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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigation of the goals of the laboratory programme in secondary school chemistry courses in British Columbia Griffiths, Stephen John


In 1965 and 1966 a modified version of the Chem Study programme was introduced into Grades 11 and 12 in British Columbia secondary schools, to replace Chem 90 and Chem 91, which were based on Dull, Brookes and Metcalfe's text, Modern Chemistry. As a result of this change, a traditional, text-book centred course was replaced by a contemporary laboratory-centred course. In Chem Study, laboratory experience replaces the text as the primary source of information and the information gathered in the laboratory is used as the basis for the development of theoretical concepts. It is considered most important by Chem Study that the teacher recognises the goals of the laboratory programme and that he works towards these goals in practice. In addition, it is necessary for both teacher and student to recognise the relationship existing between laboratory observations and the development of theory if the major goals of the course are to be realised. This thesis describes an attempt to determine whether British Columbia secondary school chemistry teachers are indeed aware of the goals of the laboratory programme and whether they and their students think these goals are being achieved. Q-analysis procedures and techniques were used to gather and analyse the data. Three groups of interested people, namely, specialists, chemistry teachers and students were requested to describe the goals of the laboratory programme by rank-ordering a comprehensive list of items, each describing one goal of laboratory work. The items, which were gathered from a wide variety of sources, were arranged by each subject into a predetermined (modified normal) distribution pattern. The item scores for each subject were correlated and the correlation matrix factor analysed. Each factor identified by the computer programme represented a group of persons with similar viewpoints. In addition a hierarchy of item acceptance was established for each factor on the basis of item z-scores. This enabled the viewpoint of each factor and the differences between viewpoints to be described. It has been shown that teachers are aware of the goals of the Provincial Chem Study programme and that they believe that they work towards these goals in practice. However, students perceive the priorities of the goals of the laboratory course to be different from those described by the teacher. The differences that exist between the viewpoints of teachers and students are in part differences in emphasis and in part differences in substance.

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