Providing practical science experience at home, for students studying science through distance education

Show simple item record Akoobhai, Binaben J 2009-04-09T07:52:05Z 2009-04-09T07:52:05Z 2009-04-09T07:52:05Z
dc.description.abstract The role of practical work is crucial to the learning and teaching of science (Woolnough and Allsop, 1985). Depending on the design of the activity it can become a powerful tool for making concrete a subject which is abstract and inherently difficult to understand. The current practice in developing countries (including South Africa), for providing practical work experience for learners studying science through distance education, is a week long session where learners are bombarded with activities after activities the whole day long. This divorces the activity from the theory and thus one aim of practical work, the understanding of a particular theory or concept is not achieved. The microscience system, developed at RADMASTE (Research and Development in Maths, Science and Technology Education) Centre, Wits University, may be an answer to the problem mentioned above. This system uses small-scale equipment which is cost-effective, versatile, convenient and robust, and demands no special infrastructure. Working on a small scale is now the norm in many branches of science: it costs less, it is safer, there is less damage to the environment, etc. It is accompanied with worksheets (written using a guided enquiry approach) as well as chemicals that would be required for the activities. To see its effectiveness as a tool for providing practical work experience for students studying science through distance education, it was used by educators who had registered for the ACE (Advanced Certificate in Education) for FET (Further Education and Training) level program at Wits University. This is an inservice training course for educators, most of whom qualified with a 3 year educators diploma from an educators training college. The ACE program uses a mixed delivery approach. That is, 4 contact sessions (usually 5 days each, during the school holidays) are spaced throughout the year where educators come to the workshop. During the workshop, course workbook, assignments and portfolio activities for a particular course are given to the educators. For the rest of the period educators are required to work independently or with fellow students. The portfolio tasks and assignments are sent by post to the University by the educators, whereupon they are marked and resent to educators. During each year educators complete 3 specialisation courses (either in Maths or Science) and 2 education courses. The microchemistry kit (part of the microscience system) was used by educators at home for performing practical work activities for the science specialization course entitled, Chemical Reactions. The current research aims to report on the use of the RADMASTE Advanced microchemistry kit by two groups of secondary school educators at home during their independent study. A questionnaire was designed to look at how the educators managed to use the kit on their own. To gain insight into their experiences an in-depth interview was conducted by visiting four educators at home when they were performing the practical activity. Another questionnaire was designed to ascertain the attitude of these educators towards practical work. A questionnaire was also answered to gain understanding of what the educators learnt after using the kit at home. The results obtained for this study will inform the future for providing practical work experience for students studying science through distance education. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Distance education en
dc.subject Practical work en
dc.subject Microscience en
dc.title Providing practical science experience at home, for students studying science through distance education en
dc.type Thesis en

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