UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Female high school students' perceptions of the role of practical work in school science education MacKay, Eileen Moir


The intent of this study was to probe female High School students' perceptions of the role of practical work in their school science education. A total of 20 students were interviewed: four Grade 9 students and four Grade 12 students in the pilot study and six Grade 9 students and six Grade 12 students in the actual study. The students involved attended a girls' High School and had experienced at least two years of science education in an all girls environment. Each student was interviewed for between twenty and thirty minutes. The interviews utilised the 'Rapport Interview' technique. The interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and the information obtained collected under eight main category headings. Among the significant findings of this study were: 1. Female High School students view practical work in science as an aid to learning and understanding science concepts, and as a memory aid. 2. Students view demonstrations as an inadequate replacement for hands-on practical work. 3. Students require some theoretical background knowledge before proceeding with practical work if they are to obtain the maximum benefit from the experience. 4. Students prefer to undertake a self-directed enquiry rather than a prescribed one if they have some familiarity with the material. This preference may change if the work is to be graded. 5. Female High School students, particularly in Grade 9, feel insecure when conducting practical work and feel more comfortable when working with a chosen partner. 6. Failure to obtain the 'correct answer' can result in female students ' experiencing negative feelings about their abilities. 7. Dissection makes a powerful impression on female students and seems to stand apart from other types of practical work. 8. Safety is of considerable importance to Grade 9 female students and may be inhibiting their activities in the laboratory. The findings of this study suggest that practical work is of considerable importance to female High School students for a variety of reasons but the most important is to further their understanding of science concepts.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.