An Investigation Of The Relationship Of Three Factors In Printed Materials To Achievement In Astronomy By Sixth Grade Students

Eaton Jr., Edward Jefferson (1964) An Investigation Of The Relationship Of Three Factors In Printed Materials To Achievement In Astronomy By Sixth Grade Students. Doctoral thesis, University of Illinois.

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Abstract

The curriculum designer, today, is confronted with unique tasks with respect to selection of subject matter. He is asked to keep abreast of changing data and theories within the disciplines and also to identify what content is to be incorporated into the existing program. To accomplish these tasks, he must be knowledgeable about each discipline; but to be constantly conversant with any one discipline requires continuous study. Bingham (1962) has pointed out that nearly everything known now in the sciences was unknown when most adults were in school. As an educator, the designer is faced also with new evidence in psychology which points to a revised theory of learning—a theory which encourages the introduction of content to students at an earlier age than heretofore thought feasible and that accents the desirability of doing so. Fraser (1963) sees the educator, in an attempt to meet the challenge, slowly moving from the learner-centered curriculum toward the discipline- centered curriculum. Optimally, the teacher will soon be helping his students develop newly identified concepts of the disciplines through a process grounded in the emerging psychology. Scholars, scientists, and teachers are becoming increasingly aware of the shortcomings of continuing our present practices in curriculum revision. These efforts usually take the form of periodically depositing newly found data on the existing foundation. Partly from this concern a theory has developed: under each discipline lies a structure which supports its body of accumulated knowledge. It is the understanding of this structure which lends intellectual power to the student, not the non-sequential fragments currently in the curriculum. Bruner (1961, p. 32), in summarizing the thoughts of leaders from a number of disciplines, stated: Designing curricula in a way that reflects the basic structure of a field of knowledge requires the most fundamental under- standing of that field. It is a task that cannot be carried out without the active participation of the ablest scholars and scientists. The problem of curriculum revision and implementation becomes acute and complex. In turning to the structure of the discipline, there is the probability that much of our present curriculum, often considered trivial, will be replaced. Basic concepts known to and identified by the leaders in the disciplines will supplant existing curriculum content. It would not be unreasonable to state that most of these concepts are either foreign to, or at best only vaguely recognized by, the present classroom teacher. It is beyond reasonable expectation that the general practitioner in the classroom will be at ease in this new arena. This inadequacy may be the force driving many zealous educators totally into the arms of ""process"" as a panacea. Thus, students engage themselves in the act of searching or inquiring into areas with only incidental consideration by the teacher as to what goals or specific content learnings are to be the outcome of the activity. Proficiency in the act of searching is of prime concern in some programs, overshadowing content. However, many educators believe that ""process"" without content is meaningless. In fact, content in many instances will determine process. Scholars and scientists, although specialists in their realms, would have a difficult time, indeed, communicating the basic concepts which they have identified to elementary school children. This task has been left, in most of the current curriculum revision projects, in the hands of the educator. He in turn, through production of instructional materials,must interpret to children. In many instance sthe teacher is ill equipped to teach these specialized areas and could conceivably do a great Injustice to both the student and the discipline. It would appear that if this trend is to continue, the learning materials of the future must be capable, so to speak, of carrying their own weight. It is unrealistic to believe that all elementary-school teachers can be trained to teach any discipline at any depth or that it would be even possible to train a substantial number of them to be competent in any one discipline. It is more realistic perhaps to think that if a systematic method of preparation of materials could be found, one in which critical factors related to achievement could be consciously incorporated, then the teacher could assume the role of diagnostician. It would be his task to assess the conceptual level of the child and match this judgment with the myriad of possible areas to be explored. It is toward the problem of design of effective curriculum materials that this study is directed. To date, little research has been produced to give direction to the problem. Lumsdaine (1963, p. 586) reports that a few studies have been done: ... in which the format or content of the printed textual material has been experimentally manipulated in a situation involving supervised reading for a fixed interval or a similarly structured situation. A further potential exception might be envisaged in a large-scale field experiment in which the experimental factor is availability of text or reference materials In two or more clearly differentiated alternative forms. Such a study would require a considerable sampling of classes or schools, and teachers. It would pose the question: Does placing one kind of text in the hands of teachers or students result (despite probable wide variation in the conditions of its use) in differences in achievement? No such studies or conventional textbooks are known to the author, though studies of ""programmed"" textbooks...follow this pattern. In recognition of this void, plus concern with the usual trial and error method of material preparation, this study was an attempt to investigate differences In student achievement and attitude formation due to planned differences In textual materials. These differences were determined and controlled through the manipulation of three factors: (1) number of questions, (2) activities, and (3) incongruities. These three factors were selected because of their apparent importance in the learning process. It is readily conceded that these factors are not all inclusive and that two or more in varying combinations may provide variances in the results. However, it was hoped that through the act of identifying their role in isolation, this study may provide possible direction or avenues for further study for those concerned with preparation of Instructional materials. It was necessary to search for content materials which demanded no more knowledge or skills than those possessed by the students in the study, but which were sufficiently unfamiliar to both teachers and students as to limit the influence of extraneous factors. On the basis of this criteria, Chapter Four, ""Charting on the Earth,"" from the astronomy text, Charting the Universe was selected as the content of the study. Based upon the criteria and the content selected, it was decided to use sixth grade students as subjects. From an analysis of the chapter, the investigator constructed a fifty-five item multiple-choice examination to be used both as a pretest and a post-test. To the latter there were added three attitude questions concerning: (1)like or dislike for the subject;(2)perceived difficulty of the content; (3) desire to continue the study. Six treatments of ""Charting on the Earth"" were written. In each instance one of the three factors was increased or decreased substantially in number, while an attempt was made to control the other two factors. Each of the six versions and the original chapter was taught by five sixth grade teachers as part of their regular science instruction. A total of thirty-five teachers and eight hundred eighty-nine students were involved in the study. In conducting this study, the following hypotheses were made. These thirteen hypotheses, stated in null form, are tested in Chapter Four. I. There is a significant difference in the achievement scores of subjects related systematically to differences among the seven treatments. A. The achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of questions are significantly greater than the achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of questions. B. The achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of activities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of activities. C. The achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of incongruities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of incongruities. II. There is a significant difference between the achievement scores of the five sixth grade classes within any one treat- ment group. III. There is a significant difference in the achievement scores of male subjects related systematically to differences among the seven treatments. A. The achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of questions are significantly greater than the achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of questions. B. The achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of activities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of activities. C. The achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of incongruities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of male subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of incongruities. IV. There is a significant difference in the achievement scores of female subjects related systematically to differences among the seven treatments. A. The achievement scores of female subjects studying the B. C. treatment with the greatest number of questions are significantly greater than the achievement scores of female subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of questions. The achievement scores of female subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of activities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of female subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of activities. The achievement scores of female subjects studying the treatment with the greatest number of Incongruities are significantly greater than the achievement scores of female subjects studying the treatment with the fewest number of incongruities. V. There is a significant difference In the achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the upper one-fourth of all subjects related systematically to differences among the seven treatments. A. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the upper one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of questions are significantly greater than scores of similar subjects who studied the treatment with the fewest number of questions. B. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the upper one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of activities are significantly- greater than scores of similar subjects who studied the treatment with the fewest number of activities. C. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the upper one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of Incongruities are significantly greater than scores of similar subjects who studied the treatment with the fewest number of incongruities, VI. There is a significant difference in the achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the lower one-fourth of all subjects related systematically to differences among the seven treatments. A. B. C. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the lower one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of questions are significantly greater than scores of similar subjects who studied the treatment with the fewest number of questions. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages in the lower one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of activities are significantly greater than scores of similar subjects who studied the treatment with the fewest number of activities. The achievement scores of subjects with mental ages In the lower one-fourth of all subjects who studied the treatment with the greatest number of incongruities are significantly...

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Mr Ross Cutts
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2017 02:04
Last Modified: 29 May 2018 02:37
URI: http://istardb.org/id/eprint/330

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