Attitudes and learning difficulties in middle school science in South Korea

Jung, Eun Sook (2005) Attitudes and learning difficulties in middle school science in South Korea. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between cognitive and attitudinal aspects of learning science, concentrating mainly on the influence of cognitive understanding and learning difficulty on attitudes to science. This theme is selected, in particular, because it is reported that Korean students at secondary level do not enjoy studying science and have not enough confidence, although their achievements are high. Johnstone's information processing model (1993) is used to account for cognitive aspects of science education. Learning processes are understood in terms of student's own knowledge construction through the operation of perception filters, processing in working memory space and storing in long term memory. In particular, the overload of student's working memory space is considered as the main factor causing learning difficulty and, in consequence, learning failure. The research took place in one middle school located in Seoul, the capital city in South Korea. 364 students aged 13 and 350 aged 15 participated. In order to try to find relationships between cognitive and affective factors of science learning, individual student's working memory space was measured and a questionnaire designed to gather information about students' attitudes was prepared and given to all students. To determine the working memory space capacity of the students, the Figural Intersection Test (F.I.T), designed by Pascual-Leone, was used. Two kinds of analysis, comparison and correlation, were performed with data from the Figural Intersection Test and the questionnaire applied to students. For the comparison of attitudes between age 13 and 15, the distributions of frequencies of responses were analyzed for each particular statement in a question. The Chi-square (?[2]) test was applied to judge the statistically significant differences in responses of the two groups. The levels of significance used were 0.05, 0.01 and 0.001. In order to see whether there is difference of opinions related to various aspects of learning science between age 13 and 15, and between high and middle and low working memory capacity groups, students responses were compared by just looking at the distribution of percentages without doing more statistics. Correlation coefficients were calculated to see if student's working memory capacity is linked with attitudes. As a result of data analyses from the working memory test and the questionnaire, it is seen that working memory space is related to some student attitudes towards science and their way of studying. Compared to students with high working memory capacity, students who have low working memory capacity are likely to lose their interest in science, feel science is difficult, and have low confidence about studying science. In addition, they tend to depend on memorization when they study science, consider science as a future career less, and are less motivated to study science by attitudinal factors such as "I really enjoy studying science", "Science is useful in my life". This exploratory study has suggested some important issues which need addressed in developing positive attitudes as well as encouraging meaningful learning.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Norman Reid
Keywords: Science education, Middle school education
Date of Award: 2005
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2005-74103
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 15:33

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