An evaluation of the impact of a life science module on teachers' scientific literacy.
Naidoo, Jaqueline Theresa.
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The Advanced Certificate in Education Programme was launched in 2002 at the School of Education, Training and Development, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in an attempt to upgrade and retrain science educators, given the drastic shortage of qualified science educators in South Africa. This research study investigated the development of scientific literacy within a group of fifteen educators during the first semester of their two-year Advanced Certificate in Education Programme. The study focused on scientific literacy and the relationship between language comprehension skills, readability and scientific literacy. This study aimed to examine whether the Natural Sciences and Biological Sciences module of the Advanced Certificate in Education Programme was effective in raising the level of scientific literacy of educators. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed in the collection of data. Students wrote a pre-test at the beginning of the first semester and the same test was written as the post-test at the end of the first semester. Semi-structured interviews with tutors were also conducted. Responses of students in the Student Evaluation Questionnaire, given at the end of their first year of study, were analysed to ascertain their perceptions about the tutors, their knowledge and understanding of the content and skills of the modules and the learning material. The questions used in the achievement test were adapted from the question bank of the Science Achievement Test used for Grade 8 learners in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study-Repeat in 1998/1999. The same achievement test was used in the pre-test and post-test, using questions from the Life Science and Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science content areas. The results from this research study indicated that although the level of scientific literacy of educators improved, it was not statistically significant. The study also highlights that language and comprehension skills and inability of students to express their answers in writing hampered their performance in the scientific literacy test. This was demonstrated by the significant positive correlation between language comprehension and readability with scientific literacy. Specific areas of conceptual difficulty were also highlighted in this study. Implications of these findings for further research and delivery of mixed-mode programmes are discussed.
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