|dc.creator||Hobden, Paul Anthony.||
|dc.description||Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1999.||en
|dc.description.abstract||The purpose of this study was to extend our current knowledge about what
happens in physical science classrooms. The focus was the context of problem
tasks. This involved the study of the situations, events and factors that relate to
the solving of problem tasks at high school in order to understand their role and
nature. e problem tasks that were central to this study were well defined,
narrow in focus, and invariably involved the calculation of some quantity through
the use of a formula and algebraic manipulation.
The main questions that guided the study were as follows: What is happening in
physical science classrooms? What is the nature and role of problem solving within
this context? What are some of the consequences of organising teaching and
learning in this manner? How do external forces influence what happens? The
study aimed at describing the activities that the teachers and students were
involved in and understanding how they understood their own actions. An
interpretive research approach was chosen for this purpose, having as its basis a
detailed descriptive foundation using classroom observation.
Two high school science classrooms were studied in detail over a period of a year.
The data gathered included field notes from over a hundred classroom visits,
extensive video and audio records, questionnaires, classroom documents and
formal an informal interviews with teachers, students and examiners. Through a
process of careful and systematic analysis of the data, six assertions emerged.
These assertions are supported by both particular evidence in the form of analytic
narrative vignettes, quotes and extracts, and general evidence consisting of
frequency data and summary tables.
The analysis reveals that problem tasks occupied most of the teaching and
learning time, and that the students found this experience of school science boring.
Most of the problem tasks were routine in nature and of low conceptual demand.
The majority of the students were unable to solve the more difficult tasks
encountered in their tests and examinations. In addition, a significant number
could not solve the routine problem tasks. This suggests that the predominant
instructional strategies were ineffective. It was found that participants had an
uncritical belief in the efficacy of teacher explanations and student practice on
problem tasks. Further, the participants had different views of the role of problem
tasks. A significant finding was that the examination exerted a powerful focusing
influence on the classroom environment, the instructional activities and on the
problem tasks used . It appeared that the ultimate goal of school physical science
was to solve these types of problem task in preparation for the high stakes
examination, rather than the learning of science.
The study has implications both for practice and for research on the teaching and
learning of school physical science. These implications are discussed in terms of
instructional strategies aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of physical
science. In order to improve practice it is advocated that the role of problem tasks
in learning science be made explicit while at the same time new types of
instructional task need to be designed to achieve our goals for school science.||en
|dc.subject||Chemistry--Study and teaching (Secondary)||en
|dc.subject||Problem solving--Study and teaching.||en
|dc.subject||Physics--Study and teaching (Secondary)||en
|dc.subject||Chemistry--Study and teaching--South Africa.||en
|dc.subject||Physics--Study and teaching--South Africa.||en
|dc.title||The context of problem tasks in school physical science.||en