Date of Award

8-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Mumba, Frackson

Abstract

The purposes of this study were (a) to examine Zambian Junior high school pre-service science teachers' familiarity with, interest in learning more about electrochemistry, and their conceptual understanding and performance on electrochemistry (b) to examine the pre-service science teachers' ability to identify misconceptions on electrochemistry and their pedagogical ideas on how to address the identified misconceptions in junior high school classrooms, and (c) to establish the extent to which pre-service science teachers' familiarity with, interest in, conceptual understanding of, performance on, and pedagogical ideas for, electrochemistry are related. The electrochemistry concepts examined in this study were categorized into basic and advanced concepts. A sample comprised 66 junior high school pre-service science teachers at Mufulira College of Education in Zambia. The study used a mixed methods research design, and data were collected using a questionnaire, performance test, and interviews. The first two instruments collected quantitative data which was analyzed using non-parametric tests - Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney tests. The third instrument collected qualitative data which was analyzed by identifying the emerging themes that formed categories. The pre-service science teachers reported high familiarity and interest in the electrochemistry concepts examined. There were statistically significant differences in familiarity with and interest in all concepts among all the groups. The year in college and level at which electrochemistry was learned showed statistically significant differences for both familiarity and interest. Results further showed low pre-service science teachers' conceptual understanding and performance on electrochemistry test. Between group comparisons on conceptual understanding and performance were statistically significant for year in college and levels at which electrochemistry was learned. The pre-service science teachers interviewed exhibited inability to identify misconceptions in most scenarios on basic electrochemistry concepts. Furthermore, teachers' suggested pedagogical ideas for addressing the misconceptions comprised both learner-centered and teacher-centered instructional practices. As such, the pre-service science teachers' self-reported knowledge of electrochemistry was not consistent with their actual knowledge. Correlational analysis of familiarity, interest, conceptual understanding and performance revealed statistically significant correlations between familiarity and conceptual understanding, r(64) = 0.56, p = 0.000 and between performance and conceptual understanding r(64) = 0.64, p = 0.000 only. These results have implications for teacher education and science teaching and learning.

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