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A study of students' understanding of the nature of science and their higher-order thinking skills in biology
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Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Education Research Association (APERA) Conference, Singapore, 26-28 November 2008.
The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship between students’ understanding of the nature of science (NOS) and their ability to answer higher-order thinking (HOT) questions in biology. A class of 37 secondary 3 students completed a survey to assess their knowledge of the NOS. The students also took an achievement test containing HOT questions based on topics (diffusion, osmosis, enzymes) that they had studied. Next, enrichment lessons on NOS were introduced for four weeks, after which the NOS survey and a parallel achievement test were administered again. The mean score of the post-enrichment survey was significantly higher than that of the pre-enrichment survey showing an improvement in the students’ understanding of NOS although some misconceptions persisted. The mean scores on the achievement tests before and after the enrichment programme did not reflect any significant difference. There was no significant correlation between the pre-enrichment NOS survey and HOT achievement scores but a small positive correlation was observed between the post-enrichment scores. This suggests that students who had a better understanding of NOS performed better on the HOT achievement test, despite no difference observed between the pre- and post-enrichment achievement scores. The implications of these findings will be discussed.
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