How Do U.S. and Chinese Biology Students Compare in Explaining Energy Consumption Issues?
Hui Jin, Hayat Hokayem, Sasha Wang & Xin Wei
pp. 301-318 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.247a | Article Number: ijese.2015.001
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 882 | Article Download: 730
This qualitative study investigates how biology majors explain energy consumption issues. In particular, we focus on two energy consumption activities that account for about two-thirds of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2011: burning fossil fuels for transportation and using electricity. We conducted in-depth clinical interviews with twenty U.S. students and twenty Chinese students. We compared these two groups of students in terms of two aspects of explanation: 1) naming scientific terms in the explanation, and 2) explaining an energy consumption issue. Regarding naming, we examined the frequency of naming different terms of scientific concepts and principles in students’ explanations. Regarding explaining, we developed a rubric that differentiates three levels of explaining: informal explanations that are based upon intuitive ideas (Level 1), school science explanations that are based on alternative conceptions about matter and energy (Level 2), and scientific explanations that demonstrate the scientific understanding of concepts/principles about matter and energy (Level 3). The results revealed that scientific terms appeared most frequently in scientific explanations (Level 3), but they also appeared in many school science explanations (Level 2) and in some informal explanations (Level 1). We further describe how scientific terms were used in explanations at different levels. We found although Chinese students named scientific terms more frequently and demonstrated a better performance in explaining, they still produced more informal explanations and school science explanations than scientific explanations. In general, the results suggest the importance of promoting students’ abilities to use scientific terms correctly and meaningfully in explaining real-world environmental events in both countries.
Keywords: naming, explaining, environmental literacy, energy consumption
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More than Just Playing Outside: A Self-Study on Finding My Identity as an Environmental Educator in Science Education
Jenna M. Gatzke, Gayle A. Buck & Valarie L. Akerson
pp. 319-335 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.248a | Article Number: ijese.2015.002
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 924 | Article Download: 595
The purpose of this study was to investigate the identity conflicts I was experiencing as an environmental educator entering a doctoral program in science education. My inquiry used self-study methodology with a variety of data sources, including sixteen weeks’ of personal journal entries, audio-recordings of four critical friend meetings, and three instructor evaluations completed by my students. Findings from this study show a progression of thoughts, emotions, and questions that came out of my comparisons of environmental education and science education, formal, and informal education, as well as three critical instances that led to an understanding of my own professional identity. Overarching connections were found within pedagogical practices. Implications regarding the need for life-long teacher reflection as well as suggestions for ways to build bridges across differing educational fields are discussed.
Keywords: self-study, identity, environmental education, science education, critical instances, pedagogy
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Student’s Interest in Science and Technology and its Relationships with Teaching Methods, Family Context and Self-Efficacy
Abdelkrim Hasni & Patrice Potvin
pp. 337-366 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.249a | Article Number: ijese.2015.003
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 1935 | Article Download: 942
In order to explore students’ interest towards S&T, we developed and validated a questionnaire that simultaneously takes into account 18 components (general interest in school-S&T, utility of school-S&T, teaching methods preferences, perceived importance and preference for school-S&T with respect to other school subjects, etc.). The questionnaire was administered to 1,882 students from grades 5 through 11 (seven grade levels). Findings indicate that: a) students show a high general interest in S&T and a preference for student-centred teaching methods rather than teacher-centred ones; however, few of them perceive the utility of school-S&T for everyday life, want to spend more time doing S&T in school or intend to pursue S&T related studies or careers. Grade level differences appear to be important while gender differences are weak; b) in terms of school subjects, perceived importance and preference order, S&T seem to occupy an intermediate position; the preference order is not, however, similar to the perceived importance order. The latter, and therefore the role of S&T in school, appear to be strongly influenced by its status or its social value given in the curriculum; c) the analysis based on correlations and regressions propose some important predictors of general interest towards S&T. The results highlight, among other things, the importance for school to intervene on certain factors that promote the development of students’ interest in S&T. For instance, 1) to affirm the importance of S&T right from the beginning of elementary school, 2) to use teaching methods that allow students to establish links between what they learn in school and their lives, as well as methods centered on students’ development of inquiry processes, 3) to promote cultural activities related to S&T, and 4) to promote a positive development of self-concept through quality schooling.
Keywords: interest, science and technology, school subjects
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The Effect of Reflective Science Journal Writing on Students’ Self-Regulated Learning Strategies
Nawar M. Al-Rawahi & Sulaiman M. Al-Balushi
pp. 367-379 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.250a | Article Number: ijese.2015.004
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 1461 | Article Download: 936
The current study investigates the effectiveness of grade-ten students’ reflective science journal writing on their self-regulated learning strategies. We used a pre-post control group quasi-experimental design. The sample consisted of 62 tenth-grade students (15 years old) in Oman, comprising 32 students in the experimental group and 30 students in the control group. Both groups studied a science text unit called ‘Matter and Energy in Chemical Reactions’. Students in the experimental group were given a model for a journal, which they wrote after they finished their science lessons. They reflected on their dialogues with their teacher and classmates. They also reflected on their scientific observations, their main conclusions, their evaluation of their level of understanding of the scientific concepts presented in the lesson, their achievement of the lesson goals, and their personal feelings regarding what was taught in the lesson. The control group studied the same unit without writing reflective journals. We used a modified self-regulation strategy instrument to measure the effectiveness of treatment. The results showed that participants in the journal-writing group (experimental group) (M=3.96; SD=0.37) significantly outperformed participants in the control group (M=3.62; SD=0.28) with respect to their self-regulation strategies. The study recommends that reflective journal-writing should be encouraged by science teachers and in science textbooks.
Keywords: reflective journal writing, science learning, self-reflection, self-regulation strategies
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Farm Education and the Value of Learning in an Authentic Learning Environment
Pia Smeds, Eila Jeronen & Sirpa Kurppa
pp. 381-404 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.251a | Article Number: ijese.2015.005
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 991 | Article Download: 603
Farm education is a newly emerging field of research that utilises authentic learning environments, environments that combine a subject of academic study with its real-world surroundings, actors, and activities – in this case, the practical context of a farm. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of various learning environments (farm, classroom, and synthesis of the two) on learning and how pupils experience it. Mixed-methods research with experiential interventions was used, and data collection used interviews and pre-learning, post-learning, and delayed tests. The analysis, performed with SPSS software, employed ANOVA and ANOVA repeated-measures design and inductive content analysis. Pupils showed significantly better learning results when allowed to study in authentic learning environments on farm. They experienced learning in an authentic learning environment as easier and found that they learnt more there than in the classroom. They concluded that the reason for this was that the subject to be learnt could be studied comprehensively and first-hand in its original surroundings, including processes. Farm education proved to be a versatile learning environment that encourage learning and support learners who differ in their learning preferences. It supports pupils with moderate learning difficulties, as well as talented pupils, thanks to being allowed to study many aspects of the subject for learning, at their own pace. Including authentic learning environments in education increases long-term retention of what has been learnt and improves understanding. Those involved in teacher education, teachers, and schools alike are urged to take this into account when planning and carrying out education.
Keywords: farm education, mixed methods, intervention, learning environment, context-based learning
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Multifaceted NOS Instruction: Contextualizing Nature of Science with Documentary Films
Mark Bloom, Ian C. Binns & Catherine Koehler
pp. 405-428 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.252a | Article Number: ijese.2015.006
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 882 | Article Download: 604
This research focuses on inservice science teachers’ conceptions of nature of science (NOS) before and after a two-week intensive summer professional development (PD). The PD combined traditional explicit NOS instruction, numerous interactive interventions that highlighted NOS aspects, along with documentary films that portrayed NOS in context of authentic scientific discovery. Reflective dialogue was used throughout the professional development to encourage constructivist learning. The PD addressed seven commonly held NOS tenets that are deemed significant to K-12 science teachers. Finally, qualitative methodologies were used to analyze the Views of Nature of Science Questionnaire (VNOS-D) and the associated interview data to explore subtleties within each NOS tenet and to gain a richer understanding of how the teachers’ NOS understanding differed before and after the PD.
Keywords: nature of science, professional development, contextualized instruction
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Reading Engagement in Science: Elementary Students’ Read-Aloud Experiences
Alandeom W. Oliveira
pp. 429-451 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.253a | Article Number: ijese.2015.008
Published Online: May 11, 2015
Article Views: 924 | Article Download: 627
This study examines student reading engagement with children’s science books in elementary classrooms. Reading engagement in science is conceived in terms of a Transmission—Transaction continuum. When centered on transmission, science reading entails passive reception of a textually encoded scientific message. By contrast, when science reading is transaction-centered, teachers and students actively engage in the negotiation of scientific meanings that transcend the text itself. Examination of reading engagement relied on a discourse-centered method whose analytical goal was to uncover and better understand meaning-making around textual artifacts. More specifically, it took the form of a discourse analysis across three science read-alouds. While meaning-making in one aloud reading was predominantly centered on transmission, the other two read-alouds were characterized by increasing levels of transaction. Further, adoption of transmissive or transactional strategies was consistent with how teachers perceived reading in the context of science instruction. This study underscores the multiplicity of ways that reading can be conceived by science teachers and approached in elementary classroom settings. It is suggested that a more sophisticated understanding of how to systematically engage young students with science texts can help elementary teachers effectively integrate reading with science instruction, meet literacy requirements of current science education policies, and recognize that science reading transcends passive reception of facts.
Keywords: science reading, elementary science, text discussion, science read-alouds
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Identity Development of Youth during Participation at an Informal Science Education Camp
pp. 453-475 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.254a | Article Number: ijese.2015.007
Published Online: May 10, 2015
Article Views: 941 | Article Download: 648
In this exploratory case study, I investigated the ways that youth engaged in negotiating their identity during learning conversations at an informal science education camp. In particular, I was interested in exploring the ways that youth positioned themselves within their learning group and how this influenced their identities as learners of science. The research question that guided the investigation was: What is the role of learning conversations in influencing youths’ identities as learners of science during an informal science education camp? In particular, I was interested in elucidating the ways in which youth socially constructed their identities relative to others in their learning group and how the social context shaped this process. Identity in this study was defined as the socially constructed sense of self derived from one’s position relative to others in a social group. Data collection included videotaped observations, field notes, interviews and journal entries. Findings from my analysis and interpretation of the data collected suggested that identity developed in the following ways: (a) members of the learning group derived their sense of self and identity from their perceived position relative to others and (b) power dynamics and social roles within the learning group were negotiated and redefined within the specific affordances and norms of the informal science education camp context. These findings lend support to the assertion that identity develops during learning conversations in informal science education settings and adds to the corpus of research in this area.
Keywords: informal science education, out-of-school learning, environmental education, science camps, identity development, learning conversations
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Association of the Environmental Attitudes “Preservation” and “Utilization” with Pro-Animal Attitudes
Janine Binngießer & Christoph Randler
pp. 477-492 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.255a | Article Number: ijese.2015.009
Published Online: May 14, 2015
Article Views: 969 | Article Download: 738
The relevance of environmental attitudes is obvious and attitudes towards farm and companion animals and animal welfare in medical research are an important aspect of education. However, both have rarely been linked with each other, and animal attitudes are only sparsely represented within environmental education assessment instruments. Linking these two aspects was the main aim of the present study. The Animal Attitude Scale (AAS), the Intermediate Attitude Scale (IAS), and environmental attitudes based on the 2-MEV-model were used. The 2-MEV model is made of two distinct aspects: preservation and utilization of nature. This relationship between pro-animal attitudes and preservation and utilization has been assessed while controlling for pet ownership, meat consumption, gender and grade level. These covariates are necessary because they have been identified in previous research. Five hundred and forty-three pupils from two different schools in Leipzig, Germany participated in this study. There was a significant influence of gender and grade but not of pet ownership on environmental attitudes. Girls showed higher positive attitudes, and preservation decreased with an increasing grade. Animal attitudes (both AAS and IAS) correlated with > 0.4 with the two environmental attitudes preservation and utilization. It is therefore concluded that environmental attitudes and animal attitudes are closely related constructs.
Keywords: adolescents, attitudes towards animals, environmental attitudes, preservation, utilization
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How Students’ Values are Intertwined with Decisions in a Socio-scientific Issue
Demetra Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, Andreas Ch. Hadjichambis & Konstantinos Korfiatis
pp. 493-513 | DOI: 10.12973/ijese.2015.256a | Article Number: ijese.2015.010
Published Online: May 16, 2015
Article Views: 979 | Article Download: 571
The present study incorporated a scaffolding decision making procedure on an authentic environmental socio-scientific issue and investigated how students’ decisions are intertwined with their values. Computer-based activities provided necessary information and allowed for the consideration of multiple aspects of the issue, the study of the effects of every possible solution and the formulation and balancing of criteria. The optimization strategy for decision making was adopted. Data collection relied on 51 sixth grade students (11-12 years old). Open-ended written tests were given to students before and after the learning intervention with two tasks: application of the optimization strategy and a meta-reflection question explaining their decision. Children incorporated several criteria in the decision making process, however, what guided their decisions were the criteria which were given the greater weight. These criteria were connected with substantive arguments and were based on decisive values. Three value-driven patterns of decision makers were revealed: strong anthropocentric, weak anthropocentric and ecocentric. The ability of assigning weight in conflicting criteria is a cornerstone for the emersion of how values are interrelated with decisions. Values arise when preferences are in conflict and decisions are made by weighting alternatives in comparison to our preferences. In conclusion, students have to learn to develop solutions that represent a compromise between economic, ecological, and socioeconomic dimensions, which include establishing a value hierarchy. The ability to weight decision criteria and to disclose underlying value considerations may be an elaborate way to work with multifaceted socio-scientific issues.
Keywords: sustainability, decision making, optimization method, environmental values
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