Perceptions, knowledge outcomes and experiences of students in junior secondary science: Impact(s) of using a remote telescope and associated curriculum materials

Year: 2007

Author: Danaia, Lena

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This research investigates the impact of an educational program, based on astronomy that involves using a remotely controlled telescope over the Internet and which employs five aspects of the ideal picture of science education (Goodrum, Hackling & Rennie, 2000), on students' perceptions of science at school and the knowledge outcomes generated. The program was introduced into 101 junior secondary science classes drawn from 30 schools located in four Australian educational jurisdictions. A concurrent nested mixed-method approach involving a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test design complemented by qualitative techniques was used to investigate the data. Specifically, data were collected using: a perception questionnaire; an astronomy diagnostic test; and, semi-structured interviews with a sample of participants. Results show that students exhibited negative perceptions of science at school prior to the commencement of the program and knew little of the astronomical content knowledge that was supposed to be covered in primary school or in the first year of secondary school. The post-occasion data showed that there were highly significant differences in students' perceptions of science and in their knowledge of astronomical phenomena. The research recognises that the way in which science is implemented is crucial to the success of teaching and learning experiences in science education.