Scholarly article on topic 'The level of understanding of elementary education students’ some chemistry subjects'

The level of understanding of elementary education students’ some chemistry subjects Academic research paper on "Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries"

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Abstract of research paper on Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, author of scientific article — Sevgül Calış

Abstract The purpose of the study was to determine the eighth grade students’ understanding level of some the chemistry topics in Turkish Science and Technology program. It was found that while electron configuration, states of matter, and physical and chemical changes understanding level was at the good level, acids, bases and salts, structure of the matter, mixtures, and classification of matter was at the moderate level. However, results showed that periodic table, chemical bonds, chemical reactions, and heat and temperature could not learn by the students at sufficient level, as these subjects were less aright responded.

Academic research paper on topic "The level of understanding of elementary education students’ some chemistry subjects"

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Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 4868-4871

WCES-2010

The level of understanding of elementary education students' some chemistry subjects

Sevgul Cali§a *

aEducation Faculty, Uludag University, Bursa, 16059, Turkey Received November 8, 2009; revised December 9, 2009; accepted January 20, 2010

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine the eighth grade students' understanding level of some the chemistry topics in Turkish Science and Technology program. It was found that while electron configuration, states of matter, and physical and chemical changes understanding level was at the good level, acids, bases and salts, structure of the matter, mixtures, and classification of matter was at the moderate level. However, results showed that periodic table, chemical bonds, chemical reactions, and heat and temperature could not learn by the students at sufficient level, as these subjects were less aright responded. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Chemistry subjects; level of understanding; misunderstanding; elementary education.

1. Introduction

The correct and complete teaching of basic chemistry subjects is important for the understanding of following subjects by students at the primary and high school level. This is because unlearned subjects or misunderstood knowledge cause bigger problems of understanding and learning for students at upper classes (Ozmen et al., 2002). There are many academic studies which aim to determine misunderstandings and understanding level of chemistry subjects by students from primary school to higher education level.

Gurdal, Bayram, and Sokmen (1999) stated that some difficulties are often met in the teaching of elements, compounds, physical and chemical changes subjects among fifth and eighth grade students. In another study Karamustafaoglu and Ayas (2002) found that 60% of the eighth grade students had misunderstanding about the metals, nonmetals, semi metals, and alloys topic and only half of them could apply the knowledge to daily life. When the studies examined, it can be seen that not only elementary school students but also pre-service, primary, and science teachers have similar misconceptions on the chemistry subjects.

In a study done to determine the understanding level of some chemistry subjects with pre-service elementary teachers, the findings are that students use one instead of other mass and weight notions and confuse them, they are not aware of atomic fission, they can not associate chemical and physical phenomenon with daily life examples, they have errors on boiling point, they mix up acid and base and they can not understand properties of compounds. Furthermore, students have a good level of understanding and comprehension on compounds, metals, nonmetals, solid-liquid-gas elements, solution, and dissolutions. (Konur and Ayas 2008). Erdem, Yilmaz, and Morgil (2001)

* Sevgül Çali§. Tel.: +0 224 2942296 E-mail address: scalis@uludag.edu.tr

1877-0428 © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.786

found that pre-service science teachers had some difficulties related the topics of mol- molecules, atomic mass, and redox. Similarly, Can and Harmandar (2004) stated that preservice science and elemantary students did not have enough knowledge on chemical bonds, polarity of bonds, and polarity of molecule. Ayas and Ozmen (2002) showed that first and second year secondary school students' understanding level of the granular structure of material was weak. Sokmen and Bayram (1999) implemented a study in order to determine the level of understanding of basic chemistry concepts of first and second year high school first year students. They found that students could not learn the concepts meaningfully and memorization of concepts was the main cause of this consequence. Dogan et.al, (2007) stated that high school students and pre-service chemistry teachers had problems to understand and apply Le-Chateiler principle.

Elementary school is the period while scientific basis are installed. The subjects not well understood make harder following learning, therefore, in this study it was examined the level of understanding of some chemistry subjects within Science and Technology Course by the students. The importance of this study is that it aims to determine the understanding level of basic chemistry subjects by students and it shows us the subjects with which students have difficulties and easiness to understand. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the understanding level of some chemistry subjects in Turkish Science and Technology course by eighth grade students. The following research question guided the study:

What is the understanding level of eight grade elementary students of some chemistry topics?

2. Method

The study was conducted in 2008-2009 spring semester of academic year. The sample of the study constituted of 193 elementary school students of 8th grade in Bursa. In order to define the understanding level of some chemistry subjects from Science and Technology course by the students, a 30 question multiple choice test was used as a data collection tool. After the application of the test, according to the formula KR-20, the reliability coefficient is calculated as 0.71.

In the test, the answers of students were classified as "correct", "wrong", and "blank". If the question was marked by right answer by the students it was classified as understood level, if it was marked wrong it was classified as non-understood level, if it was blank, it was classified as non-answered.

3. Results

The dispersion of questions by subjects and the answers given by students to the test to determine understanding level of some chemistry questions by students were given on Table 1.

Table 1. Dispersion of questions by subjects and the number and percentage of answers to test questions

question subject correct wrong blank

number n % n % n %

1 Structure of the atom 105 54.40 86 44.57 2 1.03

2 States of the matter 184 95.33 8 4.16 1 0.51

3 Physical and chemical changes 87 45.07 101 52.34 5 2.59

4 Classification of matter 72 37.30 116 60.11 5 2.59

5 Classification of matter 142 73.57 40 20.74 11 5.69

6 Classification of matter 86 44.55 103 53.38 4 2.07

7 Classification of matter 142 73.57 50 25.92 1 0.51

8 Structure of the atom 89 46.11 82 42.50 22 11.39

9 Physical and chemical changes 150 77.72 39 20.21 4 2.07

10 Classification of matter 85 44.04 102 52.86 6 3.10

11 Structure of the atom 140 72.53 48 24.88 5 2.59

12 Structure of the atom 107 55.44 70 36.27 16 8.29

13 Chemical bonds 42 21.76 142 73.58 9 4.66

14 Electronic configuration 171 88.60 18 9.33 4 2.07

15 Chemical bonds 81 41.96 107 55.45 5 2.59

16 Chemical bonds 87 45.07 79 40.95 27 13.98

17 Chemical bonds 120 62.17 65 33.69 8 4.14

18 Chemical bonds 127 65.80 49 25.40 17 8.80

19 Mixtures 52 26.94 121 62.70 20 10.36

20 Mixtures 118 61.13 69 35.77 6 3.10

21 Mixtures 151 78.23 36 18.67 6 3.10

22 Chemical bonds 80 41.45 68 35.24 45 23.31

23 Chemical reactions 83 43.00 80 41.46 30 15.54

24 Physical and chemical changes 134 69.43 54 27.98 5 2.59

25 Chemical reactions 109 56.47 63 32.65 21 10.88

26 Periodic table 40 20.72 135 69.96 18 9.32

27 Heat and temperature 94 48.70 74 38.35 25 12.95

28 Acids and bases 114 59.06 67 34.73 12 6.21

29 States of matter 121 62.69 51 26.43 21 10.88

30 Heat and temperature 101 52.33 74 38.35 18 9.32

The total number of questions in test for all subjects the dispersion numbers and percentage of the answers by students to the questions were given on the Table 2.

Table 2. The total number of questions in each subject and the dispersion number and percentage of all answers by categories

subject number of understood non-understood non answered

questions n % n % n %

Acids and bases 1 114 59 67 34 12 6

Structure of atom 4 441 57 286 37 45 5

Electronic configuration 1 171 88 18 9 4 2

Physical and chemical changes 3 371 64 194 33 14 2

Heat and temperature 2 195 50 148 38 43 11

Mixtures 3 321 55 226 39 32 5

Chemical bonds 6 537 46 510 44 11 9

Chemical reactions 2 192 49 143 37 51 13

States of matter 2 305 79 59 15 22 5

Classification of matter 5 527 54 411 42 27 2

Periodic table 1 40 20 135 69 18 9

Descriptive statistics related to students' answers indicated that certain chemistry topics for example; electronic configuration (88%), states of matter (79%), physical and chemical changes (64%), acids and bases (59%), structure of atom (%57), mixtures (55%), classification of matter (54%) and heat and temperature (50%) showed that these topics were understood level. It can be seen that the most dramatic findings were arisen on the topics of periodic table (20%), chemical bonds (46%), and chemical reactions (49%), for which the level of understanding were none-understood.

4. Conclusions and Discussion

The purpose of this study was to determine the understanding level of some chemistry subjects in Turkish Science and Technology course by eighth grade students. The results showed that eighth grade students had some difficulties with some of the chemistry subjects. According to results the following conclucions can be made: The first question related to structure of atom showed that students were not aware of the dividing of an atom. The sixth question on structure of material revealed that the subject of compounds and mixtures were mixed up by students. The answers given to this question showed that students thought that compounds can be separated by physical methods and when it was said the materials made up of different types of atoms, they thought mixtures more than compounds when it was said them a matter including different types of atom. The questions 7 and 10 showed that students could not learn the concept of element.

The answers given for chemical bonds to questions of 13 and 15 showed that students could not distinguish between ionic and covalent bonds.

The question 16 indicated that some students could not comprehend between which atoms in a compound there were a chemical bond between each other.

The question 19 showed that students could not associate homogeneous and heterogenic compounds to daily life examples.

The question 23 showed that the students could not distinguish between the wasted and obtained substances in a chemical reaction.

The 26th question showed that students did not have enough knowledge on the change of atomic diameter according to periods and groups.

According the results of the study, the understanding level of chemistry subjects by students in Science and Technology Course is low except some subjects such as electronic configuration, structure of matter, physical and chemical changes. The main cause of that might be the using of traditional instruction method. Furthermore, because of their abstract nature, chemistry subjects are difficult to understand by students. Previous studies indicated that students can not learn abstract concepts without having concrete concepts and the abstract concepts learning period begins after the ages 14 and 15 (Lawson and Renner, 1975; Cantu and Herron, 1978; Bayram, Sokmen and Gurdal, 1998). The teaching of abstract conceptsvin early years make difficult understanding of the concepts by students. This may cause that students memorize the subjects, forget all in next educational periods and can not learn future subjects. (Erdem, Yilmaz and Morgil, 2001).

5. Recommendations

It should be determined actual lacks and misunderstandings of students in order to eliminate their learning difficulties. For an effective and meaningful learning, it should be considered previous learning of students as they can be directly affected new acquirements of students. Primary education is the first stage of scientific view so it must be well constructed. The basis gained during that period will make more effective and permanent the future learning at next stages.

It is also recommended that it should be examined by the researchers the possible reasons of why eight grade students' success level of some chemistry subjects were low. It can be examined some possible reasons such as the appropriateness of the class level of the chemistry subjects and whether or not the science teachers implemented accordingly the chemistry activities in classrooms.

References

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