An Investigation of Practical Work in the S.C.E. Certificate of Sixth Year Studies in Chemistry

McGuire, J (1973) An Investigation of Practical Work in the S.C.E. Certificate of Sixth Year Studies in Chemistry. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 11017927.pdf] PDF
Download (8MB)


This investigation is concerned with practical work in Sixth Tear Studies Chemistry and in particular with:- (a) How much practical work is being done and under what conditions? (b) How suitable are the experiments being used and how can they be improved? (c) What objectives are being achieved by the practical work? (d) Effect of the project on achievement of objectives. (e) Preliminary investigation of assessment of skills gained through practical work by pencil and paper tests. In 1971 a questionnaire was sent to all teachers of Sixth Tear Studies Chemistry. Bata obtained from this indicated that the vast majority of schools were receiving what the original planners of the course considered to be an adequate allocation of time. The proportion of time allocated to practical work was also adequate in those terms. The number of experiments being used however fell far short of the planners intentions. The experiments listed in the Sixth Tear Studies Chemistry syllabus were tried out by the author. It was found that all but four of the experiments were well within the scope of secondary school laboratories and pupils. Alternative experiments have been collected, rewritten and tried out by post-graduate students. They are on trial in a group of schools before being put into general circulation. It was found that the experiments not being used frequently in schools coincided with areas of weakness shown in the Sixth Tear Studies Examinations. The degree of achievement of some objectives of practical work in Sixth Tear Studies Chemistry was investigated by sending questionnaires to pupils and teachers in ten schools during the academic year 1971 - 1972. The pupils indicated what they thought had been achieved by each experiment after it had been completed. The teachers indicated what objectives they thought had been achieved by each experiment. Enough data was available from eighteen experiments to see trends in achievement of objectives and to compare teachers and pupils views of objectives. Pupils tended to see properties and behaviour of substances rather than underlying concepts. There was more agreement between what objectives the pupils thought had been achieved and what the teachers thought should have been achieved when the objectives of the experiment were stated clearly. 'Encouraging further investigation' was not rated very highly as an objective by the teachers but it was rated much lower for achievement by the pupils. The teachers rated 'reinforcing theory learned in class' high as an objective of practical work. Pupils rated it much lover and about 30% of the pupils claimed that carrying out experiments made no difference to their understanding of theory. Further questionnaires were sent to pupils and teachers in eighteen schools in April 1972. The responses to the teachers' questionnaires indicated that practical work is not as closely integrated with theory as the responses to the 1971 questionnaires indicated. The pupils' questionnaires tended to confirm what objectives had been achieved by practical work and to indicate that carrying out projects helped to achieve the objectives of 'increasing skills in handling apparatus' and 'introducing a variety of methods of chemical investigation'. The teachers were asked in their questionnaire to list their pupils in order of merit for practical skills. The pupils were given a pencil and paper test to assess these skills. An order of merit was made up on the basis of the tests and compared with the teachers' orders of merit. Ten of the schools provided data from which conclusions could be drawn. Comparing the teachers' and the test's order of merits, all showed a small positive correlation. Six were greater than 0.35 and four were less than 0.35. It would appear that further investigation of assessment of practical skills by pencil and paper tests might be worthwhile.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Science education
Date of Award: 1973
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1973-78622
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year