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Science, Environment & Agriculture

 

 

List of Papers for Theme E:
Research on science, environmental and agricultural education

(Click on the author's name to go to the abstract.)

Author(s) Paper
B. T. Dlamini The reaction of primary school teachers to the development and use of a technological approach to teaching science : A proposal for research
P. P. Fakudze &
K. J. B. Keregero
Factors influencing the choice of research problems as perceived by degree students in the Faculty of Agriculture
S. Manyatsi, J. Bradley &
M. Rollnick
The Junior-Senior Secondary Gap in Swaziland Science: Macro Or Micro?
B. L. Moorlong The "woman farmer" and extension services delivery system as a process of ensuring improved quality of life through education
M. Mosothwane Environmental education policy and planning in Botswana: the basis for environmental quality and sustainable development
N. N. Nzalo
& K. J. B. Keregero
Critical considerations in the provision of quality agricultural education in Swaziland
M. Rollnick, S. Zwane,
M. Staskun & G. Green
An action research approach to finding a connection between pre lab synopses and successful laboratory report writing.
M. Rollnick, S. Manyatsi
& G. Green
Language, culture or disadvantage - what is at the heart of successful student adjustment to tertiary science courses?
B. J. Simelane
& M. J. Simelane
Attitude of O’level agriculture students towards doing O'level agriculture investigatory projects
A. H. U. Talukdar An analysis of COSC Examination in the Kingdom of Lesotho
A. H. U. Talukdar Students' misconception in Ohm's law: A preliminary investigation of the Pre-entry and the Agriculture education students of the National University of Lesotho
N. J. Vreken & J. Rens Environmental education: a training programme for student teachers

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Author: Betty T. Dlamini, University of the Witwatersrand

Title: The reaction of primary school teachers to the development and use of a technological approach to teaching science: A proposal for research

The study proposed here will investigate the reaction of teachers to change from a content driven approach to teaching science to that which utilizes science, technology and society (STS) structures.

The proposal presents the following: the conceptions of change, relevance, STS and in-service; a review of studies done in many countries abroad and in Africa dealing the introduction of change in science education and its effects on teachers; models of curriculum writing and reform; models for presenting qualitative information.

Also presented in the paper for interaction and input is the proposed methodology for the study and the data collecting strategies and the proposed data analysis strategies.

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Author: P. P. Fakudze & A/Prof. K. J. B. Keregero, Agricultural Education & Extension, University of Swaziland

Title: Factors influencing the choice of research problems as perceived by degree students in the Faculty of Agriculture

In Agriculture, research is considered as a critical and exhaustive investigation that is expected to unveil new facts that directly, or otherwise, could have impact on quality of life. This study sought to: determine the perceptions of completing degree students regarding factors that influenced their choice of research problems; find out if there was any statistically significant difference in perceptions between those who did research-related courses and those who did not; and describe the relationship between perceptions of respondents and their age and working experience.

The study was a descriptive survey, utilising a questionnaire that was specifically designed for the purpose. Content validity of the instrument was established by using feedback from six research supervisors and internal consistency by pilot testing, using 30 randomly selected students in he Fourth Year who had already selected their research problems. Frame and selection errors were controlled. The response rate was 83% and data were analysed using means, standard deviations, correlations and analysis of variance.

The findings indicated that the choice of research problems by completing degree students is influenced by factors related to the research itself, the researcher, respondents, supervision and courses taught. There was no statistically significant difference in perceptions regarding factors influencing the choice of research problems between students who took research-related courses and those who did not. The perceptions of respondents did not vary with their age and working experience.

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Authors: Sabelo Manyatsi, John Bradley and Marissa Rollnick, Chemistry Department, University of the Witwatersrand

Title: The Junior-Senior Secondary Gap in Swaziland Science: Macro Or Micro?

In educational systems stake-holders frequently identify a gap between two levels of the system. This study was carried out in Swaziland at the junior secondary/senior secondary interface. The aim was to identify the nature and extent of the gap between junior secondary science and senior secondary chemistry.

To investigate the gap at the macro level, we analysed written official sources such as curriculum materials, syllabuses and past examination papers. Investigation of the gap at the micro level focused on two aspects: the knowledge possessed by the pupils and the teaching styles employed by teachers in class. For knowledge, four chemistry teachers were interviewed on their expectations of junior secondary graduates. Also, a diagnostic test was administered covering four chemistry topics. To study teaching styles, six teachers were observed. The results of the micro level analysis informed the design of a teaching package then tried by the three chemistry teachers who were observed for their teaching styles.

The findings were as follows:

There is no gap between the syllabuses and curriculum materials of the two levels.

The senior secondary exam, in contrast to the J.C. exam, is balanced and tests all the cognitive levels.

Teachers at both levels employ basically similar teaching styles.

Junior and senior secondary teachers employ low cognitive level questions in both in teaching and testing.

A conceptual teaching approach can improve the understanding of the particulate nature of matter.

Detailed teaching materials may influence the teaching approach of teachers.

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Author: B. L. Morolong, Institute of Extra-Mural Studies (IEMS) NUL

Title: The "woman farmer" and extension services delivery system as a process of ensuring improved quality of life through education

This paper critiques the universalisation of the concept of "farmer" as applied in the extension delivery system and alongside this it introduces the concept of "Woman Farmer." It argues that the concept farmer masks who actually the farmer is. It goes on to note that as a result of this, the woman farmer was or still is not understood in terms of her educational and information needs.

The woman farmer's participation in decision making, her access to and control over resources, including farming technology, as well as her triple-role in development are outlined. Surveyed extensively in this paper are the specific areas in which the extension delivery system as an educational process has marginalised and disadvantaged the woman farmer and thereby limiting her ability to contribute in the enhancement of the quality of life for all. A further similar critique is advanced on the systems failure to promote gender disaggregation in extension services information and statistical reporting and in activities and benefits of development programmes.

This paper makes suggestions on how the extension delivery system can first be perceived as an educational process (which it is) and be planned and conducted as such. The conclusion of the paper focuses on strategies that should be employed in order to acknowledge the woman farmer's central role in the overall processes and efforts of enhancing the quality of life for all.

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Author: Modise Mosothwane, University of Botswana

Title: Environmental education policy and planning in Botswana: the basis for environmental quality and sustainable development

The 1980s in Botswana witnessed an escalation of environmental problems associated with gains in technological and industrial developments. These environmental problems are to a large extent blamed on environmental policies and planning that are not enforced.

This paper articulates environmental policies and legislation covering environmental protection in Botswana and argues for their enforcement. The paper also describes environmental problems in Botswana and how enforcement of the legislation could have prevented the occurrence of some of the problems.

The paper argues that although environmental quality has become a matter of public concern, environmental education policy in Botswana is lacking. Educators have the task of developing an environmental education policy that would raise the environmental literacy of the public. Such a programme should equip the public with skills, expertise, experiences that would enhance environmental quality and improve the quality of life of the people.

The paper suggests that environmental problems should be studied using indigenous knowledge to facilitate the implementation of environmental policies. The paper suggests that a participatory process model be used to solve environmental problems since the model will act as transformation agent for better environmental education policy and development. The paper also suggests other models that could be used in developing environmental education policies to raise the environmental literacy of public in Botswana.

The paper suggests that in all government policies and planning, emphasis should be on environmental education because it is the basis for environmental quality. The paper argues for the development of a strong environmental education programme for non-formal education sector as a means to expose the public to policies and legislation because it will enable citizens to read environmental legislation with understanding. Finally, the paper suggests the development of a multi-discliplinary environmental education programme for the formal education sector at all levels in the education system in Botswana in which policies and legislation will form part of the curriculum.

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Authors: N. N. Nzalo & A/Prof. K. J. B. Keregero, Agricultural Education & Extension, University of Swaziland

Title: Critical considerations in the provision of quality agricultural education in Swaziland

Educators and policy makers continue to grapple with the question: What kind of education in agriculture has a better chance of contributing effectively towards the preparation of the youth in Swaziland for the promotion of a better quality of life? A study was conducted to examine the beliefs held by agricultural educators regarding quality Agricultural Education in terms of objectives, learning, the learner, teaching and the teacher.

A qualitative research design was employed, utilising the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). The population constituted a purposively selected sample of agricultural educators: 10 academic staff of the University of Swaziland, eight administrators of agricultural education, and 11 teachers of agriculture in schools. Data were content analysed and presented using frequencies, percentages and value scores.

The distribution of belief items according to five predetermined belief domains was as follows: teacher (75), objectives (58), teaching (53), learning (51), and learner (45). Participants believed that the teacher ought to possess appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes; innovativeness and inquisitiveness; practical acumen, and willingness to work hard. They believed that objectives of Agricultural Education should centre around enabling students to acquire relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes; and preparing them for higher education and career opportunities. Their beliefs about teaching centred around practical orientation, demonstration, dialogue and problem solving.

The learning process was perceived as being student centred, practical and project oriented, teacher guided, experiential, dynamic and flexible. Respondents believed that the learner ought to have interest, motivation, aptitude, commitment and physical ability. The findings generally pointed to the need to re-examine Agricultural Education in the country in light of changing needs and current national aspirations regarding the promotion of better quality of life.

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Authors: Marissa Rollnick, Sabelo Manyatsi and Gail Green, Chemistry Department, University of the Witwatersrand

Title: Language, culture or disadvantage - what is at the heart of successful student adjustment to tertiary science courses?

This study is a small part of a larger project on student adjustment to tertiary education in South Africa. It examines factors affecting the ability of under prepared students on an access course and mainstream students' ability to cope with chemistry courses. Many factors have been put forward as at the heart of problems experienced by these students, amongst them, language, culture, and various aspects of disadvantage, such as nature of their schooling and economic factors associated with their conditions of study. The main purpose of this study is to find out what issues are most important in determining student success in studying chemistry at Wits.

A questionnaire was administered to under prepared students and mainstream chemistry majors. The analysis of these questionnaires was used to select students for in depth case studies, commencing with interviews based on their responses to the questionnaire.

The analysis of the questionnaires reveals some interesting trends, not previously identified as bridging students in the past have been studied on their own. Some differences found between the two groups were on whether they were the first members of their family to attend tertiary institutions, when they began learning solely through the medium of English and how many reported having seen experiments at school.

Some interesting findings from the interviews are presented on language and study skills and on differences and similarities between the two groups of students. Students coming to university find that they have to learn English for academic purposes, but also have to learn a second African language to be accepted into the social milieu.

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Authors: Marissa Rollnick, Stella Zwane, Mina Staskun and Gall Green, Chemistry Department, University of the Witwatersrand

Title: An action research approach to finding a connection between pre lab synopses and successful laboratory report writing.

One of the biggest obstacles to success in laboratories for first year students is lack of pre laboratory preparation. Students who have not adequately prepared laboratories find themselves crowded by the procedural aspects of the practical and unable to access the conceptual knowledge needed. They fail to appreciate the meaning of the message of the experiment. This situation is aggravated for students who are learning chemistry through a second language.

In this study, students were obliged to submit a pre laboratory synopsis before being allowed to continue with their laboratory exercise. We studied the performance of students in two courses - one, an access course for under prepared students and the other, a normal first year chemistry major group. The students were studied over two practicals by collecting their synopses, their laboratory reports and details of their academic record. A detailed record of the lab was also kept by one of the researchers.

The synopses were analysed for conceptual, procedural and language content and then compared to the laboratory reports which were also analysed in a similar manner. These were then triangulated with themes emerging from the records kept during the laboratories.

Some findings emerging are that what students include in reports is varied in both style and content. These findings are being used to inform changes in the current laboratory course. The changes are being tracked through field notes made during the laboratory sessions, and further analysis of laboratory reports.

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Author: Mr. Bongani J. Simelane and Dr. M. J. Simelane, Agricultural Education & Extension, University of Swaziland

Title: Attitude of O’level agriculture students towards doing O'level agriculture investigatory projects.

The primary purpose of the study was to determine the attitudes of Form V agriculture students towards doing agriculture investigatory projects The specific objectives were: Their teachers influence on the students attitudes, the impact of doing projects as influencing their attitude as well as to find the relationship between students selected demographic characteristics (sex, age, place of residence and school location). Data were collected using a self administered questionnaire in all O'level agriculture schools in the Shiselweni District. The study was descriptive in nature. The data were summarised and tabulated as frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations. A further use of Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-test) statistics were used to assist in interpreting the results.

Regardless of the differences in the location of school, sex of students, their age and their place of residence, students had favourable attitudes towards doing investigatory projects. Teachers have positively influenced students attitudes. Agriculture investigatory projects as an introductory to research had developed favourable attitudes of students. The conclusion drawn was that students had positive attitude towards Agriculture investigatory projects. It was recommended that the agriculture subject be given more time in the time table and schools should increase the number of animal houses.

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Author: Dr. A. H. U. Talukdar, Department of Science Education, National University of Lesotho

Title: Students' misconception in Ohm's law: A preliminary investigation of the Pre-entry and the Agriculture education students of the National University of Lesotho

At present the quality of our life very much depends on the extent of utilisation of discovery of science. Ohm's law has revolutionised the use of electricity at our home and industry. Any research aiming at it has direct bearings on the quality of our life.

This study tested the knowledge of Ohm's law of 203 university students by asking them to solve a numerical problem. Only 20 students could solve it correctly.

Students understand Ohm's Law only as an equation involving three variables: given the values of any two, the third can be found by solving the equation. This is not the correct concept of the law. In many popular textbooks the law is not properly explained either. The study tried to give a preliminary explanation for the reason of such incorrect understanding, pending further investigation.

 

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Author: Dr. A. H. U. Talukdar, Department of Science Education, National University of Lesotho

Title: An analysis of COSC Examination in the Kingdom of Lesotho

The quality of life in a country is related to its scientific capability which greatly depends on its human resources employed in the economy, with appropriate skills and knowledge in science and technology. The quality of performance in examination, among other things, can indicate the status of human resource development in a country. Thus, any research in pupils' performances in science and science related subjects will have affects on the quality of life in our society.

This paper analyses the trend of performance of pupils in science and other related subjects at COSC examination in Lesotho during a period of more than one and a half decade. Also an attempt is made to determine the popularity of each of the subjects indicated above.

The study reveals that the overall performance of pupils in science subjects at COSC examination has been improving but the performance in English has been declining. The performance in mathematics has neither been improving nor declining. Among the separate science subjects, biology is the most chosen whereas physics and chemistry are the most unpopular subjects in Lesotho.

 

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Authors: Prof. Nic. J. Vreken & Mrs. Julialet Rens, Potchefstroom University for CHE

Title: Environmental education: a training programme for student teachers

Environmental Education has been accepted globally and in virtually every country. This movement started at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which recommended that every nation should promote such programmes. In South Africa the debate is still on how to integrate Environmental Education into the school curriculum.

But in the meantime government requires that all teacher education programmes should provide students with 'knowledge of the social and biophysical aspects of the environment". For this reason Environmental Education is included in the training programme for student teachers (HED) at the Potchefstroom University.

We endeavour to train our students so that they develop a positive attitude towards environmental education, are able to integrate the different aspects of environmental education into the teaching of their school subjects and to successfully plan and carry out environmental projects. This paper will outline the programme we follow.

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This Web Site was edited and produced by Professor Stewart Marshall
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Copyright 1998 Institute of Distance Education and authors of papers
Last modified:  26-Apr-99