Title

Exploring the efficacy of specially designed hands-on activities to develop conceptual understanding of the scientific method for middle school science teachers

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the efficacy of specially designed hands-on activities in developing conceptual understanding of the scientific method. It has been discussed in nature of science texts that the scientific method is an approach to undertake scientific investigations but it is not the only method. There could be non-linearity and non-rigidity in the sequence of the investigation process and the chance of serendipity during scientific discoveries is always present. However, several research studies have shown that teachers have a vague understanding of the scientific method or think that it is to be followed rigidly. This qualitative study which summarizes the research conducted on six middle school science teachers from Shining Light private school in Karachi. The data collection tools were pre-test, worksheets, observational checklist, reflective diary, and post-test. The purpose of the pre-test was to develop an understanding of the teachers’ prior knowledge of the scientific method which was followed by three half day workshops spread over six weeks. Five activities were designed and implemented in the workshop to develop the teachers’ understanding of the scientific method. After the workshop, a post-test was administered to assess the learning of the participants about the scientific method. The pre and post-test were same in order to track the conceptual understanding of participants as related to the scientific method. The findings of this research study report that participants who had a partial understanding in the pre-test developed a sound understanding of the scientific method in the post-test. Teachers grasped the key ideas that there is non-linearity, flexibility and serendipity during scientific investigations. The steps in the scientific method need not be followed in sequential order. The findings of the study illustrate that the hands-on activities facilitate teachers in improving conceptual understanding of the scientific method. Further, this teaching strategy was also effective in developing the communication skills; creating discussion, enhancing active engagement and altering misconceptions in the learners. Thus, this study concludes that naïve ideas of the scientific method can be improved by employing hands-on activities. However, it was challenging to design and implement the hands-on activities without pedagogical content knowledge and guidance of the supervisor. Hence, this study brings the implications for the science teachers and teacher educators that they should employ hands-on activities in the classroom because it is vital to understand the actual essence of scientific method.

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