Attitudes to school physics laboratory in Oman.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The major goal of this study is to explore the attitude of students and teachers to physics laboratory work in after-basic education schools in Oman. The world has seen an explosion of scientific knowledge in the past hundred years or so. The outcomes of this have brought immense changes to societies and to lifestyles; the communications revolution, the world of new materials, the development of medical advances, etc. All of these have depended on very highly skilled scientists, given the support and facilities to experiment and explore. The place of the laboratory in this has been critical and this has had an effect on the way the sciences are taught at school and university levels.
The Ministry of Education in Oman incorporated laboratory work as an integral part of school education from the 1970s. Many changes have been implemented in recent years to reform the science school education. Secondary education (Grades 11 and 12) are the last episode of the basic education system. It is composed of both compulsory and elective subjects. Upon completion of this level, students receive General Education Diploma in Post-Basic Education. The curricula have been changed radically to include practical as well as theory components.
The main aim of this study is to gather insights about students’ and teachers’ attitudes to physics laboratory in Oman, and how the perceptions of students and teachers differ. The attitudes of 881 Omani students and 39 teachers were surveyed using questioners designed in line with the methods of Osgood et. al (1957) and Likert (1932). The sample came from 29 public Omani schools in Al-Dahera Region. The goal was to present a picture of the attitudes based on the patterns of responses of large samples. This allows investigating the trends with students and teachers differences.
Overall, students and their teachers hold positive attitudes towards laboratory work in physics. Both students and teachers argued that laboratory work is the best part of physics; it is enjoyable, important, interesting and promotes critical thinking. However, they pointed out some issues and concerns that should be addressed to fully harness the laboratory work in teaching school physics. Chi-square analyses shows that students and teachers have minor dissimilarities of views towards laboratory work.
With such large sample, the study has offered a general idea about students and teachers perceptions towards physics laboratory work. Interviews with more than forty physics teachers show strong conformity between the teachers’ survey results and the results obtained from these interviews. The interviews also gave the teachers a chance to express different concerns related to physics curriculum, technical support, training and attitudes related to the use of laboratory in teaching school physics. Moreover, the study shed some light on issues and concerns that should be addressed. It also offered proposals for possible future research and presents general findings and implications.
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