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Volume 5, Issue 1, 2001
Source: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5 (2001)More Less
Extracted from text ... Editorial In a sense, it can be claimed that the Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education has come of age! It has survived its first change of editor. The Journal was founded five years ago, and ever since its inception has been edited by one of Africa.s best known and most prolific researchers in science education, Meshach Ogunnini. We all owe him a tremendous vote of thanks for all he has done. It is no easy task to found a new ..
Source: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 1 –12 (2001)More Less
This paper reports on aspects of a three-phase study whose aim was to gather information on undergraduates responses to the study of science. The emphasis of this paper is on the methodological issues arising from considerations of how to measure and analyse data on attitudes. The study draws on the methodology employed in an earlier study undertaken in Canada, the Views on Science-Technology-Society (VOSTS) study, applying the methodology in a new context. The first two phases involved the development and validation of an appropriate research instrument. The third phase involved using the instrument with students in the first year of study at Wits University. In addition to the quantitative data gathered, the students' responses on the instrument were used to develop in-depth 'profiles' of particular groups of students.
Source: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 13 –28 (2001)More Less
This study makes use of a previously validated instrument to compare the views about the study of chemistry expressed by two different groups of chemistry students in their first year of study at university. One group was enrolled in an access course, while the other was a group of direct entry students. Six strands were explored in the questionnaire - attitudes to study, practical work, tutorials, lectures, language and, for the first group only, being on an access course. Quantitative findings showed similarities and difference between the groups, most notably that the access students were more positive in their attitudes towards tutorials, while direct entry students, being predominantly English first language speakers, were more positive about language. On the qualitative side, differences and similarities also emerged in the profiles constructed, which were found to be useful for planning future interventions.
Author Liliana MamminoSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 29 –40 (2001)More Less
Physical quantities pertain to the description of systems and their changes pertain to the description of processes. A variety of imprecisions and mistakes in the corresponding definitions and utilisation have been identified in the works of chemistry students. This paper presents an overview of the types of confusion that appear more frequently within general chemistry and physical chemistry courses. The physical quantities concerned range from state properties (like <I>temperature</I> and <I>volume</I>) to thermodynamic functions (<I>enthalpy</I>, <I>entropy</I>, etc.) to more specifically chemical concepts (like <I>reaction rate</I>). Hypotheses on the causes behind the confusions are proposed and discussed within a comprehensive framework including method-related aspects. The rate / extent to which the confusions appear, and the range of contexts concerned, suggest the opportunity of designing <I>ad hoc</I> remedial measures and prevention measures, the latter being relevant for the pre-tertiary levels of education.
Gender differences in mathematics performance attributions among first year students at National University of Lesotho : implications for access to and performance in mathematicsSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 41 –52 (2001)More Less
Personal factors tend to inhibit learners' opportunity to benefit from the provision of mathematics education and to achieve satisfactory performance in mathematics. Equity in the provision of such education is seen to be lacking if such factors relate significantly to one or the other of the demographic characteristics of a group of learners or of their schools. One of such factors relates to the reaction of the learner to his/her experience with this subject. According to Heider (1944), when we have a failing or successful experience, we may locate its origin in another person or thing, in fate or ourselves, and this might influence the way we relate to or perform in the subject in the future. Performance attribution in mathematics has been found in many populations to be gender related. To assess this for a population of 2000/2001 National University of Lesotho (NUL) first year students, attribution and performance data in mathematics were gathered from 563 students and then analysed using chi-square, independent t-test, and 2-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical techniques. The results showed that attribution of mathematics performance among these students is significantly gender-dependent, and that males tended to attribute their performance to effort significantly more their female counterparts. Additionally, both gender and attribution were found to relate significantly to performance in the subject. These results are discussed, and recommendations made with regard to diluting such gender influence, and hence enhancing achievement and equity in the provision of mathematics education.
Author Willy MwakapendaSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 53 –64 (2001)More Less
Proponents of education reform in Malawi have recently recognized the need to provide secondary education that is more responsive to the needs and realities of society. The research being reported in this article investigated teachers' experiences in experimenting with the use of everyday experiences in teaching mathematics in two schools in Malawi. This study explored the extent to which teachers' classroom practices and their views of mathematics teaching changed, as a consequence of using everyday experiences in their classrooms. The results show that there were limited changes in teachers' practices and their views of mathematics teaching due to teachers' emphasis on meeting school examination requirements. For these changes to have occurred, considerable teaching commitments were required.
Rationalisation and science instructional implications of some superstitious beliefs about natural phenomena in BotswanaSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 65 –84 (2001)More Less
The aims of the study were to determine the rationale for some of the superstitious beliefs about natural phenomena held by Botswana, to explore young Batswana's views about the superstitions and to suggest instructional strategies for learning the science relevant to the superstitions. Using a survey design, 30 junior secondary school students' acceptance of the superstitions were determined through interviews and a questionnaire, while 30 science teachers' and 40 elderly Batswana's rationalisations or explanations for the superstitions were determined through unstructured interviews. The researchers determined the basis of each superstition by considering these explanations. Out of 61 superstitious beliefs investigated, 18(30%) were based on religion/spiritualism, 13(21%) on morality, 13(21%) on safety, 9(15%) on health/hygiene, 7 (12%) on social considerations, and 6 (10%) on the environment and views of nature. Suggestions are made on how to use experimental strategies, questioning, brainstorming and discussion to investigate the superstitions in science lessons.
Author Alois Solomon ChiromoSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 85 –98 (2001)More Less
The study was aimed at identifying the conceptions held by 'O' Level students who were studying the Zimbabwe Integrated Science syllabus in Mutare urban high schools. The study was conducted with 409 students. The conceptions were established by administering a multiple-choice test on ecological concepts followed by face-to-face interviews with 27 respondents.<br> The study established that students held erroneous conceptions in varying degrees in the following aspects of ecology: food chains and webs, populations, inverted pyramid of numbers, nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle and energy flow in ecosystems. However, students had a clear understanding of the source of energy for plants and some food web dynamics.<br> The results of this study suggest that students are likely to hold erroneous views of the topic under study. It is suggested in this study that teachers should endeavour to identify students' misconceptions on a given topic, and then use them as a basis for instruction. Curriculum developers should design science curricula that build on students' conceptions, and to that effect the Zimbabwe Integrated Science syllabus needs revision so that students' misconceptions of certain ecological concepts can be addressed.
Author Anthony KoosimileSource: Journal of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 5, pp 99 –112 (2001)More Less
In 1976, after 10 years of independence of Botswana from the United Kingdom, a new era in the education system of the young nation was launched. It pronounced some virtues of education based on the social, political, economic, cultural and artistic values and realities of the nation of Botswana. Now into the new millennium, it looks as if the dream and the transformation effort has become an illusion, a mirage, as the ideals are now simply confined to paper. Various factors on curriculum development for science offered in senior secondary schools in Botswana provides some insights into the issue. As this paper shows, inexperience in curriculum development and the mindset of curriculum developers is part of the legacy of imported curriculum materials that militated against the realisation of the ideal. Also, the intricacies of group dynamics of Task Forces show that the prevalence of a leadership vacuum and the emergence of powerful groups within Task Forces compromised the curriculum localisation effort. Consequently, curriculum localisation became synonymous with curriculum adaptation.