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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the transferability of selected concepts and procedures of scientific experimentation Imenda, Sitwala Namwinji


This study addressed the general question of whether or not knowledge of selected concepts and procedures of scientific experimentation is transferable beyond the learning context within which it has been acquired. In order to investigate this problem conceptual models of scientfic enquiry and scientific knowledge were developed. Together, these two conceptual models were used to examine this broad question of the transferability of experimental knowledge across learning contexts. For the purpose of this study two learning contexts were defined and subsequently examined: the content-specific and the general-knowledge contexts. Instructional materials were developed to present selected experimental concepts and procedures to students in each of these contexts. This study employed a pretest-posttest control-group design, having one control and two treatment groups. Each group comprised three intact classrooms. In all, a total of six randomly selected single-sex schools from Lusaka district, Zambia, participated in the study, giving a total of 342 students. Two testing instruments were developed by the researcher and the data collected were analysed through a linear multiple regression model of analysis of covariance having two covariates and one dependent variable. The Tukey method was used to conduct a posteriori comparisons amongst the three groups which participated in this study. The results of this study showed that instruction in the cognitive aspects of the selected concepts and procedures of scientific experimentation resulted in the students' ability to transfer such knowledge to a situation outside the context within which the instruction was presented. The results showed, further, that instructional materials in the general-knowledge context provided for a significantly higher level of transfer (p<0.05) than did the content-specific context. The implications of these results are discussed and some recommendations for action as well as further research are suggested.

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