Science inquiry skills of pre-service teachers at Universiti Brunie Darussalam and their correlates

Sub Title:

Author: Segumpan, Reynaldo G.

Accession Number: 688D

Class No: 507.6

Author No: Se39

Copyright Year: 1998

Abstract:

This research assessed the science inquiry skills of the pre-service teachers of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Negara Brunei Darussalam who are in their final academic year in the university during the 1997-1998 academic session. In particular, this study sought answers to the following questions: 1. What is the pre-service teachers' competency level in the following science inquiry skills: (a) Basic skills - observing, classifying, comparing, measuring, quantifying, and recognizing and using space/time relation, and (b) Integrated skills - inferring, predicting, formulating hypothesis, interpreting data, controlling variables, and experimenting? 2. Are there significant relationships between science inquiry skills and (a) inquiry skill training hours, (b) gender, (c) attitude towards science learning, (d) science process teaching orientation, and (e) science content teaching orientation? 3. Are there significant differences in the science inquiry skills of the subjects when they are grouped according to (a) inquiry skill training hours, (b) gender, (c) attitude towards science learning, (d) science process teaching orientation, and (e) science content teaching orientation? Based on the problems, it was hypothesised that there are no significant relationships and differences between science process skills and inquiry skill training hours, gender, attitude towards science learning, science process teaching orientation, and science content teaching orientation. The descriptive-correlational approach was employed with all the 100 pre-service teachers as the subjects of the study. Twenty-four of the subjects are males and 76 are females distributed into programme types as follows: Certificate in Education - 55, B.A. Primary Education - 20, and B.Sc. Education - 25. The data needed were gathered using a test, two questionnaires, through an interview, and data from university handbook and records. Specifically, a 60-item Science Inquiry Skills Test (SIST) was constructed in assessing the competency level of the subjects in the basic and the integrated science inquiry skills. The Cronbach alpha reliability of the test was .8784. The first questionnaire, the Science Learning Attitude Scale (SLAS), was a 20-item instrument utilised in ascertaining the subjects' general attitude towards the learning of science. The Cronbach alpha reliability of the SLAS was .8537. The other questionnaire, composed of 20 items, was called the Science Teaching Orientation Questionnaire (STOQ) which determined the process-content science teaching orientations of the subjects. The reported Cronbach alpha reliabilities of the STOQ were .8256 for "process" items and .7765 for content items. A non-structured interview schedule was prepared to obtain information about science teacher education at the Universiti Brunie Darussalam from lecturers involved in the teacher education programmes. The data gathered were analysed and interpreted using means, standard deviations, medians, Cronbach alpha, Eta, Pearson Product-Moment Correlation, t-test, analysis of variance (ANOVA), multiple classification analysis (MCA), and stepwise multiple regression analysis. When some relevant demographic characteristics of the pre-service subjects were examined, it was found that the science background of the pre-service teachers ranged from 3 to 64 unit credits with those in the B.Sc. Education programme having the highest science background (19 units and above). On the other hand, those in the Certificate in Education and B.A. primary Education programmes had science background between 3 to 9 units. The inquiry skill training hours provided for the whole education programme was between 28 to 1624 hours depending on the programme in which the subjects are enrolled in. The performance of the subjects in the over-all science inquiry skills was average based on the category established using an equal interval scale. When categorised into basic and integrated skills, the subjects showed average competency level in the basic science inquiry skills and poor competency level in the integrated science inquiry skills. Across the basic science inquiry skills, the subjects displayed above average performance in observing, measuring, and quantifying while they showed an average performance in comparing, recognising/using time/space relation, and classifying. With respect to the integrated science inquiry skills, it was found that they had average competency level in formulating hypothesis, interpreting data, and inferring while their competency level in experimenting, controlling variables, and predicting was poor. When taken together, the order of the subjects' competency levels in the science inquiry skills is as follows: observing> measuring> quantifying> comparing> recognising/using space/time relation> classifying> formulating hypothesis> interpreting data> inferring> predicting> controlling variables> experimenting. Significant relationships existed between the subjects basic, integrated, and over-all science inquiry skills and (a) inquiry skill training hours, (b) science learning attitude, and (c) science content teaching orientation. Moreover, the findings revealed significant differences in the (a) basic, integrated, and over-all science inquiry skills and inquiry skill training hours, in favor of those having "high" exposure to inquiry skill training hours (140 hours and above) than those who had "moderate" (112-139.00 hours) and less exposure (119 and below; (b) basic integrated, and over-all science inquiry skills and attitude towards science learning, in favor of those in the "high" and "moderate" categories than those in the "low" group; and (c) basic and over-all science inquiry skills and science content teaching orientation, in favor of those in the "low" group than in the "high" group. Nearly fifty percent (46%) of the over-all variance in the basic science inquiry skills could be attributed to inquiry skill training hours and attitude towards science learning, with inquiry skill training hours yielding 41.2% and science learning attitude, 4.8%. Only the variable inquiry skills training hours was not removed in the stepwise multiple regression analysis, contributing 22.6 percent of the variance in the integrated science inquiry skills. On the over-all science inquiry skills, 38.8% of the variance can be explained by inquiry skills training hours and 2.6%, by attitude towards science learning. Based on the results of the research, the following conclusions are formulated: 1. The pre-service teachers at the Universiti Brunie Darussalam are proficient in the basic science inquiry skills, specifically in observing, measuring, and quantifying. This indicates that the subjects acquired and demonstrated considerable knowledge of the basic science inquiry skills which they were able to utilise in assessing, analysing, and performing science inquiry tasks. The finding supports the literature that pre-service teachers can acquire and develop basic science inquiry skills without much efforts and demand for deliberate study because the basic science processes of observing, measuring, quantifying, among others, are not as difficult and complicated as the integrated science processes. 2. In the integrated science inquiry skills, the subjects displayed inadequacies in their competent level, especially in experimenting, controlling variables, and predicting. These are the higher-order thinking skills where the subjects encountered difficulties. The results showed that the subjects were not adept in identifying conditions that might modify, alter, or change an experiment. Likewise, their skill on anticipating future events or circumstances in scientific investigations has not been adequate to enable them perform well in the integrated or advanced science inquiry tasks. 3. Gender and science process teaching orientation are not significantly related to basic, integrated, and over-all science inquiry skills. This denotes that these variables do not significantly influence of contribute to the pre-service teachers' science inquiry skills, be basic, integrated, or over-all science inquiry skills. 4. There were significant differences in the basic, integrated, and over-all science inquiry skillsof the subjects when they were grouped according to inquiry skill training hours, in favor of those in the "high" category than those in the "moderate" and "low" categories; science learning attitude, in favor of those in the "high" and "moderate" groups than in the "low" group; and basic and over-all science inquiry skills and science content teaching orientation, in favor of those who had "low" orientation than those who had "high" orientation. In other words, grouping the pre-service teachers into the aforementioned categories would significantly result in different competency levels in the science inquiry processes. 5. Inquiry skills training hours and attitude towards science learning are the variables that could essentially explain the variance in the basic and the over-all science inquiry skills; however, only inquiry skill training hours considerably contribute to integrated science inquiry skills. Attempts should be made to change a number of the pre-service teachers' negative or unfavorable attitude towards science learning. Efforts should be made in providing more and varied opportunities for the students to design and conduct experiments, control variables, and predict events that might occur in a scientific investigation as well as in making logical hypothesis, inferences, and interpretation of data. For future research, other factors not included in this study which might correlate with science inquiry skills such as entry level qualifications and study habits, lecturers' competency, attitude, among others, should be explored on. Experimental and exploratory researches on the developments of the students' science inquiry skills, in science content-oriented and in process-oriented courses or curricula are also recommended. In addition, the science inquiry processes, especially the integrated or advanced ones, should be given appreciable attention in instruction and during practical investigations. Finally, re-examination and further analysis of the reliability and validity of the research tools is recommended to establish wider applicability.


Keywords: Science inquiry skills of pre-service teachers

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