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Subramaniam, R. (Ramanathan), 1952-
Tan, Kim Chwee Daniel
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This is a study of 346 elementary students (aged 11-12) from five schools in Singapore who took part in a two-hour enrichment programme at a science centre. The study aimed to look at how an enrichment programme could be used to facilitate and complement the understanding of genetic inheritance – a topic in school science that is known to be difficult to understand.

The research study used a mixed methods design to study an intervention in a designed environment (a science centre). The development of the enrichment programme was based on a social constructivist framework that students construct their own understanding of the topic built on their prior knowledge and supported by hands-on investigations, competent community of educators and teachers, and collaborative learning.

A multi-faceted approach was used to track effectiveness of the programme. This involved participants taking a knowledge test with an added confidence dimension, interviews of students and teachers, a stimulated recall post intervention activity and feedback from science educators conducting the programme. A cognitive instrument was developed for this programme and administered one week before the treatment programme, immediately after the programme and as a delayed post-test two-three months later. A feedback form to measure any interest stimulated by the programme was also given with the post-test.

The results of the study indicate that there was an increase in student scores on the test, which was statistically significant from pre-test to post-test and delayed post-test after the enrichment programme. The survey recorded high levels of enjoyment of the programme, especially for laboratory activities. In post-visit stimulated recall sessions conducted two-three months later, students were able to recall accurately many details of what they had experienced and done during the laboratory programme. Qualitative feedback from a sample of 56 students who participated in the enrichment programme also gave insights into what helped their understanding of the topic.

From this study, the pre-test responses show that elementary school students held ideas that were not always correct about inheritance. Increase in correct post-programme responses, that was statistically significant and not likely to be explained by chance, suggests that the programme has the potential to be an effective resource on this topic for students. The study contributes to the body of knowledge in that firstly, there is new knowledge on elementary students’ understanding of this topic as this level has also not been extensively studied. The cognitive instrument that was developed has the potential, to be used to measure changes in the understanding of inheritance concepts in elementary school student and there is a lack of such instruments at this level. Secondly, there is no record in the literature of the development of an out-of-school enrichment programme focusing on the topic of genetic inheritance for elementary students complementing school science. Factors that were found to make the programme effective were: appropriate information for the target age, hands-on activities on the concepts, clarity of the delivery and a stimulating environment.
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LB1532 Dai
Appears in Collections:Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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