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Title:Case studies of instruction towards scientific literacy in three eighth-grade science classrooms in Illinois
Author(s):Peters, Thomas T.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gould, Orrin
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sciences
Abstract:Measures of scientific literacy point to inadequate programs of science education in American schools. Understanding current conditions in science classrooms is a necessary precursor to change. Yet, little information is available which describes what happens within them toward the goal of scientific literacy.
This study portrays current conditions in eighth grade science classrooms in three Illinois schools. These are--Wordsworth JHS in suburban Chicago, Plainfields School in rural, east-central Illinois, and Oswald JHS on the outskirts of a city in central Illinois.
An ethnographic approach is employed to develop profiles of the students, teachers, and science experiences. The Illinois State Learning Goals for Science serve as both the definition for scientific literacy in this study and as a framework to guide data collection. Data are presented from observations of lessons, interviews with students and teachers, surveys of students and teachers, and artifacts of classroom activities.
Towards the broad goals of scientific literacy mandated in Illinois, the study finds teachers emphasize a narrowly focused curriculum. They stress primarily content and vocabulary. There is little study of the social implications of technological development. Teachers and students value cooperation and communication as part of the science experience. Such experiences do occur, to some extent, in laboratory activities. Lab activities, however, emphasize direction following and finding right answers over developing process skills.
The author asserts that it is the structure of these schools as a series of isolating boxes that most influences science experiences within. School science is isolated from science outside of school and from other subjects within school. Teachers carry a box of assumptions about what is to be taught, how it is to be taught, and what is proof of successful teaching. Teaching is isolated from students' interests and learning. Students' role is as passive listener and paperworker. Motivation to learn comes from teacher generated rewards and punishments.
The author offers ten guiding questions toward breaking down structural boxes that hinder efforts toward scientific literacy.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Peters, Thomas T.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114373
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114373

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