Relationships between Piagetian cognitive development at the formal level and science background among prospective elementary school teachers Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d504rp520

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  • Results of recent studies on Piagetian cognitive development, though equivocal, showed that the architectonic of formal operational schemata is not possessed by a sizeable percentage (up to 52%) of adolescents and young adults. The purpose of the present study is two fold: (i) To assess the cognitive levels of a sample of prospective elementary teachers, and (ii) To investigate which of ten independent variables were most highly correlated with, and useful in explaining performance on five Piagetian formal tasks. The independent variables examined were: age, attitude toward science, attitude toward science teaching, high school GPA, college GPA, Scholastic Aptitude Test (Verbal and Quantitative), Sequential Test of Educational Progress (Science Series II, Form IA), Science- Product and the total number of binary operations (logical operators) which are isomorphic with the INRC transformations. The criterion variable was performance on five Piagetian tasks requiring the following strategies for their successful solutions: elimination of contradiction, operations of exclusion, reciprocal implication, combinatorial logic, and syllogistic reasoning. Data were collected through paperpencil tests, individual interview, and from the subjects' high school and college transcripts. The sample consisted of 44 prospective elementary teachers who were sophomores enrolled in "Educational Theory and Practicum", the second (theory) phase of a sophomore-block in education at Oregon State University. The ages of the six males and 38 females ranged from 19 to 30 years with a mean age of 21.6 years. The study was conducted over a period of five weeks during the spring term of the 1975-76 academic year. Pearson product moment correlation coefficient, t-test, and a stepwise technique of multiple regression analysis were employed to evaluate (i) the degree of relationships, (ii) the differences in the mean scores on Piagetian tasks of low and high SCI-PROD subjects, and (iii) which of the predictor variables accounted for how much of the variance on the criterion variable. The Findings Sixty-eight percent of the subjects were formal operational. No significant relationship was found between ATS, ATST or SAT-V and scores on Piagetian tasks. Significant relationships (p < .01) were found between STEP-SCI, SCI-PROD, SAT-Q and scores on Piagetian tasks. A significant difference (p < .10) was found between high and low subjects with respect to SCI-PROD and mean scores on the Piagetian tasks. The ten predictor variables accounted for 40 percent of the variance in performance on the five Piagetian tasks. Conclusion Incidence of formal operations was not universal among the subjects. Both concrete and formal operational strategies co-existed and were applied differentially depending on the nature of the tasks. Subjects who exhibited concrete operational strategies in response to one task were also often capable of the rigorous hypothetico-deductive approach in reponse to a different task. Implication Instructional materials for prospective elementary teachers should be designed to promote a balance between accommodation (conformity to the environment, i.e. concrete operations) and assimilation (transformation of the environment, i.e. formal operations). These materials should be sequenced within the rubrics of multiple concretisation and multisensory approaches. Both the materials and the approaches should mirror the variable but definite proportions of concrete to formal operational students in the learning situation.
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