Adults’ Understandings and Retention of Selected School Science Concepts: Implications for School Science Curriculum and Effective Classroom Practice

By Samuel Ouma Oyoo, Dominic Okoth Adipo, Rosemary Muteitsi Maina, Benedetta Mwikali Malusi and Bakari Issa.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Research on understandings as well as retention of school science concepts has often been targeted at school age persons (children). Uniquely, this paper reports and discusses findings in a study that investigated understandings and retention of selected school science concepts by past school age participants i.e. adults (n=50), most of who were enrolled on a Master of Education degree programme at a private non-religious international post-graduate institution in Eastern Africa region. Data were collected by use of a questionnaire that had four differently framed items (concepts). Relevant approaches including content and statistical analyses of the participants’ written responses as representations of their understandings and evidence of their levels of retention of the concepts revealed that alternative conceptions outlive classroom presented meanings of science concepts. Also revealed was the fact that alternative conceptions are widespread and quite persistent across cultures and religious affiliations. Implications of these findings on the school science curriculum and classroom teaching practices towards enhanced societal literacy in science are discussed.

Keywords: Adult, Alternative Conceptions, Misconceptions, Retention of Scientific Concepts

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 645.402KB).

Prof. Samuel Ouma Oyoo

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Communication, Technology and Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Maseno, South Africa

Samuel is currently a Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Education, Marang Centre for Mathematics and Science Education, School of Education, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa. He has previously served as an Assistant Professor at The Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa of Aga Khan University (AKU-IED, EA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in a similar capacity at the Department of Educational Communication, Technology and Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, Maseno University, Kenya. A graduate of both Nottingham and Leeds Universities in the United Kingdom, he also holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Education from Monash University, Clayton Campus, Melbourne, Australia. His research interests cover the general area of school science education but with a current focus on issues in language for learning and teaching school science/physics.

Dominic Okoth Adipo

Head of Science Department, Physics Department, Ramba Secondary School, Ndori, Kenya

Dominic Okoth Adipo has been secondary school teacher of physics for over 15 years and currently head of science department at Ramba secondary school in Kenya. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree of Kenyatta University, Kenya and a postgraduate diploma in education of Maseno University, Kenya. He has recently graduated with a Master of Education (Teacher Education)Degree from the Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa (IEDEA)of Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam, Republic of Tanzania.

Rosemary Muteitsi Maina

Head of Science Department, Embakasi High School, Embakasi High School, Nairobi, Kenya

Rosemary has taught Biology and Mathematics at a number of secondary schools across Kenya for about two decades. Currently she is the Head of Science Department at Embakasi High School in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Education (Science) degree from Kenyatta University in NAirobi, Kenya and a Master of Education degree from the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her research interest is in the place of the science laboratory in students’ attitude towards science.

Benedetta Mwikali Malusi

Senior Chemistry Teacher, Science Department, Limuru Girls High School, Nairobi, Kenya

Benedetta Mwikali Malusi is a secondary school teacher of chemistry of long standing. Currently she is a senior member of the science department at Limuru Girls High School, Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Education (Science) Degree of Kenyatta University, Kenya and a Master of education (Teacher Education) Degree of the Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa of Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam, Republic of Tanzania. Her research interest is on the challenges left handed students encounter in practicalwork.

Bakari Issa

Education Officer, Department of Teacher Education, Ministry of Education, Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania

Bakari Issa is currently a Principal Education Officer in the Minsitry of Education of the Republic of Tanzania.He has been a secondary school teacher of Chemistry and Biology for a number of years. He holds a Bachelor of education with Scsience Degree of Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania and a Master of education (Teacher Education) Degree from the Institute for educational development, Aga KHan University, Dar es Salaam, republic of Tanzania. His research interest is in the use of ICT in teaching practical work in secondary school science.

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