- The primary purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of two laboratory approaches in a general education physical science course. The two approaches were: (1) the experimental method called the contemporary topics approach and (2) the control method called the standard topics approach. The determination of effectiveness was based on achievement of science facts and principles of physical science, understanding the nature of science, and scientific attitude. The criterion instruments were an investigator-constructed subject content test, the Science Process Inventory (SPI), Form D, developed by Wayne Welch, and the Science Attitude Inventory (SAI) developed by Richard Moore.
The experiment was conducted at Kutztown State College, Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The treatments were piloted during the Spring and Fall semesters of 1977. The initial and principal experimental trial was conducted during the Spring semester of 1978. A second trial was conducted during the Fall of 1978 and Spring of 1979 semesters. Eighty-six students enrolled in Physics 010 during the Spring of 1978 comprised the principal experimental sample group. Forty-one students were assigned the control treatment standard topics approach. Forty-five students were assigned the experimental contemporary topics approach. The investigator taught the common lecture but was not involved in the treatment laboratory approaches.
All three criterion instruments were administered at the beginning of the term and again at the end of the treatment period. Analysis of covariance was used to ascertain whether significant differences had occurred from pretests to posttests between the control and experimental groups. A student perception questionnaire was applied to monitor whether the treatments were applied as prescribed.
The statistical analysis showed that the .01 level of significance: (1) there is no significant difference in the achievement of facts and principles of physical science as measured by the investigator-constructed subject content test between the standard topics and the contemporary topics approaches; (2) there is no significant difference in the understanding of the nature of science as measured by the SPI between the standard topics and the contemporary topics approaches; and (3) there is no significant difference in the scientific attitude as measured by the SAI between the standard topics and the contemporary topics approaches.
The results were the same during both the initial experimental trial and a subsequent trial. However, the investigator found a significant difference in the results of the treatment monitoring questionnaire between the two trials. During the initial trial the monitoring results indicated compliance with prescribed treatments. During the subsequent trial the monitoring results indicated that two laboratory sections were not treated as prescribed.
Several conclusions were drawn from the findings of this study. Students achieve equally well in learning the facts and principles of the subject content, understanding the nature of science, and scientific attitude from both the contemporary topics and standard topics laboratory approaches within an eight-week or fifteen-week treatment period. This conclusion implies that other criteria such as cost and student or faculty interest should be used to decide between the two approaches. Also it is implied that the limited effect of the laboratory period may not be sufficient to provide measurable differences in the criterion variables. This study was very concerned with the monitoring of the treatments and the results indicated that treatment monitoring can be achieved by a simple external instrument.
- Dissertation Note:
- D.ED. The Pennsylvania State University 1980.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 41-09, Section: A, page: 3911.
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