B.Ed. Teaching Notes
Lecturer in Physical Science, Arafa Institute for Teacher Education
Relevant Sections of KCF 2007-Science Education
Science Education in Kerala is facing a number of challenges. We are not able to device a suitable approach for the learning of science and to accommodate latest development and trends in the field. The experiments that are given in the prevailing textbooks are not indented to make the learner discover facts and they also limit the scope for enquiry. The relevance of doing experiments and observations is either lost or undermined by the practice of giving in the textbook all the details that are to be explored. This decreases the interest of the learner and the scope for enquiry. Life around us is more complex and different than what we see in our textbooks. In fact, science education does not help in fostering the competency for analyzing and discussing possibilities for solving problems that the individual and the society face. It also fails in creating even the right attitude that is required for solving a problem. There is no scope for developing scientific awareness. Science fails to become an enabling area of study if the learner does not get access to the process of learning science such as observation, data collection, data analysis, arriving at conclusions etc. A learner, like a scientist, should get opportunities to engage in different projects and to be familiarized with the process of scientific enquiry.
Major criticisms leveled against the prevailing science education
The major criticisms leveled against the prevailing science education may include:
1) There is a belief that the aim of science education is to transmit knowledge that has already been gathered
2) The learning process is neither process-oriented nor learner-centred, thus the learners do not have the opportunity to engage in learning activities and construct knowledge.
3) There is a tendency to promote rote learning of concepts in science to excel in examination.
4) The innate curiosity and scientific temperament of the learner are yet to find space.
5) Examination centric textbooks and learning process.
6) Incongruence between the content, and the level of the learner.
7) Scientific temperament and science literacy are not addressed adequately.
8) Learning of science fails to become interesting and challenging to the learner.
9) Construction of knowledge has not been duly recognized.
10) Science education has yet to become life related.
11) Mechanisms for empowering learners in the pedagogic practices are yet to be strengthened.
12) The assessment of effectiveness of teaching science is completely neglected.
Aims of Science Education
The main aim of science education is to equip a student with a scientific mind which will enable him/her to deal with the problems logically and to take decisions. Along with these, it is necessary to take into account the interests and aptitudes of the learners while designing the curriculum.
The aims of science education include:
1) Development of scientific temperament and its application in daily life.
2) Engagement in scientific methods like observation, experimentation, data collection, interpretation of data, analysis, theorising, examining for construction of knowledge.
3) Nurturing the ability to examine scientifically the problems of daily life as well as social issues and seeking logical solutions.
4) Recognising and developing one’s own interests and abilities in technical and vocational fields.
5) Encouraging the development of logical thinking
6) Imbibing a humanistic outlook and developing a world view based on it.
7) Recognising the importance of understanding historical development of ideas.
8) Nurturing lateral thinking ability for enabling the learners to look at things from different perspectives and to seek new solutions.
9) Developing scientific literacy that provides for building awareness of scientific process.
The approach of science education has to be changed to achieve the aims stated above. The idea that process of learning science is as important as the content of science came to the scene. But now importance is given to the view that there are other areas to be considered apart from process and content. They are:
1) Knowledge Domain
Every student of science ought to be aware of the latest theories and developments in the field of science. This accounts for facts, ideas, laws, the present status of learning and the correlation of science and social issues. These could be accomplished by observation and experiment, discussion, debate, project work and reference.
2) Science Process Domain
This area helps to understand how scientists construct knowledge and how the learner can do it by himself/herself. A process could be defined as a series of steps that aim at a particular result. The ability to identify new ideas and analyze them to reach a conclusion is termed as process skills. Process skills are developed by collecting ideas and proof and by arriving at conclusions after deeper analysis.
There are certain process skills that the learner have to possess in order to engage in scientific study. They are:
• data collection and documentation
• measurement and charting
• data analysis
• engaging in experiments
• identifying variables
• problem solving
• arriving at a hypothesis
• predicting and inferring
• handling tools
3) Creativity Domain
The learner should be given chances to explore new paths in the acquisition of scientific knowledge. The learner should:
• develop the potential for visualization
• develop the skill to design an experiment
• correlate ideas and facts in a new manner
• find an alternative utility for materials
• find answers for problems and puzzles
• start fantasizing
• design tools and equipment
• start dreaming
• think differently
4) Attitudinal Domain
The essential aim of science education is to create a change in attitude and develop new ideas regarding values. Even after acquiring new ideas and process skills, if there is no change in the learner's attitude towards the society, science education will have no practical meaning. Science education should try to bring in a change in aspects like attitude, values and decision-making. Therefore, science education has to take into consideration these aspects as well:
• The learner ought to develop an inclination towards scientific knowledge and science education
• He/she should develop faith in one’s ability
• He/she ought to understand and value human emotions
• He/she ought to be sympathetic to the others and their attitude
5) Application Domain
If the learner is not able to apply the knowledge that he/she has gathered, there is no meaning in imparting science education. If the practical level of science education could not be related to life, the learner will not find it to be of any significance.
The elements of Application Domain are:
• observing science concepts in daily life.
• making use of the concepts and skills that are imbibed for solving issues related to technology.
• forming ideas about the scientific principles behind the working of tools and equipment used at home.
• making use of the process of science to solve the issues in daily life.
• developing ability to evaluate the events related to science.
• taking scientific decisions in matters of food, health and life style.
• developing an inter-disciplinary approach.
The Nature of Science and Science Education
By interacting with the society, a child develops a variety of notions about the nature of science. The personal experience of the learner through suitable learning activities provides him/her proper awareness on this. A mere learning of scientific ideas and theories will not enable the learner to understand the nature of science. Acquisition of scientific ideas will not, by themselves, develop a scientific perspective.
Experiences that facilitate this should be provided to the learner right from the beginning of his/her schooling.
At the beginning stage, the student should go through concrete experiences that help him/her get acquainted with various aspects of nature. This does not mean that the curriculum should avoid abstract ideas. A learner who goes through a proper learning experience would gradually gain processing skills and the ability to internalize abstract ideas.
A learner who possesses the spirit of enquiry should be encouraged to discuss and share his/her findings with the peer group. This will enable the learner to internalize the concrete experiences and to assimilate the abstract ideas.
Presenting scientific facts through textbooks or lectures is not a suitable method for science education. At every point during the lesson the student should feel like asking 'How do you know that is right?' It is only when such questions arise that the curriculum and the textbook and the teaching are justified.
Areas of science education that need to be evaluated
The traditional method of class tests is not sufficient to evaluate the child. All the abilities of the child should be subjected to evaluation. Multiple choice questions are not suitable to evaluate mental processing of the highest order. The following elements have to be considered while evaluating the learner:
• Learners should not be evaluated fully by the written mode of examination. Skills developed by the process of science education including the ability to do experiments should be evaluated
• The relevance of multiple choice questions in evaluating science learning has been widely criticized. They are inadequate to evaluate the higher order mental processes
• Evaluation should give importance to assessing performance in which skills of the hands and the mind are at work
• In science education, it is difficult to separate the process of evaluation from the teaching-learning process
The following areas of science education need to be evaluated:
• the process of experimentation and observation
• skills that exhibit a scientific temperament
• outdoor activities
• the use of library
• co-operative tests
• concept mapping
• problem solving
• debate/group discussions.
Lecturer in Physical Science, Arafa Institute for Teacher Education