Exploring grade ten physical science learners' conceptions of nature of science.
Moodley, Anand Balakistan.
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The purpose of this study was to explore Physical Science learners' conceptions of nature of science. Grade ten learners were the focus in this study. They were the second group of learners who had experienced outcomes-based education in the General Education and Training band. The main research question that framed this study was: What are grade ten Physical Science learners' conceptions of nature of science? In order to answer the key research question this study also attempted to determine if learners held contemporary views of nature of science as accepted by the scientific community and as required by the new Natural Sciences curriculum and if there were differences in conceptions between groups such as male and female or different cultural groups namely Black and Indian learners. The research was conducted using a mixed methods approach where both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered. This study is embedded in a survey design. Quantitative data was obtained by administering a survey questionnaire to 190 grade ten Physical Science learners from seven different schools. Qualitative data was obtained from an open-format questionnaire, using a number of science-based scenarios, that was administered to a single class. The purpose was to obtain a deeper understanding of learners' nature of science conceptions in action. The findings of this study indicated that learners had mixed conceptions of nature of science. They possessed contemporary conceptions for certain aspects of nature of science but others were rooted in positivism. The results of this study concurred with the abundant international literature on nature of science. The findings have also revealed that there were significant differences for certain aspects of nature of science between the groups. Indian and Black learners had different conceptions for certain aspects of nature of science and so did the males and females. The intention of this study was to provide baseline data and guidance to teachers on what conceptions or alternate conceptions learners have about nature of science. Limited research exists on nature of science in South Africa. This study opens up the possibility of more detailed research into learners' views on nature of science within the new reforms of our South African science curriculum.