"과학문화교육"

2005-04-25 (Vol 2, No 4)

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과학교육학 학위논문 요약과 종합해설

An Analysis of the Second Year Korean Science Textbook Using Piagetian Concrete and Formal Operational Thinking Patterns

CHAPTER VI. CONCLUSIONS, DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The main purpose of this study was to analyze the "learnability" of science content, in terms of educational objectives, of the second year science textbook of Korea's middle school using Piagetian formal operational thinking patterns (FOTP). The learnability of science contest was determined by a student's understanding as measured by an achievement test constructed for this study.
According to Piaget (1971), the cognitive capability of a child's problem-solving varies with cognitive develop-mental levels : sensory-motor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. Each level is characterized by the different patterns of a child's thoughts or what Piaget terms "mental operations." Piaget (1971) defines an operation as an internalized, reversible, and invariant action. The child's capability of problem-solving depends upon the patterns of the child's mental operations.
The highest level of mental operations, according to Inhelder and Piaget (1958), is formal operational, which is characterized by logical thinking patterns such as conservation, combinatorial logic, controlling variables, proportionality, probability, and hypothetico-deductive or propositional logic. These thinking patterns are in fact the basic framework for developing scientific know-ledge.
If formal operations are characterized by such thinking patterns, then they must be associated with a student's science learning. In other words, whether or not the student has formal operations should affect the outcomes of his or her science learning. Therefore, this investigator assumed that the students at a formal operational level could perform better on the understanding of science concepts than those who did not reach such a level.

CONCLUSION
The results of data analysis led the investigator to the following conclusions :
1. The majority of science content being dealt with in the three chapters of the science textbook were not suitable in terms of the intellectual development level of the second year students in the middle school.
The results showed that fifty-nine per cent or more of the educational objectives identified in this study were at an abstract level. The results also showed that seventy-eight per cent of the students did not reach the formal operational thinking level. So they had to work on abstract level objectives with their concrete operational thinking (see table 7).
2. The results of the analyses have supported the assumption that there existed a positive relationship between the achievement of educational objectives and Piagetian interview tasks and Piagetian-style written tests.
The results of the Pearson product-moment correlations for Piagetian tasks and the achievement test indicated that there was a positive and significant correlation between the scores of Piagetian tasks obtained from 127 subjects with the scores on the achievement test, including 28 questions at a concrete level and 32 at an abstract level. For example, significant correlations (coefficients:0.414 - 0.618) were found between the equilibrium-in-the-balance task and ratio and the "How's Your Logic" test with the part of the achievement test on abstract objectives and that of the achievement test on concrete level objectives at the 0.01 level of confidence. Also, significant correlations (0.220 - 0.444) were found between con-servation-of-volume and separation-of-variables tasks and the Islands Puzzle test with the achievement test on concrete and abstract objectives at the 0.01 level level of confidence (see table 14). The results of multiple correlation analysis indicated that there was a significant multiple correlation between Piagetian tasks and each part of the achievement test for concrete or abstract level objectives.
3. The results have also supported the assumption that formal operational students performed better on the achievement of educational objectives, particularly those at the abstract level, than concrete operational students. The results were according to developmental levels :
a. Subjects classified as early concrete operational (IIa) performed poorly on the part of the achieve-ment test for abstract objectives. Scores on questions on abstract level objectives, after correction for guessing, were less than seven per cent of questions answered correctly. On the same abstract level, scores obtained by subjects classified as transitional concrete operational (IIa to IIb) indicated less than 15 per cent were correctly answered. Subjects categorized as late concrete operational level demonstrated somewhat better ability than the ones above, but their scores indicated that less than 30 per cent of the questions were answered correctly (see figure 3).
b. Subjects classified as early formal operational (IIIa) performed much better on the test of abstract objectives than those in concrete opera-tional levels (IIa, transitional, and IIb). The early formal operational students were able to answer 70 per cent of the questions correctly on the abstract level objectives (see figure 3). This result indicates that subjects who at least reach the early formal operational level can achieve abstract objectives.
In comparing differences in mean scores among different levels of cognitive development, the results of the t-test were consistent with the above result (see table 15). This indicates that an increase in the percentage of abstract objectives achieved cognitive developmental thinking levels. Therefore, formal operational thinking patterns are important factors for successful science learning. The result of the x2-test supported this conclusion (see table 18).
4. The results have supported the premise that three Piagetian interview tasks and three Piagetian-style written tests might measure the same psychological parameter.
Of three Piagetian tasks, conservation of volume, equilibrium in the balance, and separation of variables, in addition to the three Piagetian-style written tests, ratio, Islands Puzzle and How's Your Logic, that were used to assess the formal operational thinking patterns of the subjects, the factor analysis showed that the six tasks had factorial validity and that they all were loaded substantially on the first principal component. Correlations (see table 8) obtained indicated that all six tasks measured basically the same psychological parameter. This result is consistent with Piaget's theoretical position that formal operational thought is constructed and regulated by what Piaget calls the "structure deensemble" or structured wholeness (Piaget, 1970).
5. It was concluded that Piagetian-style written tests, ratio and How's Your Logic, could be used as tools to measure the intellectual developmental levels of students as determined by Piaget. It was also concluded that ratio and How's Your Logic tests could be used as the best predictors of success on abstract and concrete level objectives, respectively.
The result of the 95 per cent confidence intervals for the predictors showed the ratio test to be the best single predictor of success on the achievement of abstract objectives. This result also indicated that the How's Your Logic test was the best predictor of success on the achievement of concrete objectives.

DISCUSSION
First of all, the results obtained by using principal component analysis indicate that the ratio test is as reliable in assessing the cognitive developmental levels as the three Piagetian tasks. The results further indicate that the ratio test is the best single predictor of the achievement of abstract objectives. However, this result contradicts what other researchers have reported. For example, Lawson (1973) argued that the ration test was unreliable as a measure of cognitive developmental levels of students.
Such a contrast may be associated with the following possibilities:
1. The ratio test may be dependable for groups of various ages. For example, the average age of students used in Lawson's study was 16.7 years, while that of the students used in this study was 14.6 years. The difference in age between the two groups of students studied is two years.
2. The test may have weaknesses in discriminating levels such as early formal and late formal operational, since there are only three questions included in the test. The last question is available in discriminating between two formal levels. For example, a large number of students in Lawson's study (58.3%) were identified as formal operational, including early, transitional, and late formal operational, while a relatively small number of students in this study (22%) were at the formal operational level (including early and transitional from early to late formal). So in this study it was unnecessary to discriminate early and late formal operational, whereas the other study needed to do this.
Next, according to multiple regression analysis, the results obtained in this study indicate that the ratio test is the best single independent variable in predicting success on the achievement of abstract objectives. In contrast, however, Lawson (1973) reported the separation of variables task to be the best single predictor to success on the abstract content test in physics. Since ration test scores were excluded in Lawson's analysis, it was impossible to directly compare the two results. However, the separation of variables task was not the best single independent predictor in this study.

RECOMMENDATIONS
First of all, evidence suggests that seventy-eight per sent of the second year students in the middle school do not reach the formal operational level. In other words, the majority of the students do not have formal operational required for them to handle abstract knowledge. However, a large portion of science content being dealt with in the middle school does require the formal operations in order for them to understand.
For example, in Chapter one (Atoms and Molecules) of the science textbook, 12 of 17 objectives identified are at an abstract level, so these objectives cannot be achieved by the students who do not have formal operations. It is evident that the student at a concrete operational level cannot handle the hypothetical models of atoms and molecules. Therefore, this chapter should be considered for omission or replacement by other topics available to those concrete operational students.
Also, a large portion of Chapter Three (Electric Energy) of the textbook does require formal operations, particularly proportionality or ratio. Evidence indicates that the majority of the students have failed to answer correctly questions presented in mathematical formulas related to proportionality. This suggests that large portions of Chapter three are improper in terms of a mode of representation. Therefore, the mode of representation of science concepts included in Chapter Three should be reconsidered for change. In other words, the science content should be presented in a basic idea that can be understood by the students through their own activities, rather than in a mathematical formula that can be understood through formal operational thinking.
Secondly, besides the three chapters dealt with in this study, the other chapters of the book should be re-evaluated in terms of students' intellectual developmental levels by following the procedures used in this study.
Thirdly, evidence suggests that the ratio test used to measure the levels of cognitive development of students can be used as the best single predictor for the achievement of concrete objectives. Evidence also indicates that the How's Your Logic test can be used as the best single predictor to the achievement of concrete objectives. These two tests are designed in written responses rather than oral, so they can be used with groups of students. Piagetian tasks used to assess the levels of cognitive development are designed for individual oral responses. Consequently, Piagetian tasks have two complicated problems :
1. Each interview must be conducted with each student individually, so the usage is very limited to mass education situations. It usually takes a lot of time for a teacher or researcher to conduct interviews with many students in a class. In a practical situation, interviews have to be conducted with a large number of students at a time.
2. The analysis of responses is very limited to a teacher or a person who is less or not oriented with Piaget's cognitive development work. In other words, the analysis requires a skill to analyze the responses that most classroom teachers will probably not possess.
Instead, the two written test help ease the problem.
Therefore, it is recommended that these two tests be used as tools to assess the levels of the student's cognitive development if the administering of Piagetian interview tasks is impossible.
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78-1481

The Florida State University,
Ph.D., 1977
Education, sciences

Xerox University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106

VITA
Jong Ha Han was born in Gang-Neung city on December 11, 1939 and raised and educated in Seoul, Korea.
He majored in Physics at the undergraduate school in 1958-1962, and studied educational psychology at the graduate school of Seoul National University in 1966-1968. He earned the B.A. and M.A. degrees from the university.
Jong Han had been working as a researcher for Central Educational Research Institute for several years, and has been working for Korean Educational Development Institute for four years.
He is married with Ryeung-Ja Chung and has two children. He is working as a senior researcher in charge of science education division, for Korean Educational Development Institute.
In August 1977 Dr. Han awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Program of Science and Human Affairs at the Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A.
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"학위 논문 요약" 투고 요청
한국인으로 외국에서 과학교육학 논문으로 박사학위 하신 분은 영문과 국문 요약을 투고 해 주시고, 또 이 요약에 대해 여러분께서는 건설적인 토론의 글을 올려 주시기 바랍니다.
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