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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Affective objectives in an integrated science curriculum
Author(s): Brown, Sara A
Issue Date: 1975
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Introduction: The purpose of this study is to see firstly, whether or not the attitude objectives of a particular integrated science course are 'any good', and secondly, the extent to which they are being achieved. It cannot be claimed that this constitutes a complete evaluation of the objectives (and certainly not the science course) but the aim has been to look at them from a number of different perspectives with the following in mind: 'A curriculum has not been positively evaluated in this full sense until it has been shown to have clear objectives and appropriate means to achieve them; to have objectives which have been proved against all comers to be educationally respectable; to connect with the abilities-of those pupils for whom it is designed; and to be more efficient than rivals in the field. Only then can it get its tick’ (White 1971). The integration of the sciences and the inclusion of affective as well as cognitive goals in science curricula have been given considerable attention by writers on science education and curriculum developers over the last decade or two. The 'integration' debate has been far ranging (and sometimes bitter) among teachers, administrators and philosophers. While some of this debate has been at a high level of rational argument, some has been at the tub-thumping level between 'bandwaggon integrationists' and the 'separate disciplines brigade'. No such pair of factions can be identified in the discourse on affective goals (since no one has taken the categorical position that 'pupils should not achieve favourable attitudes to science'). Unfortunately, this has led to a situation where much of the literature exhorting us to teach towards affective goals has been statement of personal opinions unsupported by adequate theory or empirical evidence, and which has not received the criticism it deserves (perhaps able critics have felt that they have better things to do than comment on trivia). One of the things that this study attempts to do is to sort out the substantial contributions to this area of science education from the general ragbag. These theoretical perspectives are then related to a group of attitude objectives 'in action’. While many integrated science curricula have been developed throughout the world over the last few years, the meaning of 'integration', the value of the integrated approach, and its implications for pupils' attitude development have by no means always been made explicit. It is hoped that the examination of these areas that appears in this thesis will help to clarify the situation. The study centres round a group of five attitude objectives laid down as part of an integrated science course. The course is the first cycle of Science for General Education, Curriculum Paper 7, Sc ttish Education Department, 1969, and is intended for pupils of all abilities in the first two years of secondary school in Scotland. The ages of these pupils are from 12 to 14 years and the year groups are designated 'S1 and 'S2'. The five objectives are that pupils should acquire: ‘[1] awareness of the inter-relationship of the different disciplines of science [2] awareness of the relationship of science to other aspects of the curriculum 345 [3] awareness of the contribution of science to the social and economic life of the community [4] Interest and enjoyment in science [5] an objectivity in observation and in assessing observations' (Curriculum Paper 7, page 16). The problem has been conceptualized in two broad questions, one nonempirical and one empirical: (i) What are the arguments presented for inclusion of these attitude obejctives in this curriculum, and are these arguments educationally valid? (ii) To what extent are these objectives being achieved among secondary school pupils in Scotland, and what factors influence that achievement? The Scottish Education Department showed considerable interest in the second of these questions. Indeed, Curriculum Paper 7 itself (page 31), in discussing the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Integrated Science course in achieving specific objectives, suggests that 'There is here a wide field for further investigations including assessment of attitudes'. The outcome of this interest was the award to this author of a 3 year grant in 1971 that enabled an empirical study of the achievement of the attitude objectives to be carried out on a large scale (3000+ pupils). The work relating to this study is described in Chapters 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of this thesis, while Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 (and possibly 6) relate to the first of the two questions. In Chapter 1 the different types of argument that are put forward for teaching towards affective objectives are reviewed, and the rationale for the inclusion of the attitude objectives in Curriculum Paper 7 is examined in terms of these various categories. The sorts of choices about appropriate purposes for the curriculum that the curriculum developer must make before selecting his objectives are outlined, and the extent to which such selection depends on empirical evidence or subjective judgments is discussed. This chapter addresses itself to the political decisions that are made about which broad areas of attitudes are the concern of the school. Hopefully these decisions are taken on the basis of rational argument and empirical evidence (where that is available), and can be defended in relation to what ought to be worthwhile knowledge and skills for pupils to acquire. The second chapter moves away from judgments about what are worthwhile goals, and concerns itself with the information we have (mostly from social psychological theory and experiment rather than directly from the classroom) about the ways by which attitude goals may be achieved, and the implications of this information for the selection of affective objectives. Attention is given to the relationships between cognitive and affective learning, to the most effective ways of presenting cognitive material for attitude modification, and to the relationships between verbally expressed attitudes and other behaviour. This psychological information provides some guidance for the curriculum developer in conceptualizing the attitude that he has in mind and in operationalizing it as an affective objective. However, the actual formulation of objectives is hampered by the overlap and lack of precision of much of the terminology of this area, and later sections of Chapter 2 provide a discussion of levels of specification and classification systems which may help to systematize the selection of affective objectives for a science curriculum. Finally the extent to which the objectives of Curriculum Paper 7 relate to such systems is examined. The attitude objectives of Curriculum Paper 7 are integral parts of an integrated science course. Chapters 3 and 4 examine the proposition that the justification for the inclusion of these objectives may be implicit in the overall rationale for the integrated course. Chapter 3 is devoted to an examination of the various meanings of 'integration', those meanings that Curriculum Paper 7 ascribes to integration, and those attitudes to science that can be logically related to such meanings. Chapter 4 explores the various categories of arguments that have been used to establish the value of an integrated approach and the emphasis laid on each of these categories by Curriculum Paper 7. The justifications for such courses are made in terms of either their anticipated outcomes or the constraints under which the learning takes place. For each category then, the extent to which such outcomes are likely to emphasise attitudes and such constraints to constrain achievement of attitude objectives is discussed. This leads to the formulation of a number of hypotheses reflecting the extent to which the Integrated Science course might be expected to be more or less effective than three separate science courses in achieving the attitude objectives. These hypotheses are investigated in the later, empirical part of the study. Up to this point the concern has been with evaluation of the objectives to see if they have educational worth. Chapter 6 asks whether these five dimensions of affective curriculum objectives are related to any distinct attitude dimensions on which pupils can be seen to differ. This investigation uses factor analysis to explore the responses of pupils to five attitude scales each related to one of the five attitude objectives. These scales are the main instruments used in the part of this study concerned with the second broad (and empirical) question. The construction of the five attitude scales, together with an account of the pilot study, is described in Chapter 5. The pilot study was carried out among pupils of both sexes, from three age groups and with one group following Integrated Science and one following separate science courses. From the results of the pilot study it was possible to formulate further hypotheses on affective achievement for the main empirical study that was to be carried out in 40 secondary schools. The research plan for this main study of the assessment of the achievement of affective objectives is laid out in Chapters 7, 8 and 11. Chapter 7 identifies the research questions and discusses the relevant literature. The general research findings are then used to generate further hypotheses for this study. Chapter 8 describes the research structure and strategy. It provides details of the selection of criterion and independent variables, the sampling procedures adopted, the data gathering procedures and some preliminary studies of pupils' ability measures. Chapter 11 provides a detailed description of the statistical analyses of the attitude scale scores between-schools, within-schools, and within-teaching-groups. Chapter 12 collects together results from all the analyses relating to each of the attitude objectives. Two aspects of the empirical work that did not employ the five attitude scales developed in Chapter 5 are described in Chapters 9 and 10. Chapter 9 is concerned with a study of teachers' attitudes and evolved from the assumption that there should be salient attitude factors among teachers that will influence the attitudes to science of their pupils. In Chapter 10 an account is given of an attempt to measure, and to discriminate between, the 'scientific attitudes' (rather than the 'attitudes towards science') of pupils following the two types of science course, by means of a Cognitive Preference Test. The final chapter provides interpretations of the results of the analyses and relates these to the research questions and the hypotheses derived from theory, other research findings and the pilot study. The closing section attempts to draw some conclusions from the two strands (empirical and nonempirical) of this evaluation, and so to make a judgment on the five objectives from the Integrated Science course. The empirical study goes some way towards identifying the sorts of 'educational' variables that are, or are not, likely to be useful in explaining differences in attitudes to science among pupils. This has implications for the kinds of research questions that it is fruitful to ask, and for who it is that should identify what are the appropriate questions. Two very general conclusions about research and development in this area emerge from the study: a) research based only on what teachers think are important and interesting questions and not on any guiding theoretical framework, runs the risk of coming up with very little useful information, b) curricula that are not related to some substantial theoretical structure, run the risk of having obscure or ambiguous goals which cannot be understood or have their worth assessed, and so are unlikely to be translated into the classroom procedures intended by the curriculum planners.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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