An experimental study of the science curriculum improvement study involving fourth graders' ability to understand concepts of relative position and motion using the planetarium as a testing device.
The study was undertaken because of a need to evaluate the Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS) program at the fourth grade level. The SCIS unit titled ""Relativity"" is presented to fourth graders enrolled in the pro- gram and is the particular unit under investigation.
The Science Curriculum Improvement Study is a K - 6 course content improvement project supported by the National Science Foundation. The program was initiated in 1962 by Robert Karplus, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of California, Berkeley. One of the overall objectives of the SCIS program is to develop scientific literacy, i.e., a sufficient knowledge and under- standing of the fundamental concepts of both the biological and physical sciences. The program attempts to introduce science materials and concepts compatible
with children's reasoning abilities by providing equipment for the children's own investigations, and by giving freedom to discover the value of the concepts for themselves.
The unit ""Relativity"" consists of four parts. The first two parts deal with relative position and the last two with relative motion. The main concept through the entiro unit is that relative motion is a change in relative position.
In order to evaluate the effect of this unit, an examination had to be created that was not of tho traditional style of a written test. There has been little evidence of success achieved in testing the SCIS objectives by the use of written tests. At the elementary school level, traditional types of written tests mainly measure recall since comprehension and operation with written test items require mental processes that usually arise between the ages of eleven and fifteen years.
An alternative to the written test is a planetarium oriented evaluation process whereby the student is shown examples of relative position and motion (the unit under investigation) that are different from those examples previously Been in the classroom. In this novel setting the student would have to depend less on recall and more on his ability to understand the concepts of the unit ""Relativity"".
A thirty item planetarium test was created and used as a pretest and a posttest. An item analysis revealed that the test had a reliability coefficient of .6995 based on the posttest data. The test was administered to nine classes of SCIS fourth graders and six classes of non-SCIS children (control group). The fifteenclasses were from the school districts of East Lansing, DeWltt, and Grind Ledge, Michigan.
Analysis of covariance was used to test the null hypothesis of no significant difference in adjusted mean scores between the SCIS and non-SCIS groups.
Both grocrps of students improved their mean score on the post-test. However, the SCIS students showed a gain from pretest to poettcst that Is more than twice as large as the non-SCIS group gain. The analysis indicates that thin difference Is significant at the . 05 level. Therefore, the nuU hypothesis was rejected. It was concluded that the fourth graders enrolled in the Science Curric- ulum Improvement Study after having received the material presented in that program's unit titled ""Relativity"" had a significantly greater ability to understand the concepts of relative position and motion than a comparable group of students who had not received such instruction.
Battaglini, D. W. (1971). An Experimental Study of the Science Curriculum Improvement Study Involving Fourth Graders’ Ability to Understand Concepts of Relative Position and Motion Using the Planetarium as a Testing Device. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.
Type of Publication
Battaglini, Dennis W.
Michigan State University
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America