Secondary school students’ attitudes to practical work in school science

Sharpe, Rachael (2012) Secondary school students’ attitudes to practical work in school science. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Practical work is seen as having an important role in school science. In particular many have claimed that it has an essential role in determining students’ attitudes to school science and science beyond the classroom. However, whilst there has been much research into students’ attitudes to science there has been little research into their attitudes to practical work in particular. This study considers students’ attitudes in terms of the cognitive, affective and behavioural analytical framework developed by Rosenberg (1960). The study is based on data collected from three English secondary schools within Key Stages 3 and 4. It involved questionnaires in biology, chemistry and physics as well as school visits that involved lesson observations, semi-structured interviews and focus groups with students. Field notes and audio-recordings were made throughout these visits for subsequent analysis. The findings suggest that secondary
students’ attitudes to practical work are, generally speaking, positive. However, what also emerged was the extent to which such attitudes to practical work differed, not only across the three sciences, but also showed a statistically significant decline as students progressed through their secondary school education. The reason for this being that the
relative importance of the cognitive, affective and behavioural domains changed as students moved away from a focus on the enjoyment of science towards one that was examination orientated. The implications of this study suggests that teachers need to be far more aware that students’ attitudes to practical work need to be consider according
to the science they are studying and their age, rather than seeing their attitudes to practical work being unchanging and uniform across the three sciences.

Keywords:Practical Work, Secondary School, Secondary Science, Biology Practical Work, Teachers' Attitudes, Chemistry Practical Work, Physics Practical Work
Subjects:L Social studies > L433 Education Policy
X Education > X320 Academic studies in Primary Education
X Education > X300 Academic studies in Education
X Education > X330 Academic studies in Secondary Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:14657
Deposited On:08 Aug 2014 15:45

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