Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Mumba, Frackson

Second Advisor

Wise, Kevin

Abstract

The purpose of this study was two-fold: examine junior high school pre-service science teachers' chemical reasoning; and establish the extent to which the pre-service science teachers' chemical abilities explain their chemical reasoning. A sample comprised 165 junior high school pre-service science teachers at Mufulira College of Education in Zambia. There were 82 males and 83 females. Data were collected using a Chemical Concept Reasoning Test (CCRT). Pre-service science teachers' chemical reasoning was established through qualitative analysis of their responses to test items. The Rasch Model was used to determine the pre-service teachers' chemical abilities and item difficulty. Results show that most pre-service science teachers had incorrect chemical reasoning on chemical concepts assessed in this study. There was no significant difference in chemical understanding between the Full-Time and Distance Education pre-service science teachers, and between second and third year pre-service science teachers. However, there was a significant difference in chemical understanding between male and female pre-service science teachers. Male pre-service science teachers showed better chemical understanding than female pre-service science teachers. The Rasch model revealed that the pre-service science teachers had low chemical abilities, and the CCRT was very difficult for this group of pre-service science teachers. As such, their incorrect chemical reasoning was attributed to their low chemical abilities. These results have implications on science teacher education, chemistry teaching and learning, and chemical education research.

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