Science Teachers Attitudes towards Aims of the Science Experiments

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1 Yıldız, Akpınar, Aydoğdu & Ergin / TÜFED-TUSED / 3(2) TÜRK FEN EĞİTİMİ DERGİSİ Yıl 3, Sayı 2, Aralık 2006 Journal of TURKISH SCIENCE EDUCATION Volume 3, Issue 2, December Science Teachers Attitudes towards Aims of the Science Experiments Eylem YILDIZ 1, Ercan AKPINAR 2, Bülent AYDOĞDU 1, Ömer ERGİN 3 1 Res. Asst., Dokuz Eylül University, Buca Faculty of Education, Dep. of Primary Education, İzmir 2 Dr., Dokuz Eylül University, Buca Faculty of Education, Dep. of Primary Education, İzmir 3 Prof. Dr., Dokuz Eylül University, Buca Faculty of Education, Dep. of Primary Education, İzmir Received: Revised: Accepted: The original language of article is Turkish (v.3, n.2, December 2006, pp.2-18) SYNOPSIS The Purpose and Significance of the Study Science experiments are inseparable and indispensable parts of learning experiences. The experiments provide both acquiring science concepts and learning scientific method for learning experiences. Thus, various studies have been carried out to specify the science teachers professional knowledge, attitudes towards aims of science experiments (West, 1972; Lynch & Ndyetabura, 1983; Gayford, 1988; Swain, Monk & Johnson, 1999; Johnstone & Al-Shuali, 2001; Kocakülah & Kocakülah, 2001). In the related literature, it was observed in Turkey that there are no any instrumental tools to measure the purpose stated above. It is assumed that this study will also fulfill this gap in science education in Turkey. The current study aims to determine science teachers attitudes towards aims of science experiments and also to find out the variables that affect their attitudes. Methodology The study resides in a general survey model (Karasar, 1999). In 45 (14%) schools, 87 science teachers were assigned by random sampling for the study. To perform the aim of the study, two types of data collection were used. Demographic information including gender, years of teaching experiences, major field of high school, educational level, availability of science lab, the equipment in the lab, and the frequency usage of lab. And a Likert type scale with five statements and 40 items was employed to measure the science teachers attitudes toward aims of science experiments. The reliability of scale was found to be (Cronbach α).96. In data analysis, SPSS 11. for Windows was used and arithmetic mean, standard deviation, descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, an one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were processed.

2 Yıldız, Akpınar, Aydoğdu & Ergin / TÜFED-TUSED / 3(2) Findings The teachers stated that the most important two aims of science experiments were as follows; (1) to help develop students observational skills and (2) to ease learning, since doing experiments meets the students all senses. The teachers consider experiments to improve students manipulative and cognitive skills and to develop sense of cooperative skills among students as the other important ones. The items related to building up scientific curiosity and helping them gain the sense of possession of lab considered by teachers to be the least important items when compared with other items in the scale. Science teachers attitudes towards aims of science experiments were not found to be significant in terms of gender issue. However, the means of females seemed relatively higher than those of males. Teachers attitudes were measured in terms of years of their teaching experiences and it was recorded that the teachers whose experiences are between 1 5 years have the highest means. Moreover, in the analysis of variance (ANOVA) results, there was a significant difference among the years of their teaching experiences towards attitudes (F (4 82) =2.71, p<.05). The results related to high school s major branches indicate that teachers graduated from biology branch have the highest means, alternately after biology, science, chemistry; physics branches were identified to have the highest means. ANOVA results showed there is no significant difference in terms of the teacher s branches of high school toward the aims of science experiments. When it was examined the teachers attitude towards the aims of science experiments according to the teachers education levels, with four-year faculty education showed the highest attitudes, however ANOVA results did not indicate to significant difference in terms of their educational level toward the aims of science experiments. The teachers who have science labs in their schools showed the highest attitude means. Furthermore, there was a significant difference between the teachers who have science labs and those who have not. It can be deduced from this findings that availability of lab in schools affects teachers attitudes towards the aims of science experiments in a positive way. The teachers who find their labs well-equipped showed a significant difference in comparing with those whose labs are inadequate. Based on the findings, it can be concluded that the availability of well-equipped science lab affects teachers attitudes towards aims of science experiments positively. Discussion Taking the means of all items in the scale into consideration, it was found that two items in scale have highest scores. These were; (1) science experiments develop students observational skills, and (2) doing experiments meet students all senses since it eases learning for them. In the related studies, the highest ranked position was given to encourage accurate observation and description by science teachers (Lynch & Ndyetabura, 1983; Gayford, 1988; Swain, Monk & Johnson, 1999; Kocakülah & Kocakülah, 2001). The results of the related studies are in line with the findings of the current study in relation to the first item (science experiments develop students observational skills). All these studies have reported that science teachers thought that the most important aim of science experiments is to develop students observational skills. Science teachers attitudes towards the aims of science experiments were not found to be significant in terms of gender issue. However, the means of females seemed to be relatively higher than those of males. The same result was found in the study on to what

3 Yıldız, Akpınar, Aydoğdu & Ergin / TÜFED-TUSED / 3(2) extent computer assisted instruction was used in chemistry teaching (Tezcan & Günay, 2003). When the teachers attitudes were measured in terms of years of their teaching experiences, there was a significant difference between the teachers whose experiences are between 1 5 years and those whose experiences are 6-10 years in favor of the teachers whose experiences are between 1-5 years. The teaching perspective of a beginning teacher developed and strongly held at the beginning of the year (Zeichner, Tabachnick & Densmore, 1987). However, according to the study carried out by Çepni (1993), 1-3 year teachers opinions of laboratory using were affected in a negative way due to the experienced teachers opinions of that laboratory using is waste of time (cited in Çepni, Akdeniz & Ayas, 1995). When it was examined the teachers attitudes towards the aims of science experiments according to their branches of high school (science education and different fields: physics, chemistry and biology education), the results showed that there was no significant difference in terms of the teacher s branches of high school. However, teachers graduated from biology branch have higher mean than other (science, chemistry and physics branches). Taking this results into consideration, it can be said that the science teacher graduated from biology branch have more positive attitudes towards the aims of science experiments. There was a significant difference between the teachers who have science labs and those who have not. The teachers who find their labs well-equipped showed a significant difference in comparing with those whose labs are inadequate. Having no science labs or inadequate equipment in science labs in schools affect teachers attitudes towards the aims of science experiments in a negative way. This finding is consisted with the opinions of various researchers in the related literature (Monk, Fairbrother & Dillon, 1993; Thair & Treagust, 1996; Kocakülah & Kocakülah, 2001; Landolfi, 2002; Tsai, 2003). The teachers opinions related to the non-existence of labs and inadequate equipment in lab may diverge the teachers from the idea of doing simple experiments even under the current skimpy circumstances (Ergin, Pekmez & Erdal, 2005). Thus, the teachers may tend towards an idea that only when there is a well-equipped lab they can perform science experiments and reach their goals. It was recorded that there was no significant difference between the teachers opinions towards the aim of science experiments and their frequent use of lab. But when the frequent usage of science lab examined, it was found that 53% of the teachers sometimes, and 36% of them always, and 9% of them rarely use lab. In the current study, 54 (66.6%) of teachers declaring they have science lab in school stated that they have no adequate equipped-lab. A study realized by Gürdal (1991a) showed that the use of lab in primary science education increases when the socio-economic level goes up. Since the teachers assigning their schools as inadequate in terms of lab could not find any occasions to use the lab their means may have not showed a significant difference. Suggestions The further studies which will be carried out on identifying science teachers opinions and attitudes towards aims of science experiments can be obtained through structured-interviews both with teachers and students, and observation during plasticizing experiments and analyzing worksheets and reports of students for more detail findings. The further studies should be conducted on this conception and this will shed light on the issue in details.

4 Yıldız, Akpınar, Aydoğdu & Ergin / TÜFED-TUSED / 3(2) Various studies results showed that females attitudes towards aims of science experiments and science lab were higher than those of males (Ekici, 2002; Tezcan & Günay, 2003), the reasons of this finding should be examined. It is thought that teachers epistemological beliefs of teachers play an effective role on their opinions about science experiments; if this is the case then the epistemological beliefs of teachers and trainees towards science experiments and aims of experiments should be investigated. And the question of how negative conditions affect their epistemological beliefs and their attitudes towards purpose of experiments remain unanswered and therefore it should be examined. Teachers attitudes towards aims science experiments were examined in terms of years of teaching experience and it was found that the means of the teachers whose experiences are between 6-10 years decreased and these results denote that it may be beneficial to perform well-developed in-service teacher training seminars for these teachers. Additionally, pedagogues and academicians should inform the teachers about the aims, new approaches and innovations in science labs and provide them with rich written resources (Ayas, Çepni & Akdeniz, 1994), and increase their interests and desires towards lab thorough in-service seminars.

5 Yıldız, Akpınar, Aydoğdu & Ergin / TÜFED-TUSED / 3(2) References Ayas, A., Çepni, S. & Akdeniz, A. R. (1994). Fen Bilimleri Eğitiminde Laboratuvarın Yeri Ve Önemi-II. Çağdaş Eğitim, 205, Çepni, S., Akdeniz, A.R. & Ayas, A. (1995). Fen Bilimleri Eğitiminde Laboratuvarın Yeri Ve Önemi III: Ülkemizde Laboratuvar Uygulamaları Ve Öneriler. Çağdaş Eğitim Dergisi, 206, Ekici, G. (2002). Biyoloji Öğretmenlerinin Laboratuvar Dersine Yönelik Tutumlarının Farklı Değişkenler Açısından İncelenmesi. 17 Kasım 2005, Ergin, Ö., Pekmez, E. Ş. & Erdal, S. Ö. (2005). Kuramdan Uygulamaya Deney Yoluyla Fen Öğretimi. İzmir: Kanyılmaz Matbaası. Gayford, C. (1988). Aims, Purposes And Emphasis in Practical Biology At Advanced Level A Study Of Teachers Attitudes. School Science Review, 69 (249), Gürdal, A. (1991a). İlkokul Fen Eğitiminde Laboratuvar Ve Araç Kullanımı. Marmara Üniversitesi Eğitim Bilimleri Dergisi, 3, /352. Johnstone, H.A., & Al-Shuaili, A. (2001). Learning in the Laboratory; Some Thoughts From The Literature. University Chemistry Education, 5, Karasar, N. (1999). Bilimsel Araştırma Yöntemi: Kavramlar, İlkeler, Teknikler. Ankara: 3A Araştırma Eğitim Danışmanlık Ltd. Kocakülah, M.S. & Kocakülah, A. (2001). İlköğretim Fen Eğitiminde Yapılan Deneysel Çalışmalar İle İlgili Öğretmen Görüşleri. Yeni Bin Yılın Başında Türkiye de Fen Bilimleri Eğitimi Sempozyumu Kitapçığı, Maltepe Üniversitesi, 7 8 Eylül 2001, İstanbul. Landolfi, E. (2002). Novice And Experienced Science Teachers Understanding And Uses Of Practical Activities. Yayınlanmamış Doktora Tezi, University Of Toronto , Proquest Digital Dissertations. Lynch, P.P., & Ndyetabura, V.L. (1983). Practical Work In Schools: An Examination Of Teachers Stated Aims And The Influence Of Practical Work According To Students. Journal Of Research In Science Teaching, 20 (7), Monk, M.J., Fairbrother, R.W., & Dillon, J.S. (1993). Learning Content Through Process: Practical Strategies For Science Teachers In Developing Countries. Journal Of Science And Mathematics Education In S. E. Asia, 16, Swain, J., Monk, M., & Johnson, S. (1999). A Comparative Study of Attitudes to the Aims Of Tezcan, H. & Günay, S. (2003). Lise Kimya Öğretiminde Laboratuvar Kullanımına İlişkin Öğretmen Görüşleri. Milli Eğitim, 159, Thair, M., & Treagust, D.F. (1999). Teacher Training Reforms In Indonesian Secondary Science: The Importance Of Practical Work In Physics. Journal Of Research In Science Teaching, 36 (3), Tsai, C.-C. (2003). Taiwanese Science Students and Teachers Perceptions Of The Laboratory Learning Environment: Exploring Some Epistemological Gaps. International Journal Of Science Education, 25 (7), West, R. (1972). Objectives For Practical Work In School Chemistry. School Science Review, 186, Zeichner, K.M., Tabachnick, B.R., & Densmore, K. (1987). Individual, Institutional, and Cultural Influences Of The Development Of Teachers Craft Knowledge. In J. Calderhead (Ed.). Exploring Teachers Thinking. London: Cassell Education.

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