An Evaluation of New Scottish Chemistry Syllabuses

Johnstone, Alexander Henry (1972) An Evaluation of New Scottish Chemistry Syllabuses. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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During the early 1960's new syllabuses in Chemistry were intro-:duced into Scottish schools. A research programme was begun to evaluate these new syllabuses by comparing the performance and attitudes of university students reared on the old and new systems. Differences were found in favour of the new syllabus students. Initially, as a subsidiary part of this investigation, a study was made of the syllabus areas which the students reported to be difficult. On analysis, these difficulties fell into two well defined groups (a) topics associated with formulae, equations and the mole, and, (b) organic topics related to hydrolysis and condensation reactions. To trace the source of these problems the investigation moved into schools at 'O' grade, 'H' grade and Sixth Year Studies levels. The same problem areas became evident at all of these levels and as far down as Third Form. Almost all of the calculations were based on the operation of simple proportion, a skill which was taught in primary school. The difficulties with organic were all related to spatial arrangements of molecular models and their corresponding representations as formulae. Remedies were sought in terms of syllabus rearrangements and changes in method and these investigations ore continuing. A close examination of the problems in the light of the developmental work of Piamet has shorn that they are almost certainly linked with maturity barriers. The operation of simple proportion introduced at primary school well before the child has reached the necessary level of maturity (approx. 13) may well be at the root of the trouble with calculations. When this was then brought into contact with the multivariate thinking involved in writing chemical formulae, it was not surprising that problems occurred. When the investigation was being carried out at Sixth Year Studies level the opportunity was taken to gather the views of both students and teachers as to how well the course was fulfilling the objectives around which it was designed. The findings, on the whole, were very favourable towards the syllabus. The work embodied in this entire investigation is now actively being used by the Consultative Committee on the Curriculum in its planning of the "second generation" of new syllabuses.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Science education, Curriculum development
Date of Award: 1972
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1972-78589
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09

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