The Nature and Purpose of Practical Work in the Science Curriculum Materials of Addis Ababa Administrative Region - The Case of Grade Eight

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Addis Ababa University


Science education is in a state of debate since 1960s; hence, refonn becomes characteristic features of the science curriculum and instruction. One areas of debate in science education is the role and aim of practical work though its importance is under consensus. In the Ethiopian context, no clear position statement was given but practical work was taken as an integral parts of the science curriculum and hence designed to give hands-on and minds-on experiences. This paper attempt to examines the nature and purpose of practical work included in the science curriculum materials of the Addis Ababa Administrative Region. Therefore, the science curriculum materials, teacher's opinion and examination booklets were taken as a source of information. Using different content analysis schemes and questionnaire, relevant information was obtained. Evaluation of these practical activities was made with respects to their potential in providing for problem-solving skills. The specific lesson objectives of the guides were analyzed to reveal the nature of science and aims of practical science included in these guides. The results show that the product of science stirred the curriculum, and exceeds by far, even all the process objectives and the affective dimensions were added together. Such nature of science lacks to give experience in the method and interest to science and hence would distort students image of science as a body of knowledge. Analysis of the guide for practical aims showed consistenClj. The majority (73.68% in biology, 66.66% in chemistry and 37.70% in physics) had elucidating the theoretical knowledge. Other important aims of practical work like arousing of interest in the science and technology, skills of using models and developing investigative skills are totally not found. The practical activities in the student textbooks were also analyzed from different perspectives. Unlike what was expected, in the NETP, the result shows consistency with the analysis of aims for practical science. The majorihj of practical (93.75%in physics and 81.81 % in chemistnj) served to illustrate the scientific concepts covered. Inquinj level index of these activities showed that 77% of physics activities were found at a level of 0 and 70% of biology and 75% in chemistry at level 1. Maximum opportunity left for pupils, if at all there is, hence, was to collect data and makes generalizations. Through laboratonj assessment inventory, again, major problem solving skills -planning was totally absent. Analysis and Application categories were poorly treated and Performance was fairly represented. The curriculum material would, therefore, generally fail to represent the framework guideline stated by the policy. Evaluation of resource, in line with the materials and apparatus stated in the textbooks revealed that the analyzed schools have no potential, even to perfonn demonstrations as the only methods of practical teaching, let alone group experimentations. Hence, such result had its own implication- development of practical manipulative skills and problem-solving skills will be deterred. Both the National and school final examination showed consistency in that no practical assessment was found. The majorihj of questions in both exams booklets ask student's specific information and terminologies. Teacher's response also shows consistency in most cases.The outcomes of the study have significant implications from the need to have science education policy, improving the school science curriculum materials in line with the resource available and overall appraisal must be effected with the teacher-training program, assessment technique, resource requirements. Teachers must also be challenged to change their 'old' confirmatory position and should be encouraged to use practical work in school science teaching.



Practical Work in the Science Curriculum