Mozambican University Students' Conceptions about the Relationship between Science-Technology-Society : Case study of the Pedagogical University

  • ABSTRACT The problem that prompted this study is the absence of modern approaches and methods of teaching and learning science in Mozambican educational system. Currently, the science curricula in Mozambique can be characterized as: organized in separated disciplines, based on canonical science content, and teaching practices that are based on a teacher-centered approach using traditional methods of teaching. On the other hand, there is an approach of teaching and learning which focus on the relationship between Science, Technology and Society (STS) that is well established in science education since the late 80s. This approach of teaching is claimed to be one of the best ways to achieve scientific literacy, promote decision-making and active citizenship of students in social issues pertaining the society where they live, and it had been used in many developed and developing countries. Taking into account this discrepancy, and trying to find a solution for the problem the following research questions were posed: 1. What are Mozambican university students' views about the relationship between science, technology and society? 2. Does an STS approach of teaching involving inquiry type of laboratory work using an open-ended approach contribute to change students' views and beliefs about STS issues? 3. Could an STS approach of teaching be successfully implemented in Mozambican educational system at secondary and tertiary level? In order to answer these questions and in a quest to find solutions for the problem posed a mixed-method approach was used, combining both qualitative and quantitative methods. There was a survey carried out in all branches of the Pedagogical University of Mozambique, covering all provinces of the country, and there was an intervention process implemented in iterative way in two tiers in two consecutive years. The main instrument used to gather data, both in the survey and in the intervention process were 19 VOSTS item selected from a pool of 114 multiple choice items developed in Canada in late 80s to assess students' "Views on Science - Technology - Society" (VOSTS). The 19 VOSTS items selected for the study, after translation from English to Portuguese were adapted and adopted as the main research instrument. The questionnaire administered to students both in survey and intervention consisted of 13 VOSTS items, of which only 7 were identical. The 6 VOSTS items used in the survey were focusing on views of science in medias and science class and aspects related to the technology development and implementation, while the 6 other different used in the intervention process were focused on the nature of science (epistemology). The survey was carried out by administering the 13 VOSTS items questionnaire in all ten provinces of the country with branches of the Pedagogical University, using 832 second year students enrolled in four science or science related courses of: agriculture, biology, chemistry and physics. The aim of the survey was to establish a baseline situation of the country about STS issues, since the study was the first of its kind in the country. The intervention process was made in two tiers in two consecutive years, involving 59 second year chemistry students of one branch. The intervention process was implemented in 12 weeks and the design consisted of four different stages: (1) pretest, consisted of administering the 13 VOSTS items questionnaire; (2) seminars about STS issues, STS approach, and about inquiry type of practical work using open ended approach; (3) students performing experiments to solve problems posed using the knowledge about STS issues. During this process field notes and some videotapes were made; (4) post-test at the end of the process using the same instrument administered in the pretest, and (5) post-intervention interview with selected students who participated in the study to evaluate the process in which they were involved. To assess students' responses to the questionnaires administered both in the survey and in the intervention, a panel of 10 experts was assembled as judges, all of them university lecturers with PhD Degree and more than 15 experience teaching biology (1), chemistry (5), physics (1); mathematics (3) and French teacher (1). Their task was to categorize the options of each VOSTS statement and classify as Realistic, and other options could be classified as many times as possible as Has Merit or Naïve. The last three options that were common to all VOSTS items were considered Passive. After analyzing the classifications of every expert, an effort was made to find consensus and come up with one final categorization that could be used a scoring scheme to assess students' responses to the questionnaire. In those VOSTS items where there were discrepancies in selecting the Realistic view it was solved by adopting categorization made in other studies using the same VOSTS items made by people acquitted with STS issues, unlike the experts used in this research (only one was acquitted with the approach). G The underlying assumption in this study is that the ultimate goal of science teaching is to change students' opinions progressively “from Naïve” to “Has merit”, and from there to a “Realistic” view about the relationship between science, technology and society. Taking this into consideration the following conclusions were inferred: 1. Mozambican students' views and beliefs about the relationship between science, technology and society are positive, they correspond to what is commonly accepted in the scientific community about the STS issues assessed in this study. 2. The results from the baseline study, besides being considered positive showed that students irrespective of the course that they are enrolled (agriculture, biology, chemistry and physics), have no significant difference on the STS issues assessed. 3. An STS approach of teaching implemented through inquiry type of practical work using open ended approach during twelve (12) weeks suggests that students' views are positive and are more in line with what is accepted in the scientific community about the 13 VOSTS items assessed in the intervention process. 4. Based on the results of the intervention process with the experimental group in two different years it can be concluded that the STS approach of teaching proposed and implemented though inquiry type of practical work using open ended approach did not contributed to change students' views and beliefs about STS issues from pretest to post-test, except in two of the 13 VOSTS items assessed. 5. By comparing students' responses to the seven common VOSTS items in the baseline study and in the intervention process, in both years and pretest and post-test, the answer pattern are similar. These findings show, on one hand that all science students share the same views about science, and on the other hand that irrespective of the intervention made students did not change their views. 6. Based on the results of the baseline study, the results of the intervention process and taking into account the evaluation of the blue print documents about Mozambican educational system and the socio-politic context of the country it can be concluded that the STS approach of teaching can be implemented in Mozambique. Finally, it is worthy to consider that taking into account the study design made, the sample size used, and the rigor in controlling variables, it is believed that the results of this study are valid and can be generalized to other Mozambican students with the same science background. Furthermore, when considering science as universal irrespective of the place where it takes place, some of the findings of this study can be generalized to other places in world.

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Author:Antonio Cristo Madeira
Publishing Institution:Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg
Granting Institution:Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg
Date of final exam:2016/12/15
DDC class:500 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik
Tag:inquiry type of practical work, conceptual change
GND Keyword:STS approach, practical work, Mozambican students' opinions
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Publisher:Padagogische Hochshule Heidelberg
Place of publication:Heidelberg
Referee:Michael Schallies, Nicole Marmé
Year of Completion:2016
Release Date:2017/12/18
Pagenumber:241, 127
Institutes:Fakultät für Natur- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften (Fak. III)
Licence (German):License LogoVeröffentlichungsvertrag mit Print-on-Demand