TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
Chapter THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
Statement of the Problem
Scope and Delimitation
Significance of the Study
Definition of Terms
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES
Validation of Instrument
Data Gathering Procedure
Statistical Treatment of Data
PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF DATA
Profile of Teacher-Respondents
Respondents’ Level of Knowledge of the Particulate Nature of Matter
Relationship Between Respondents’ Level of Knowledge of the Particulate Nature of Matter and Profile Variates
Difference in Level of Knowledge of the
Particulate Nature of Matter of Teachers
Respondents’ Level of Scientific Understanding the Particulate Nature of Matter
Unscientific Understanding the Particulate Nature of Matter
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Summary of Findings
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree MASTER OF ARTS IN TEACHING CHEMISTRY, this dissertation entitled “GRADES 3 AND 6 SCIENCE TEACHERS’ KNOWLEDGE AND SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE PARTICULATE NATURE OF MATTER”has been prepared and submitted by JOAN QUITALIG, is hereby recommended for oral examination.
ESTEBAN A. MALINDOG, JR., Ph.D.
Approved by the Committee on Oral Examination on March 2016 with a rating of PASSED.
FELISA E. GOMBA, Ph.D.
FLORABELLE B. PATOSA, Ph.D. LANIE M. PACADALJEN, Ph.D.
VIVIAN L. MOYA, Ph.D.
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Accepted and approved in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in Teaching Chemistry.
FELISA E. GOMBA, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Graduate Studies
Date of Oral Defense
First and foremost, I thank the Almighty Lord for giving me the courage and the determination to finish my educational journey against all odds and difficulties.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my adviser, Dr.ESTEBAN A. MALINDOG, JR., COEd Focal Person for Quality Assurance, who provided friendly guidance, thoughtful questions, at times challenges, and confidence in my ability.
I would like also to thank Dr.FELISA E. GOMBA, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the same time Acting Dean of the Graduate School, for serving as chairman; Dr. FLORABELLE B. PATOSA, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Vivian L. Moya, ITSO Director; and Dr. Lanie M. Pacadaljen, Quality Assurance Director, for serving as members of the defense committee. Their comments and suggestions refined my manuscript.
I have to thank my parents and brothers for their love, support and understanding throughout my studies. To Mon Jeric Miguel M. Macairan, for his financial support, love and for cheering me up in times I felt like giving up. To the teacher-respondents thank you for your cooperation.
My heartfelt THANK YOU!
I dedicate this thesis to my beloved parents and my brothers who have been a great source of inspiration. Without the help and encouragement of my entire family, I would have been unable to complete my educational journey.
This thesis is also dedicated to my dearest adviser, Engr. Esteban A. Malindog, Jr., Ph.D. Now I know him inside not only his outside physical appearance which made a 3600 turn of my impression when he was my undergraduate professor.
I dedicate this thesis to Mon Jeric Miguel M. Macairan, whose patience and encouragement have inspired me.
Also, I wish to dedicate this to all science teachers whose existence inspires me to do greater things in my teaching.
And most of all, to our great creator, our Almighty God, for guiding and giving me enough knowledge in making this study possible.
This study investigated grade 3 and grade 6 science teachers’ knowledge and scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter of public elementary school in the City Division of Catbalogan, Samar. In this regard, the study employed descriptive research designwhich involved36 grade 3 and 36 grade 6 teachers. Data were collected using two-tier diagnostic test.Results showed that teachers have below average knowledge and exhibited no scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter and possess several unscientific understanding.
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1 Interpretation for Level of Knowledge
Table 2 Assignment of Points
Table 3 Interpretation for Level of Scientific Understanding
Table 4 Age and Sex of Respondents
Table 5 Grade Level Taught
Table 6 Number of Years of Teaching Experience
Table 7 Educational Background of Respondents
Table 8 Number of In-service Training Attended
Table 9 Level of Knowledge of the Particulate Nature of Matter of Respondents
Table 10 Correlation Between Respondents’ Profile Variates and Level of Knowledge of Particulate Nature of Matter
Table 11 Comparison in Level of Knowledge of the ParticulateNature of Matter According to Sex
Table 12 Comparison in Level of Knowledge of the Particulate Nature of Matter According to Sex
Table 13 Level of Scientific Understanding of the Particulate Nature of Matter of Teacher-Respondents
Table 14 Unscientific Understanding of the Particulate Nature of Matter
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 The Conceptual Framework of the Study
Chapter 1 THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND
It is a common knowledge among educators that the Philippines implemented a new curriculum last school year 2012-2013. This is a shift from the Basic Education Curriculum to the new K to 12 Curriculum. The new curriculum has been made legal by Republic Act 1033 or the Enhanced Basic Education 2013.
Science is one of the core subjects in the K to 12 curriculum and just like in the old curriculum, it is compulsory for all students in the elementary and junior high school. In the old secondary curriculum, the different disciplines of science was offered separately according to year level – general science in first year, biology in second year, chemistry in third year and physics in fourth year. In the K to 12 curriculum, all the different disciplines of science are incorporated simultaneously in every grade level in a spiral progression starting from grade 3 up to grade 10 (K to 12 Curriculum Guide Science, 2013).
The spiral progression emphasizes no break in the continuum of the science contents from elementary to junior high school. Because of this structuring of the contents, it is expected that some chemistry topics will already be taught in the elementary grade. Indeed, review of elementary science textbooks and curriculum guides revealed the following – states of matter in grade 3, properties of matter in grade 4, changes of matter in grade 5, and mixtures in grade 6.
The unifying theory of the above science contents is the particulate nature of matter (Adbo and Taber, 2009). The particulate nature of matter is fundamental to almost every topic in chemistry such as kinetic theory of matter, atoms, molecules, gases, phase change, properties of matter, conservation of matter, and chemical reaction to name a few (Ayas, Ozmen, and Calik, 2010; Cardellini, 2012). The particulate nature of matter is a complex system of concepts and failure to grasp the scientific understanding of these concepts would affect learning of other chemistry topics and this is the reason why the particulate nature of matter is so important.
Literature and studies conducted around the world revealed that students find it hard learning the scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter from the late 70s up to the present (Novick and Nussbaum, 1978; Aydeniz, Bilican and Kirbulut, 2017). To improve students’ scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter, several interventions have been conducted using different teaching approaches or pedagogies which were found out effective (Williamson and Abraham, 1995; Sanger, 2000; Onwu and Randall, 2006; Yezierski and Birk, 2006; Lekhavat and Jones, 2009; Özmen, 2011; Beerenwinkel, Parchmann, and Grasel, 2011; Morell and Wilson, 2016; Kellya and Hansenb, 2017).
However, pedagogy alone will not warrant excellent chemistry teaching to be effective in teaching abstract concepts in chemistry. A teacher must also possess sufficient subject matter or content knowledge (Nezvalová, 2011; Loughran, Berry, and Mulhall, 2012; Khwaja, 2014; Smith and Plumley, 2016). In the dimension of knowledge of students’ understanding of science or knowledge of learners, teachers must possess sound understanding of science concepts which students find difficult to learn.
In other words, if teachers have content mastery then they will know the misconceptions which students have in a specific topic, as a result teachers could plan effective instruction by analyzing and interpreting students’ ideas. Otherwise, when teachers have insufficient content knowledge they cannot identify students’ misconceptions and they cannot make instantaneous adjustments or changes of their teaching pedagogies to accommodate learning styles of students (Bektaş, 2015).
In the local scene, the City Division of Catbalogan, Samar obtained the following grade 6 National Achievement Test (NAT) for two consecutive school years which revealed low performance in science. For school year 2015-2016, the Mean Percentage Score (MPS) was 66.11% and in school year 2016-2018 it was 52.95% which are below the 75% minimum proficiency level or passing mark. There is adage in the academe that a teacher cannot give what the teacher does not have. When the teacher lacks content knowledge in a specific topic in science then the teacher cannot transmit the full scientific understanding of the topic to students.
Statement of the Problem
This study examined grade 3 and grade 6 science teachers’ knowledge and scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter of public elementary school in the City Division of Catbalogan, Samar during the school year 2017-2018.
Specifically, the study sought answers to the following questions:
1. What is the profile of the teacher-respondents in terms of the following variates:
1.1 age and sex;
1.2 grade level taught;
1.3 number of years of teaching experience;
1.4 educational background; and
1.5 number of in-service training attended?
2. What is the level of level of knowledge of the teacher-respondents of the particulate nature of matter?
3. Is there a significant relationship between teacher-respondents’ level of knowledge of the particulate nature of matter?
4. Is there a significant difference in teacher-respondents’ level of knowledge of the particulate nature matter according to:
4.1 grade level taught; and
5. What is the level of scientific understanding of the teacher-respondents of the particulate nature of matter?
6. What are the specific unscientific understanding held by the teacher-respondents?
Based on the specific questions posted in this study, the following hypotheses were tested.
1. There is no significant relationship between teacher-respondents’ level of knowledge of the particulate nature of matter.
2. There is no significant difference in teacher-respondents’ level of knowledge of the particulate nature matter according to:
2.1 grade level taught; and
This study is supported by the theory called Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) (Kind, 2009). In its original context, PCK represents that particular amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the prowess of teachers and distinguishes a teacher from a subject matter specialist. PCK results from the blending of content knowledge with pedagogical methods. Through that combination of knowledge and pedagogy, teachers gain a perspective that enhances their abilities to present specific topics in a specific subject area.
The notion of pedagogical content knowledge was first introduced by Shulman (1986) as a form of knowledge that connects a teacher’s cognitive understanding of subject matter content and the relationships between such understanding and the instruction teachers provide for students. Bucat (2005) emphasized that there is a vast difference between knowing about a topic (content knowledge) and knowledge about the teaching and learning of that topic (pedagogical content knowledge).
Content knowledge of a particular discipline of science is essential not only for teaching itself but also for the evaluation of text books, computer software and other instructional materials. According to Cojill (2008), teachers with strong content knowledge may teach in a more interesting and dynamic way while those with little content knowledge may shy away from the more difficult aspects of the subject, or approach their teaching in a didactic manner. In the same vein, a Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEED) graduate who possess pedagogy cannot give justice in teaching chemistry because he or lacks mastery of the content knowledge but a chemist or a chemical engineer with professional education training would be better chemistry teacher.
Chemistry, like biology, physics and geology, is a subject of science which has its own concepts, technical terms, and topics, and the teaching and the learning of chemistry is thus unique. It is a must that science teachers possess subject-specific that would enable them to transform a particular chemistry content knowledge like the particulate nature of matter into forms that are understandable for a diverse group of students. This is only possible when teachers have mastery of the content.
In order to achieve the dream of the Philippine government of producing scientifically literate citizens through the implementation of a spiral K to 12 science curriculum, grade 3 and grade 6 science teachers must possess not only mastery of content on the particulate nature of matter but also knowledge of teaching and learning of chemistry; knowledge of chemistry curriculum; knowledge of student conceptions and learning difficulties in chemistry; knowledge of instructional strategies; and knowledge of assessment. All these components should be simultaneously developed and integrated for an effective science or chemistry teachers.
The study is anchored on the Theory of Constructivism. The theory sets the foundation for many instructional methods in science. According to Gunstone (2011), knowledge is not passively received but is actively built by students, which can differ from person to person. The student is the “constructer” of knowledge and not an empty container to be filled with facts is what differentiates constructivism from other educational theories. It is for this reason that teachers when they were students will have different understanding of any concept or idea like the particulate nature of matter. What they have learned are what they will be teaching.
According to this theory, knowledge cannot be transmitted from the teacher to the learner intact but is actively built up or mentally constructed by the learner. From this perspective, learning in classroom settings is seen to require well designed practical activities that challenge the learners; prior conceptions encouraging learners to recognize their personal theories. Practical activities include performing experiments where learners apply the different integrated science process skills.
Constructivism views each learner as a unique individual with unique needs and backgrounds. The learner is also seen as complex and multidimensional. Constructivism not only acknowledges the uniqueness and complexity of the learner, but actually encourages, utilizes and rewards it as an integral part of the learning process. It encourages the learner to arrive at his or her version of the truth, influenced by his or her background.
Furthermore, it is argued that the responsibility of learning should reside increasingly with the learner. Constructivism thus emphasizes the importance of the learner being actively involved in the learning process, unlike other educational viewpoints where the responsibility rested with the teacher to teach and the learner played a passive, receptive role. For learners to construct the accepted understanding of the particulate nature of matter, they should be exposed to varied learning situations that depend on their way of learning.
Von Glasersfield (2001) emphasized that learners construct their own understanding and that they do not simplify and reflect what they read. Learners look for meaning and will try to find regularity and order in the event of the world even in the absence of full or complete information but when such information is not found out, unscientific understanding will be constructed in their minds about the particulate nature of matter.
Figure 1 shows the conceptual framework of the study illustrating, among other things, the variables involved in the study and their relationships.
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Figure 1. Conceptual Framework of the Study
Teachers’ knowledge of the particulate nature of matter will depend to some to their profile variates like age, sex, number of years of teaching experience, educational background and number of in-service training attended. In the same manner, teachers’ scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter will also depend on their knowledge of the topic and profile variates. Knowledge and scientific understanding can only be exposed or known by conducting a diagnostic test.
Scope and Delimitation
This research involved one hundred twelve (12) grade 3 and grade 6 science teachers of the DepEd City Division of Catbalogan, Samar.
The study focused only in determining the level of knowledge and scientific understanding of the particulate nature of matter. Since the topic on the particulate nature of matter is a complex system related concepts, the coverage was limited to the characteristics of atoms and molecules, states of matter, structure of matter and phase changes. The main instrument used was a two-tier multiple choice diagnostic test.
The study was conducted during school year 2011-2012.
Significance of the Study
The results of this study would be beneficial to the following stakeholders.
School Administrators. The findings of this study would serve as baseline information regarding their teachers’ subject matter knowledge competence and thereby encourage their teachers to continually improve their competency by attending seminars and training or pursue graduate schooling.
Teachers. The result of this study would inform them that being a science teacher does not only require the basics of teaching methods but also mastery of the content of the specific science they are teaching. As such, they will be motivated to continually add to their subject knowledge to keep up-to-date with changes in their subject area.
Students. The findings of this study would bring out more information that would help students to try their best in learning science.
Parents. From this study, parents may come to know about their children’s ability or inability to succeed in science. They would somehow give or pay attention in guiding their children and thus, gather from them the strongest support, morally, socially and financially.
Future Researchers. The findings of this study would give information to the future researchers who are interested in investigating deeply into this area on subject matter competence in science.
Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined conceptually and/or operationally for easy reference and understanding of the study.
Level of knowledge. This refers to a point on a scale (status) that describes the quality of learning a person has (Bucat, 2005). The same definition is used in the present study as determined by the Particulate Nature of Matter Inventory.
Particulate nature of matter. It is basically the same as the kinetic molecule theory of matter which means matter is made up of tiny particles (atoms, molecules or ions) and there are empty space between the particles (Zumdahl and Zumdahl, 2014). The same definition is used in this study but is limited to the concepts being measured by the research instrument.
Scientific understanding. As used in this study, it refers to the knowledge of a specific topic or concept one (teacher-respondents) has including the ability of that knowledge to describe, explain and predict a phenomenon that is accepted by the scientific community (Adbo and Taber, 2009). In this study, the same definition is used as measured by the research instrument.
Spiral curriculum. It refers to big ideas, important tasks and ever deepening inquiry must recur in ever increasing complexity through engaging problems and applications; - form follows function; if the goal ( function of curriculum) is increased understanding , then amore spiral-like logic ( form) may be necessary (The K to 12 basic Education Program, 2012).
Unscientific understanding. Also known as misconception; it refers to a knowledge that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking which cannot describe, explain and predict a phenomenon and such knowledge is not accepted by the scientific community (Makaye, Ndunguru, and Mkoma, 2013). The same definition is used in this study as measured by the research instrument.
Chapter 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES
This chapter deals with the review of conceptual and research literature from books, periodicals, research, journal and master’s theses which helped the researchers in conceptualizing the present study.
The Philippines implemented a new curriculum last school year 2012-2013 popularly known as the K to 12 curriculum which means kindergarten plus 12 years basic education (grades 1 to 12) for a total of 13 years of schooling. There are several reasons of the shift from a 10-year basic education to 13-year basic education which will not be expounded because they are beyond the scope of present study.
Aside from the three years of additional schooling – one year kindergarten and two years senior high, an innovation introduced in the K to 12 curriculum. Another innovation is the structuring of some subjects in each grade level. Science and Mathematics are still included in the core subjects of the K to 12 curriculum just like in the old curriculum, but this time they will be taught by spiral progression.
Science is important to everyone. School science education should support the development of scientific literacy in all students as well as motivate them to pursue careers in science, technology, and engineering. Science is useful because of its links to technology and industry, which, from a national perspective, are areas of high priority for development.
Science provides ways of making sense of the world systematically. It develops students’ scientific inquiry skills, values and attitudes, such as objectivity, curiosity, and honesty and habits of mind including critical thinking. All these are useful to the individual student for his or her own personal development, future career, and life in general. These skills, values, attitudes, and dispositions are likewise useful to the community that an individual student belongs to, and are further useful to the country that he or she lives in.
The learning of science is also important for the nation’s cultural development and preservation of its cultural identity. Science is most useful to a nation when it is utilized to solve its own problems and challenges, keeping a nation's cultural uniqueness and peculiarities intact. Thus in many countries, science teaching and learning are linked with culture.
Some Filipino students have gained recognition for their high level of accomplishments in the International Science and Engineering Fair, Robotics Competition, and Physics Olympiad, to name a few. There are also reports of students in far-flung rural schools scoring much higher than the international mean in the case of the Third/Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) or have gone beyond the 75% mastery level in the case of the National Achievement Test (NAT).
However, the accomplishments of a few students are overshadowed by the consistently poor performance of Filipino students in international assessment studies and national assessment studies. Studies reveal that Filipino students have low retention of concepts, have limited reasoning and analytical skills, and poor communication skills (they cannot express ideas or explanations of events and phenomena in their own words) (UP NISMED, 2004). In addition, a large percentage of Grade 6 and fourth year students in selected schools cannot apply concepts to real-life problem solving situations nor design an investigation to solve a problem (UP NISMED, 2005).
One reason attributed to the above scenario was the linear progression of teaching and learning science. In the old curriculum, the different science disciplines are offered separately by year level in high school – general science in first year, biology in second year, chemistry in third year, and physics in fourth year. In the linear progression, students will not understand the concept if teachers plan to teach it using only the teacher’s level of understanding.
This is the mean reason why the spiral progression of teaching and learning science and mathematics. The curriculum is organized in spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned. The idea in spiral progression approach is to expose the learners into a wide variety of concepts/topics and disciplines, until they mastered it by studying it over and over again but with deepening of complexity. The topics and concepts of the four science disciplines (General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) are taught all at the same time which starts from grade 3 up to grade 10.
In the elementary science of the K to 12 curriculum, the following are the chemistry related topics: states of matter in Grade 3, properties of matter in grade G, changes of matter in Grade 5, and mixtures in Grade 6 (K to 12 Curriculum Guide Science, 2013). All these topics are better taught and understood with the particulate nature of matter.
The particulate nature of matter is fundamental to almost every topic in chemistry. Failure to grasp the scientific understanding of this concept would affect learning of other chemistry topics such as atoms, molecules, behaviour of gases, phase changes, properties of matter, conservation of matter, and chemical reaction to name a few and this is the reason why the particulate nature of matter is so important (Ayas, Ozmen, and Calik, 2010).
The particulate nature of the matter is rated by several authors as significant for students’ long-term success in the pursuit of chemistry. An appropriate understanding of the particulate nature of matter is essential to the learning of chemistry (Adbo and Taber, 2009).
How does a phase change occur? How is it explained using the particulate nature of Matter? Usually, a solid is made up of orderly arrange particles called atoms or molecules and in a liquid the particles are less ordered. So, the change from solid to liquid like melting of ice is simply the rearrangement of the particles from an ordered arrangement to a less ordered arrangement (The National Strategies – Secondary, 2008)
The pictures from the studies conducted employing different research designs showed a widespread failure of students to grasp the particulate nature of matter. Findings indicate that students in various grades and nationalities do not understand the particulate-level processes necessary to explain observed phenomena (Gabel, Samuel, and Dunn, 1987; Tsai, 1999; Park, Light, Swarat, and Denise, 2009; Chiu and Wu, 2013; Adadan, 2014).
The same findings were obtained among pre-service teachers. Dindar, Bektas, and Celik (2010) in their study found that pre-service chemistry teachers had some misconceptions or difficulties in explaining some chemistry concepts. They also had partial understanding of aforementioned chemistry concepts. The most challenging topic for the pre-service chemistry teachers was one of the basic topics in chemistry which was the particulate nature of matter.
When learners have difficulties in such fundamental topics, it is much more difficult for them to understand and illustrate the other subsequent topics meaningfully. The next topics which were more challenging for the pre-service chemistry teachers were chemical equilibrium and acids and bases topics. During the inquiry it was observed that the pre-service chemistry teachers had no difficulties in recognizing and defining the concepts, but they commonly have difficulties in the way to express the background knowledge and explaining the concepts. Even the participants related some topics such as gases, evaporation and boiling point, and solubility into their daily life, they had misconceptions or no ideas about the aforementioned topics.
Tuysuz, Ekiz, Bektas, Uzuntiryakic, Tarkina and Kutucua (2011) conducted a study to investigate how pre-service chemistry teachers use macroscopic, symbolic, and microscopic levels and how they integrate teaching strategies at these three levels while instructing phase changes and dissolution. Results revealed that pre-service chemistry teachers faced difficulties in using and explaining both symbolic and microscopic levels for phase changes and dissolution whilst they could make explanations at the macroscopic level.
The same observation was obtained by Valanides (2000) in an earlier study. One-to-one interviews were administered to a sample of thirty female, primary student teachers of different backgrounds in science. A distillation apparatus accompanied by a diagram was presented to each student and its use for distilling liquids was fully discussed. Students were then asked to describe the macroscopic and microscopic changes which would occur when different water solutions were to be distilled.
The results revealed from the interviews support the idea that primary student teachers have limited understanding of the particulate nature of matter and the relation of observable macroscopic changes (i.e., change of phase) with changes in the configuration and energy of molecules, that is, the result of the way molecules move in relation to one another and how they are held together. They face difficulties in understanding the essential changes during chemical transformations of matter, which involve the breaking apart and recombination of molecules, and are unable to differentiate chemical from physical transformations where the structure of molecules is unaffected. They also attribute changes in substances to changes in molecules themselves corroborating with the conclusions of other research studies, where subjects suggested that particles can become hot or cold or even melt.
Very recently, Adadan (2017) explored the change in the nature and quality of pre-service chemistry teachers’ explanations about the phenomenon of dissolving from pre-interview to post-interview in the context of multi-representational (MR) instruction. A total of 29 pre-service chemistry teachers participated in the study, including 17 female and 12 male. Qualitative data were collected through interviews, involving multiple modes of evidence (verbal and visual). Data from pre and post-interviews were analyzed using the constant comparative method. The participants' explanations were analyzed in terms of their nature and quality, utilizing the two different frameworks from previous literature. Findings showed that the nature of majority of participants' explanations changed from descriptive to cause and effect type of explanations. In addition, the quality of participants' explanations changed from naive to more scientific ones from pre to post-interview, frequently indicating a strong or moderate progress towards a scientific explanation. In other words, these findings referred to the development of high-quality sophisticated explanations among the pre-service chemistry teachers as they involved in multi-representational instruction on dissolving.
According to Riaz (2004), the particulate theory of matter is fundamental in science. Scientists use it to explain the behaviour of matter and the complex configuration of the materials that make up objects. The arrangement and behaviour of the particles in materials are abstract concepts because of their invisibility at the macro level. The abstract nature of matter is thus beyond the understanding of primary and secondary students, as well as many teachers.
To teach this concept, teachers must provide clear explanations and representations of the particulate model at the macro level. Where the macro representation of particles is not sufficient to give students a visual image of the micro perspective of particles, teachers must demonstrate the hybrid model of the macro perspective and the micro perspective. Research also shows that the particulate theory of matter is an abstract concept.
Educators, policymakers, school administrators, and even teachers are faced with a common dilemma: what makes a teacher more effective in educating children. Research indicates that teacher preparation and knowledge of teaching and learning, subject matter knowledge, experience, and qualifications measured by the teacher licensure are contributing factors in making teachers more effective (Darling-Hammond, 2006).
However, there are two keys that deserve to bear more weight than the others mentioned above, namely (1) teacher knowledge of subject matter or content knowledge and (2) knowledge and skill in how to teach that subject or pedagogical knowledge. The combination of two keys is called pedagogical content knowledge or PCK (Ayvazo, 2007).
Chang (2014) examined the influence of a teacher professional development workshop on a teacher’s pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of throwing unit in Physical Education class and determined the effects of teachers’ instruction of a four day throwing unit on student throwing performance prior to and following the professional development workshop. A randomized control-group pretest-posttest with a retention test design was utilized to examine the change of the teacher’s PCK and students learning in the teacher’s intact classes.
The following variables were measured: (a) task representation; (b) task demonstration; (c) feedback; and (d) task modification alignment for teachers, and throwing performance (body component levels for the step, trunk, humerus, and forearm, and the ball velocity) for students. Analysis of the collected data showed that teachers’ PCK can be changed as a function of teachers’ knowledge bases. Furthermore, the improved teachers’ PCK can influence the increase of students’ throwing performance. The findings of the study suggest that teacher education programs should provide content courses to improve the teacher’s knowledge bases and many opportunities to improve PCK that influence student learning.
In mathematics education, Sibuyi (2012) investigated the pedagogical content knowledge held by two mathematics teachers as they taught quadratic functions in grade 11 classes. The criterion for selecting the two teachers was that they had consistently produced good results (overall pass rate of 80% or more) in the National Senior Certificate in mathematics examinations for three years or more and thus, they were classed as effective.
The two teachers prepared and taught lessons on quadratic functions in grade 11 while they were being observed. The study focused on teacher knowledge base as exemplified in the teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) - (1) knowledge of the subject matter; (2) knowledge of teaching strategies and (3) knowledge of learners’ conceptions. A case study research method was used to collect qualitative data of the two teachers through lesson observations, lesson plan analysis and interviews.
Analysis of the results suggests that the two teachers have adequate subject matter knowledge but have limited knowledge on the aspects of teaching strategies and knowledge of learners’ pre-conceptions and misconceptions on the topics of quadratic functions that they taught. The study recommends that teachers be exposed to workshops that deal specifically with the various topic specific teaching strategies and knowledge of learners’ pre-conception and misconceptions on the topic of quadratic functions.
The teacher’s own content knowledge and knowledge of resources play important roles in the students’ understanding; in my context, these are the most crucial issues. Helping students understand the concept is possible only when the teacher clarifies his or her own conception of the particulate nature of matter and develops appropriate resources. The teacher must have sufficient content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge at the secondary level to teach concepts comprehensively.
It is important to determine the conceptions of in-service teachers and how they interpret chemistry concepts since their scientific understandings of chemistry take a crucial role; therefore, if they are well educated in the subject of chemistry, then it will be helpful for their students. Understandings of subject matter knowledge become important when researching students’ conceptual understandings because teachers’ knowledge of organization, connections among ideas, ways of proof and inquiry, and knowledge growth within discipline are important factors needed to teach a subject.
The following studies reviewed by the researcher was found similar to the present study.
Cole (2017) conducted a study entitled “Spatial Reasoning and Understanding the Particulate Nature of Matter: A Middle School Perspective”. This dissertation employed a mixed-methods approach to examine the relationship between spatial reasoning ability and understanding of chemistry content of middle school students and their science teachers and the ways both students and teachers talk about matter and chemicals. Indeed, the data showed a significant, positive correlation between scores on the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test of Rotations and the Particulate Nature of Matter Assessment (ParNoMa) for both students and teacher. Moreover, students and teachers with higher spatial ability tended to provide more of appropriate explanation about the particulate nature of matter.
The study of Cole is considered similar by the research since both studies delved on the understanding of teachers about the particulate nature of matter. The study of Cole included the spatial reasoning of teachers which will not be treated in the present study. Another difference between the two studies is in terms of the instrument used in the study of Cole and the present study in determining teachers’ knowledge of the particulate nature of matter.
Another similar study was conducted by Baluyut (2015) entitled “Unpacking Students' Atomistic Understanding of Stoichiometry”. The study investigated how students coordinated symbolic and microscopic representations to demonstrate their knowledge of stoichiometric concepts. Interviews with students asked to draw diagrams for specific stoichiometric situations showed dual processing systems were in play. Many students were found to have used these processing systems in a heuristic-analytic sequence. Heuristics, such as the factor-label method and the least amount of misconception, were often used by students to select information for further processing in an attempt to reduce the cognitive load of the subsequent analytic stage of the solution process.
The study of Baluyut is deemed similar to the present study because it also pertains to the particulate of matter only that it was applied to check the understanding of students on stoichiometry. The differences of the two studies are in terms of research design and respondents. The study of Baluyut used qualitative design and involved students. The present study is purely descriptive- correlational and will involve elementary teachers.
Williams (2015) embarked on a study entitled “Students’ Understanding of Structure-Property Relationships and the Role of Intermolecular Forces”. Using a qualitative approach, the researcher interviewed seventeen students enrolled in either general or organic chemistry courses. She found that, while many students could correctly predict and rank melting and boiling points of various compounds, few successfully used the molecular level structure of each compound to predict and explain its properties.
The study of Williams is related to the present study since both studies used the particulate nature of matter as one of the main variable. However, Williams’ study determined the understanding of students on structure-properties relationship by applying knowledge of the particulate nature of matter. On the other hand, the present study will explicitly determine the level of scientific understanding of teachers of the particulate nature of matter.
Phenglengdi (2015) did a study entitled “Evaluation of the Molecular Level Visualization Approach for Teaching and Learning Chemistry in Thailand”. The research evaluated the use of a molecular level visualisation approach using VisChem animation in Thai secondary schools. The goal was to obtain insights about the usefulness of this approach, and examine possible improvements in how the approach might be applied in the future. The results showed that students had misconceptions at the molecular level, and VisChem animations could help students understand chemistry concepts at the molecular level across all three types of schools. While the animation treatment group had a better score on the topic of states of water, the non-animation treatment group had a better score on the topic of dissolving sodium chloride in water than the animation group.
The above study indirectly related to the present study since the two studies because they delved on the particulate nature of matter. The above study was an evaluation of a computer animation to be used in teaching the particulate nature of matter while the present study will look into the understanding of elementary teachers about the particulate nature of things.
Hammar (2013) conducted a study entitled “Teaching the Gas Properties and Gas Laws: An Inquiry Unit with Alternative Assessment”. In this study, a unit about gas properties and gas laws was modified to include inquiry-based teaching methods. The research questions focused on how these changes affected student results on a traditional end-of-the-unit test and on an alternative assessment. The results showed that an inquiry approach improved the student’s ability to perform on a traditional end of the unit test in the areas of microscopic understanding (atomic level), symbolic understanding (mathematical level) and graphical understanding (relationships between pressure, volume and temperature).
The study of Hammer was on the effect of inquiry approach in teaching the particulate nature of matter. Because of this, the study of Hammer was considered to be similar to the present. The difference lies in the focus and design of the study. The previous study was after the effectiveness of teaching an inquiry approach in teaching the particulate nature of matter which employed experimental design while the present study is aimed at determining the understanding of teachers of the particulate nature of matter and will employ descriptive-correlational design.