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The growth of social science concepts in the junior-senior high school Mill, Mary Margaret

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to discover the amount of growth in understanding of certain social science concepts that appears throughout the junior-senior high school; to compare the degrees of understanding achieved by low and high I.Q. groups; and to determine the causes of the various errors made by the students. Two interpretive tests, based on concepts typical of those appearing in social studies text books, were constructed and administered to 371 pupils in Social Studies I, III, and V classes of representative city schools. Results of both tests showed a gradual growth in the ability on the part of the groups tested to understand certain social concepts. On both tests there was a significant difference between the mean scores of Social Studies I, III, and V groups. In any one group there was no significant difference between boys and girls mean scores. Pupils of high I.Q,’s in the Social Studies I and V groups made higher scores than did those of less ability. Coefficients of correlation between I.Q.'s and test scores of both tests also indicated that the ability to understand certain social concepts was somewhat related to intelligence. An analysis of responses made to Test I items revealed that errors may be caused by verbalism, over-potency of certain sentence elements, difficulties arising out of figurative language, confusion with other concepts of similar spelling or sounds, "reading errors", and a complete failure to grasp the meaning of the concept. In Test II, verbalism, "reading errors", failure to follow directions, failure to weigh evidence, failure to interpret quantitative terms, and failure to compare trends contributed to the inadequacy of responses. Little difference in causes of errors was found to exist between high and low I.Q, groups at the Social Studies I and V levels. In general, throughout the groups studied, pupils did better on questions of a straightforward, fact-finding nature than they did on those requiring interpretation of data. Test results for the groups studied indicated that pupils need more opportunity to express themselves in writing, that is to tell in their own words what a concept means to them. Moreover, students need practice in interpretation of data exercises in order that they may learn to think critically, weigh evidence, and avoid drawing conclusions from insufficient data.

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