Research on Science

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Proceedings of the Redesigning Pedagogy: Culture, Knowledge and Understanding Conference, Singapore, May 2007

PROMOTING SCIENCE PROCESS SKILLS AND THE RELEVANCE OF SCIENCE THROUGH SCIENCE ALIVE! PROGRAMME

Grace Teo Yew Mei Clementi Town Secondary School

Chan Kaling Charlene Seah Xinyi Jessie Sim Kim Sing Karine Nai Sok Khoon Clementi Town Secondary School

ABSTRACT The study explores ways in which students who have participated in a curriculum innovation, Science ALIVE! acquire Science process skills and perceive the relevance of Science in everyday life. It investigates whether students have, after the programme, perceived an improvement in applying Science process skills. Four classes of Secondary 2 Express students attended one of four modules in the Science ALIVE! programme and responded to a pre- and post-course survey to measure their perceived skill competency for each process skill. They also responded to questions on whether the programme enhanced their awareness

of the relevance of Science in everyday life. Five students from each module were selected to provide written feedback at mid-course and write a journal after the course. The content of their feedback and journals were analysed to provide deeper insight of the results of the perception surveys. The data was triangulated with teachers’ feedback, which was used to provide insight of the factors that affect the acquisition of the process skills. The findings show significant increase in students’ perception of skill competency while a high percentage of students indicated that the programme has made them more aware of the relevance of Science in their lives.

INTRODUCTION Traditional learning approaches in which students are passive recipients of knowledge are inconsistent with the call for Singapore schools to Teach Less, Learn More (TLLM). There is a need to allow learning to occur in settings that are relevant to students’ experiences and real world problems. In Clementi Town Secondary School (CTSS), Project Work was used as a platform for students to transfer their learning and apply in authentic applications. However, teachers who had conducted Project Work for Science at Secondary 2 observed that students’ projects lacked depth in the specific content area, and the skills needed for scientific investigations. This spurred the need to cover content knowledge relevant to the projects assigned. It also raised the concern that Science process skills, as stipulated in the MOE Lower Secondary Science (LSS) Syllabus, were not sufficiently emphasised compared to acquiring scientific knowledge. Teachers also indicated that students were unable to appreciate the relevance of Science in solving problems in their lives after past Project Work tasks.

Science Process Skills “Science process skills” is commonly used to describe a set of broadly transferable abilities

that are reflective of what scientists do. These skills are grouped into two types – basic and integrated. Basic process skills provide a foundation for learning the integrated skills, which are more complex skills for solving problems or doing Science experiments. In this study, reflecting is listed as a process skill to be investigated, though it is usually considered part of thinking skills which is a broader category that subsumes process skills.

Some Science educators have argued that “teaching students Science facts is not as important as developing their Science process skills so that they can learn this knowledge on their own” (Young, 1995). Studies in the United States have shown that elementary school students who are taught process skills, not only learn to use those processes, but also retain them for future use. In Singapore, the MOE Primary Science syllabus also emphasises the teaching of basic process skills and some integrated skills, while the LSS syllabus emphasises the use of process skills for planning investigations and creative problem solving, and other...
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