A comparison of the effects of social constructivist and traditional approaches to teaching on students' attitude and achievement in high school chemistry

Pooran Latchman, Florida International University

Abstract

Current views of the nature of knowledge and of learning suggest that instructional approaches in science education pay closer attention to how students learn rather than on teaching. This study examined the use of approaches to teaching science based on two contrasting perspectives in learning, social constructivist and traditional, and the effects they have on students' attitudes and achievement. Four categories of attitudes were measured using the Upper Secondary Attitude Questionnaire: Attitude towards school, towards the importance of science, towards science as a career, and towards science as a subject in school. Achievement was measured by average class grades and also with a researcher/teacher constructed 30-item test that involved three sub-scales of items based on knowledge, and applications involving near-transfer and far-transfer of concepts. The sample consisted of 202 students in nine intact classrooms in chemistry at a large high school in Miami, Florida, and involved two teachers. Results were analyzed using a two-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with a pretest in attitude as the covariate for attitudes and prior achievement as the covariate for achievement. A comparison of the adjusted mean scores was made between the two groups and between females and males. ^ With constructivist-based teaching, students showed more favorable attitude towards science as a subject, obtained significantly higher scores in class achievement, total achievement and achievement on the knowledge sub-scale of the knowledge and application test. Students in the traditional group showed more favorable attitude towards school. Females showed significantly more positive attitude towards the importance of science and obtained significantly higher scores in class achievement. No significant interaction effects were obtained for method of instruction by gender. ^ This study lends some support to the view that constructivist-based approaches to teaching science is a viable alternative to traditional modes of teaching. It is suggested that in science education, more consideration be given to those aspects of classroom teaching that foster closer coordination between social influences and individual learning. ^

Subject Area

Education, Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Pooran Latchman, "A comparison of the effects of social constructivist and traditional approaches to teaching on students' attitude and achievement in high school chemistry" (January 1, 2000). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI9977472.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI9977472

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