procedures to answer almost all questions, amongst others. What is a concept, what is conceptual learning and how are these related with addressing Alternative Frameworks is discussed. Challenges like resistance posed by learners, designing experiences relevant to challenge to the existing concepts of the learners, mediating conceptual change, metacognitive support and relevant metaphors find its way in the discussions.

 

Key Words: Formation of Alternative Frameworks, Addressing Alternative Frameworks, Concept Learning, Preconceptions\ Prior Learning\ Naive Ideas


Introduction:

Alternative Frameworks that refer to the constructions of reality ‘OTHER’ than the ‘Scientific Concepts’ have been referred to as mistakes, errors, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, naïve theories and naïve conceptions also. A review of various dimensions of formation of Alternative Frameworks brings forth the issue of this gap between ‘scientific concepts’ and ‘other’ concepts. We all agree that Science education aims to develop these scientific conceptions in our learners. Concept specific researches bring forth as examples some of the vast possibilities of these Alternative Frameworks in both Indian contexts and in international perspective. Challenges like moving away from daily life experiences for scientific concept modelling, problem of 3-D representation, constraints of being a teacher (as expected to be knowing everything perfectly), language barriers and ambiguity etc. have been identified. Also, there are identified constraints and challenges related to formation of Alternative Frameworks among learners in science.

Alternative frameworks are not a resultant of just personal meaning making or conflicting viewpoints. They may be a consequence of a difference between learners pace of learning and the pace with which learner is presented with the information to be interpreted. The passive teaching learning environments, issues of abstraction and concretisation, un-engaging and non-thought provoking learning environments, use of inappropriate common analogies, pictures and diagrams in 2-D representing 3-D visualisations and age/stage specific learning difficulties have been identified in these researches.

For addressing alternative frameworks the identification of their potential sites and possible reasons can be the most important first step in addressing them. Deep probing, challenging the existing model and presenting the plausible model in the child’s own context are the keys to address these Alternative Frameworks. The reasons for the formation of Alternative Frameworks cannot be classified as, present in the classroom settings or outside it.  That  is  to  say  both  formal  and  informal environments  of  the  learners'  expeditions  to  understand  reality  are  the  potential sources.

Why do Alternative Frameworks develop?

On the basis of Research, examination of curriculum materials, and observations of learners and teachers, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pointed out some of the identified reasons for learner confusion and Alternative Frameworks (Stepans, 1994). The following box provides the details of the reasons.

 

1.      Learners’ ideas do not always evolve as quickly as the rate of concept presentation in most textbooks and in many teacher-designed units of instruction.

2.      Language used by teachers and textbooks may confuse some learners.

3.      There is often unexplored conflict between learners’ everyday experiences and the classroom or textbook presentation.

4.      Immediate introduction of scientific definitions and formulas (many of which are abstract) are not necessarily convincing or meaningful to learners if they haven’t had sufficient experience with the ideas first. Traditionally, many learners engage in activities after presentation and discussion about the concept. These activities tend to be verification rather than inquiry-based where learners construct an understanding based on observations and evidence they gather.

5.      Understanding is often expected before learners have a chance to adequately explore and convince themselves of what they have been told. Ideas are often imposed on learners, rather than allowing them to have the opportunity to make sense of something by exploring and developing ideas/models over time. “Covering” the curriculum without devoting enough time for building true understanding is counterproductive.

6.      Beliefs resulting from personal experience, intuition, and “common sense” lead learners to form their own ideas and models, often well before formal instruction. These experiences and feelings seem to contradict what learners read in their textbooks and/or are told by their teacher. Even with instruction, it is often difficult for learners to give up these ideas, or they may revert back to them later even though it appears they may have “learned” the correct ideas in class. Instruction which fails to identify what learners’ initial ideas can leave learners’ erroneous ideas unchanged. It’s similar to a doctor diagnosing an illness. You wouldn’t prescribe a course of treatment without examining the symptoms first.

7.      Teachers and schools (even tests!) often erroneously assume that learners understand a concept based on the words learners use when describing something (e.g.:        evaporation). Scientific terminology is not sufficient evidence of learning unless you can ensure that learners use the terms with meaning.

8.      Demonstrations used by teachers are often passive where learners sit back and observe without manipulating materials or experiencing the phenomenon                individually or in small groups.

9.      Pictures, diagrams, and 2-dimensional models in textbooks and other instructional materials can be misleading, and result in Alternative Frameworks.

10.    Some common analogies used to explain ideas can cause difficulty because the similarity is not complete.

11.    Everyday use of certain terms, often used in non-scientific contexts, contributes to learners’ confusion. Some words have many different connotations in the English language and the “scientific word” can easily be confused with a common use (e.g.: heat rises).

12.    Some ideas are just too abstract and difficult for many learners who are still at a concrete learning stage (empty space between atoms and molecules).

13.    Memorization of ideas can cause more difficulty, particularly for academically good learners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inquiry-based learning is an approach by which science teaching can be improved by engaging learners in authentic investigations. (Kubicek, 2005) emphasizes that the inquiry approach, while lauded by educators, is still not prevalent in the classroom, and is often misused. This may be the result of multiple factors, such as amount of classroom time, lack of effective means for learners to conduct independent investigations, the difficulty of incorporating abstract concepts with inquiry, and lack of teacher expertise and experience.

Absence of the inquiry based learning has been located in Indian contexts. (Educational Initiatives, 2009)conducted a national level research study over 32,000 learners from 142 leading schools of five metros - Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore. The findings of the study indicate that learners across classes answer rote-based or procedural questions relatively well. They seem to rely on memory or learnt procedures to answer almost all questions, rather than trying to think through and solve the unfamiliar ones. So when they come across a question similar to one they have ‘learnt’, they ‘jump’ to the most familiar answer they find. Learning had been observed to be compartmentalised, i.e. they may be aware of two pieces of information, but often not know how they are related or how that relation works in a real life situation.

Overall recommendations by the study are multi-dimensional. For example, when updating textbooks and during teacher training programmes, such  findings should be taken into account; The nature of questions in the Board Exams should change with more questions that test learning with understanding; Teacher education should also be understanding focus rather than rote-focused; Boards should start awarding learners a percentile score in every paper; India should participate in international benchmarking assessments like the TIMSS which test learners on how well they can apply the learnt competencies/concepts.

The issue related to textbook raised by Educational Initiatives above is an important one as the textbook is usually regarded by educators throughout the world as a good source of information for teaching. (Abimbola & Baba, 1996) stated that American biology teachers rely solely on textbooks for use in their instruction. According to them, “Nearly 90% of teachers use a textbook 90% of the time”. In India too, science teachers seem to rely solely on textbooks for the appropriate content materials that satisfy the requirements of the science syllabi and the national curricula in the different science subjects. Infrastructural constraints indicate that textbooks are perhaps the only learning materials available and used in most Indian schools.

The issue of textbooks in the context of present study becomes more relevant when we look at the findings of (Deshmukh & Deshmukh, 2009). Findings indicate that many learners and textbook writers have Alternative Frameworks about various biological concepts. These Alternative Frameworks have been found to be generally based on social practices and school experiences but also may have come from the textbooks. The study contents that the illustrations given in the textbook can play a significant role in the learning process as they can facilitate the understanding of the scientific content. Therefore, they should be carefully chosen in order to facilitate learners’ learning and to prevent their alternative conceptions from being reinforced and/or induced by them. Also, it has been contented that many science textbook researchers, teachers and learners, are unaware of many of the Alternative Frameworks in science textbooks and the dangers such Alternative Frameworks pose to a thorough understanding of biology concepts. A point that can be highlighted from this study is that textbooks are human enterprises and should not be expected to be perfect materials.

The highlights from the study done abroad and from the Indian contexts raised issues about how and where Alternative Frameworks can develop among learners of science. Addressing them is a challenge in front of science educators.

Addressing Alternative Frameworks

Addressing Alternative Frameworks can be understood as moving from one conceptual framework to the other. This movement inherently means learning a new concept. This learning of new concept has been found to be directly affected by prior learning in the earlier sections. A brief outline of what is a concept, how it is learnt and the impact of prior learning is therefore part of our understanding of addressing Alternative Frameworks.

What is a Concept?

(Zirbel, 2006) articulates concepts as mental representations that, in their simplest form, can be expressed by a single word, such as plant or animal, alive or dead, table or chair, apple or orange. Concepts may also represent a set of ideas that can be described by a few words. More complex concepts can describe a whole idea, like for example "the theory of natural selection or the big bang model of the universe". In other words, within a particular representational structure, concepts help us make deductions and explain even more complex ideas. Concept can thus act like building blocks of more complex or even abstract representations.

Concept Learning

In objectivist epistemology (Rand, 1990), concept learning refers to a learning task in which a human or machine learner is trained to classify objects by being shown a set of example objects along with their class labels. The learner will simplify what has been observed in an example. This simplified version of what has been learned will then be applied to future examples. For instance, in learning the concept of “length", if a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have in common, but their specific lengths differ. The difference is one of measurement. In order to form the concept "length," the child's mind retains the attribute and omits its particular measurements.

(Rand, 1990) identified the multiple roles of measurements in the process of concept-formation; two essential parts: differentiation and integration has been identified as the concepts that cannot be formed at random. All concepts are formed by first differentiating two or more existents from other existents.

According to (Blunden, 2009), Concepts arise as solutions to problems. This has been explained in terms of the concept being formed with the emergence of a need that can be satisfied in the concept. What is central to this process is the functional use of the sign or word as the means through which the child masters and subordinates his own mental operations.

Role of Preconceptions\ Prior Learning\ Naive Ideas

A significant role of preconceptions in science learning is that they could channel the interpretation of subsequent teaching and affect learners’ developing conceptions. Particularly, an alternative conceptual framework often acts as an impediment to effective learning of scientific conceptions (Taber, 2003a). Therefore, the most important pedagogical knowledge a successful teacher should have is what misconception learners usually tend to have before and after teaching (Taber, 2000) Once we build the knowledge and skills, we can plan more effective lessons that help learners develop scientific ideas.

Alternative Frameworks – A challenge

(Fensham, 1994) highlighted one of the most important difficulties in addressing Alternative Frameworks. “It is not easy to change learners' schemes of understanding. Research in the learning of science for example has shown that many pupils resist changing their everyday and naive views on  how  the  natural  world works, despite being able to play back the ‘correct’ science explanations in formal tests” (Fensham, 1994). In order that these are addressed, many strategies and approaches have been suggested.

Learners’ Alternative Frameworks do not fall down unless science teaching permits constructions of reasonable and accessible other ideas. This cannot happen by means of a single operation: Learners must be conscious of their misconceptions, ideas must be confronted, learners must take on new models accessible to their minds (Strike, 1982); and finally, learners must learn to distinguish the context (macroscopic vs. microscopic) in which different conceptual schemes can be applied (diSessa, 1993).

(Omar, 2010) suggests,

“Misconceptions can be displaced and learners will accept a scientific conception if:

  • The learner understands the meaning of the scientific conception.
  • The scientific conception is believable (this means that it must be compatible with the learner's other conceptions.
  • The scientific conception is found to be useful to the learner in interpreting, explaining or predicting phenomena that cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the formerly held misconceptions (i.e. the scientific concept must be seen to be better than the learner's prior belief).
  • The learner progressively gains expertise in using the new scientific concepts (a slow process requiring a long time period and gradual building of knowledge through experience)” (Omar, 2010).

(Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007) linked mediating conceptual change with what scientists do. “Certain interventions, in particular those involving an explanation of what scientists expected to happen and why, were very effective in mediating conceptual change when encountering counterintuitive evidence. With particular scaffolds, children made observations independent of theory, and they changed their beliefs based on observed evidence” (Duschl et al., 2007). This also support the experiencing of science has discussed in earlier sections. (Taber, 2003b) reviewed many researches to support the role of metacognition of addressing alternative frameworks metaphors are needed to be specifically built for the teachers so that these are not formed. “Given time and suitable instruction, learners can often manage to develop and improve their mental models so that they bring them closer to the curriculum targets. However, this can be a slow process” (Taber, 2003b).

Metaphors for addressing alternative frameworks can be built up. But teachers need to be specifically cautious in using these metaphors so that the formation of alternative frameworks is avoided to the maximum extent possible. “The main reason for this is that microscopic world of chemistry is difficult for them to experience, and thus chemistry teachers use a lot of analogies and metaphors to explain chemistry concepts. Therefore, it is particularly important for chemistry teachers to know how to avoid our teaching from being misinterpreted and leading to common misconceptions”.

Conclusions

From the analysis of concept specific researches it has emerged that the formation of abstract models is a key factor in the formation of Alternative Frameworks. In this context, the language used by the teacher, providing space for multiple interpretations by the learners, engaging learners in a metacognitive manner to reflect on their own learning, encouraging learners to generate, explain and put forth their arguments and models become important considerations. These aspects also play an important role while addressing the Alternative Frameworks.

The teacher plays an important role in addressing these Alternative Frameworks. For this, the teacher should be able to locate the Alternative Frameworks amongst learners, focus on individual explorations by them and try to analyse learner’s reactions and responses. A classroom environment for addressing the Alternative Frameworks will constitute the need to test the concepts of the learners, modify the language as per learners’ needs and contextualising the teaching-learning process and the pedagogical environment as per their needs.

The systemic pressure of reproducing the expected answers forces the learner into rote memorisation. Language used to explain scientific concepts is an effective tool in the reproduction of the bookish explanations and examples of these concepts. In order to locate the possible sites of Alternative Frameworks amongst learners we need to find ways so that the memorised responses may be avoided and a free and open ended option to express the understanding is available to the learner. One such possibility is to analyse the pictures and diagrams made by them openly along with the keywords that they associate with those diagrams and pictures related to a science concept.

References

  • Abimbola, I. O., & Baba, S. (1996). Misconceptions & alternative conceptions in science textbooks: The role of teachers as filters. The American Biology Teacher. JSTOR.
  • Blunden, A. (2009). When is a concept really a concept? Retrieved from http://home.mira.net/~andy/works/concept-really-concept.htm
  • Deshmukh, N. D., & Deshmukh, V. M. (2009). A study of students’ misconceptions in biology at the secondary school level. Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Hands on Science.
  • diSessa, A. A. (1993). Toward an Epistemology of Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 10(2), 105–225. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci1002&3_2
  • Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A., & Shouse, A. W. (2007). Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. (R. A. Duschl, H. A. Schweingruber, & A. W. Shouse, Eds.)Taking Science to School. Washington, D.C.: THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS.
  • . Retrieved from http://www.ei-india.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Student-Learning-in-the-Metros-Issue-2.pdf
  • Fensham, P. (1994). The content of science. London: The Falmer Press.
  • (1), 51–64. Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/content/vol31.1/kubicek.html
  • (p. 43). Besut, Terengganu: Teacher Education Institute Campus, Sultan Mizan Ministry of Education Malasia. Retrieved from http://azman.ipgmksm.edu.my/sce3102/modulcsl.pdf
  • Rand, A. (1990). Introduction to objectivist epistemology. (H. B. Leonard Peikoff, Ed.). New York: New American Library.
  • Stepans, J. (1994). Targeting students’ science misconceptions: Physical Science activities using the conceptual change model. Idea Factory, Incorporated.
  • Strike, K. A. (1982). Conceptual change and science teaching. European Journal of Science Education, 4, 231–240.
  • Taber, K. S. (2000). Multiple frameworks?: Evidence of manifold conceptions in individual cognitive structure. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 399–418.
  • Taber, K. S. (2003a). Mediating mental models of metals: Acknowledging the priority of the learner’s prior learning. Science Education, 87, 732–758.
  • Taber, K. S. (2003b). Responding to alternative conceptions in the classroom. School Science Review, 84(2), 99–108.
  • Zirbel, E. L. (2006). Teaching to promote deep understanding and instigate conceptual change. In Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society (Vol. 38, p. 1220).

 

 

Developing Learners’ Ideas and Conclusions VS. Supplying their own! What Does Educator's Intense Disposition Suggest in Classroom Contexts?

Developing Learners’ Ideas and Conclusions VS. Supplying their own! What Does Educator's Intense Disposition Suggest in Classroom Contexts?

Rakesh Kumar

Assistant Professor

MV COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,

University of Delhi.

Abstract

In teaching-learning science, developing viable models, theories and principles by conducting experiments and activities had been advocated for quite a long time. Arriving at the principles, theories and laws governing the natural and physical world, by the learners of science, that had been focussed by NCF (2005) too, is not possible if teachers’ force their own conclusions and ideas on learners. The current position of teaching-learning of science on the creation and importance of Alternative Frameworks among learners in science advocates that an educator's intense disposition towards supplying their own ideas may be problematic. The present study comprising feedback on 592 science lessons from 30 pre-service teachers studies their natural dispositions towards withholding own ideas and conclusions effectively among learners in science. The teachers agree that they ‘Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively’ in their average dispositions. Further, analyses of these dispositions show that the range shows an extremely high difference between minimum and maximum value. The mean means most of teachers agree that they withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively. Skewness which is negative means the numbers of high scorers are more than the number of low scorers. Kurtosis shows that the distribution is leptokurtic.

Key Words: Learners’ ideas, teachers’ ideas and conclusions, alternative frameworks, pre-service teachers 

 

 

 


Introduction:

“One important human response to the wonder and awe of nature from the earliest times has been to observe the physical and biological environment carefully, look for any meaningful patterns and relations, make and use new tools to interact with nature, and build conceptual models to understand the world. This human endeavour has led to modern science. Broadly speaking, the scientific method involves several interconnected steps: observation, looking for regularities and patterns, making hypotheses, devising qualitative or mathematical models, deducing their consequences, verification or falsification of theories through observations and controlled experiments, thus arriving at the principles, theories and laws governing the natural world. The laws of science are never viewed as fixed eternal truths. Even the most established and universal laws of science are always regarded as provisional, subject to modification in the light of new observations, experiments and analyses” (National Council of Educational Research and Training, 2005).

Though reasoning behind the easy ideas that children make, may not be as complex as a scientific attitude behind the observer cannot be challenged. “Some call these early ideas that children form as Alternative Frameworks; others label them naive conceptions, or alternative conceptions. Alternative Frameworks might also be referred to as preconceived notions, non-scientific beliefs, naive theories, mixed conceptions, or conceptual misunderstandings. Basically, in science these are cases in which something a person knows and believes does not match what is known to be scientifically correct. These terms identifying similar mismatches are used interchangeably in this study and are referred to as Alternative Frameworks” (Worth, 1999).

Need and Significance:

Alternative Frameworks have many serious concerns attached with their presence and something especially concerning about them is that we, at all stages of our development, continue to build further knowledge on our current understandings. This development of learning would be seriously impacted if there are Alternative Frameworks at their core (Black, 2006). [...] 22 of the 25 Harvard University faculty and graduating learners they interviewed -- including some with science majors -- had reverted to their childhood notions of the universe”.

Karen Worth argues that “a child is not going to give up his theory made by so much effort and observations just because an adult disapproves it or a single event challenges it. Children do not want to give up the concepts and theories they work so hard to make. They take their experiences and struggle to come up with understandings that work in their daily lives. They are not about to drop their ideas just because someone says so, or because an event disproves what they have come to believe. As anyone familiar with the history of science can attest, even adults have trouble changing theories that are well grounded in experience. If a child's theory works, if it has been productive and the child has worked hard to build that theory, he/she will not give it up unless he/she has a lot of new experiences that provide reasons to do so” (Worth, 1999).

Amongst  various challenges in science education at present, those involve utilizing prior experiences and deep-rooted notions about physical and natural world of the learners in the teaching-learning processes, designing meaningful science learning experiences for them, providing efficient models to the learners to build their science concepts on, engaging the learner in fascinating, inspiring, and effective approaches, imbibing our understanding of nature of science in educational practices etc. Addressing the alternative frameworks of learners involves almost all of those challenges. For this to happen, learners own ideas and conclusions need to be exposed to himself/herself, and, if appropriate to the peer group and teacher so that deliberations may be planned accordingly.

The first role of teacher may be identified here in this context is to test the presence of learners’ ideas that remain unexplored and are prone to be ignored in the formal tests and examinations. For this to happen, they should be able to withhold their own ideas and conclusions effectively and give their learners appropriate opportunities to express themselves. This study explores the pre service teachers’ self-assessment related to their classroom practices in terms of ‘Withholding own ideas and conclusions effectively’ amongst the learners in science. No a-priori hypothesis has been created. Instead, their own self-assessment on the question had been analysed in terms of what emerged out of regular settings of science classrooms.

Research Methodology

Research Questions and Objective

The following question is the focus:

How do science teachers perceive their natural disposition towards testing ‘Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively’ as a part of the teaching-learning process?

The study has focused on the following objective:

“Exploring teaching learning contexts in science classrooms, with special reference to testing ‘Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively ’as a part of the teaching-learning process”

Methodology, sample and tools:

Methodology:

Based on understanding developed from the review of related literature and researcher’s own experience as science teacher/teacher educator, a comprehensive tool was developed by the researcher. This tool related to different issues related to different areas of the teaching-learning processes in science.

This tool was used on 38 pre-service teachers. Data from 30 pre-service science teachers was collected in the form of self-assessment feedback regarding 592 Science lessons transacted by them during their school life experience program. 8 Pre-service teachers became non-responding. The teachers were asked to rate themselves on the basis of self-assessment after each lesson. This feedback on 592 lessons from the teachers is received, analysed and reported. The feedback is quantified, described and analysed in terms of science teachers approach towards forming and addressing Alternative Frameworks during the science classes with special reference to posing interpretative questions to the learners in science.

These 38 Pre-Service science teachers who are the B.Ed. students of the two of Education in Delhi, India) were chosen as samples for the study. Most of the observations, interpretations, analysis and reflections done by the participants were discussed with them also to develop their insight about their own science classrooms.

All types of schools were allotted to these science teachers during their school life experience program. Training of teachers was done for both data collection (one day) and analysis (three days). In addition, two days were devoted for reflection and discussion on resolution of the problems faced during the process.

Sample

Total 38 Pre-Service Science teachers participated from two B.Ed. colleges of University of Delhi and GGSIP University, Delhi. This “ensured participation of total 18 schools in which above Pre-Service teachers had their School Life Experience Program. These teachers had diverse graduation and post-graduation subjects.

 

Figure 1 - Classification of teachers’ sample

Figure 2 - Classification of School sample

Notations: G- Government; P- Private; G.A.-Government Aided; K.V.-KendriyaVidyalaya

Out of total 38 Pre-Service teachers, code numbers 1.01 to code number 1.30 were given to 30 Pre-service teachers from Guru Ram Dass College of Education and 8 Pre-Service teachers from Maharishi Valmiki College of Education received code numbers 2.01 to code number 2.08. Clearly, the sample is not a random sample but a purposive one. Although no deliberate attempt was made for the sample to be homogeneous or representative, it got addressed in the process to some extent. The science teachers belonged to different socio-economic backgrounds. The science learners’ belonged to different sorts of school settings. These types of schools included all boys’ school, all girls’ schools, government, government aided and public schools. Therefore, we can say that different socio-economic backgrounds and diversity in teaching-learning settings has been represented largely in the sample.

Tools for data collection

In the review of the available tools, it was identified that these tools cannot be used in order to collect required data for the present study or in other words, suitable tools for getting the relevant data could not be located. Thus, in order to explore teaching learning contexts in science classrooms with respect to possible sites of formation of Alternative Frameworks among learners in science, a tool was needed. Self-assessment feedback schedule in the form of self-appraisal developed by the researcher for Science teachers was thus prepared for data collection. This self-appraisal had both open ended and close-ended questions, questions that can be analysed in quantitative and qualitative ways. The major themes of the questionnaire include exploration about the resources that the learners tend to tap, their preferred learning styles, possible sites of Alternative Frameworks, their notion about themselves as science learners etc.

To validate the tools, the First draft of tools was given to experts namely school teachers, and colleagues in teacher education institutions, and ambiguous language and other issues resolved and the items modified subsequently.

Analysis of Data

Self-assessment feedback Schedule, contained 26 items originally, had the option of responding in terms of strongly agree, agree and disagree. In order to understand this data, these three categories were given the weight two, one and zero respectively. Thus from one day feedback of a particular science teacher there were responses in the form of zero, one and two. For one particular science teacher, these responses were collected on Microsoft Excel sheet for the period of entire school life experience program. From this, average score of one particular teacher on each item is calculated. Similarly, this process was repeated for the 30 teachers who responded to this self-appraisal. These average scores of 30 teachers were then entered in another Excel sheet to be analysed for their responses on the selected item. Various descriptive of the item is calculated and reported. Graphs were plotted to show the average per day score of the 30 science teachers. These were further analysed and reported in terms of graphs showing histogram and probability curve for giving pictorial idea of the responses of the learners (Figure 1 and Figure 2). The descriptive that have been calculated are Min., Max., Range, Mean, Std. Deviation, Skewness, and Kurtosis.

Findings

Table 1 shows the average scores of different teachers on the feedback schedule correlated to the Symbol "'Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively'" of the teaching-learning context in position of Teachers' Self-Assessment. The evaluation, interpretation and proper graphical descriptions had been given in the following discussions using the data from the Table 1. Table 2 describes the properties of unclear variables in the above table.

 

 

Table 1 - Individual average score of different respondents on the item: Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively

 

 

Table 2 - Properties of undefined variables in the Table 1

 

 

 

Figure 3 - Individual average score of different respondents on the item ‘Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively’

 

 

Figure  4  -  Grouped  average  score  of  different  respondents  on  the  item ‘Withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively’

At a glance:

 

Mean: 1.2106

 

Standard Deviation: .36769

 

Range of 1 Standard Deviation: (.84 - 1.58)

 

Skewness: -.651

 

Kurtosis: 2.170

Analysis and Interpretation:

The range is 1.85 for which minimum value is .10 and maximum value is 1.95. It shows an extremely high difference between minimum and maximum value. The mean is 1.2106 which means most of teachers agree that they withheld own ideas and conclusions effectively and it can also be seen in the graph. Standard deviation is .36769 which indicates that most of the teachers scored between 0.84 and 1.58. Skewness is -.651 which is negatively skewed i.e. the numbers of high scorers are more than the number of low scorers. We can also see in the graph that the left tail is longer than the right one which indicates negative Skewness. Kurtosis is 2.170 with standard error .833 which shows that the distribution is leptokurtic.

Conclusion:

There is diversity and range in the pre-service science teachers’ natural dispositions towards ‘Withholding own ideas and conclusions effectively’ among learners in science. This range and diversity means that arriving at the principles, theories and laws governing the natural and physical world, by the learners of science is being taken up by different teachers in different ways. This contradicts pre-service science teachers’ preparedness towards conducting teaching-learning processes in science in accordance with facilitating learners in developing viable models, theories and principles by conducting experiments and activities. This means teachers are also not adequately prepared to taking the first step in addressing alternative frameworks among learners in science. Study concludes that the science teachers need to be prepared to take up teaching-learning of science so that the creation and importance of Alternative Frameworks among learners in science is not impacted by educator's intense disposition towards supplying their own ideas.

References

 

 

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