A comparison study on American and Chinese secondary students’ learning progression for carbon cyc...
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A comparison study on American and Chinese secondary students’ learning progression for carbon cycling in socio-ecological systems Jing Chen Charles W. Anderson Michigan State University Xinghua Jin Shanghai College of Business 2009 AERA Annual Meeting, San Diego Apr. 16 th , 2009.

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Environmental and social background

A comparison study on American and Chinese secondary students’ learning progression for carbon cycling in socio-ecological systemsJing Chen Charles W. AndersonMichigan State UniversityXinghua JinShanghai College of Business2009 AERA Annual Meeting, San DiegoApr. 16th, 2009


Environmental and social background

Environmental and social background

  • The topic of carbon cycling has its unique scientific and practical importance. The imbalance of carbon transforming processes is the primary cause of global climate change.

    • US and China are two countries with top carbon emission rates.

  • American and Chinese citizens are by and large uninformed or misinformed about environmental science. (KACEE News, 2005; NEETF & Roper, 2001, Chen, 2006, CEAP, 2008).

The investigation of American and Chinese students’ understanding of carbon cycle and how their understanding progresses over time is a necessary first step to find out ways to improve science education.


Theoretical framework

Theoretical framework

  • Carbon transforming processes

  • Learning progression levels

  • Fundamental scientific principles

Upper Anchor

Lower

Anchor


Research questions

Research questions:

  • How do American and Chinese students compare in terms of the accounts they give for carbon transforming processes and for fundamental matter/energy principles?

  • How do general achievement levels compare for American students and Chinese students?

  • What are the implications for the validity of learning progression levels for these two groups? How do item difficulties compare for American and Chinese students?


Research methods

Research Methods

  • Participants: 600 American and Chinese student in total

    • 150 at middle school level and 150 at high school level for each country

    • Michigan rural/suburban public schools (2 middle and 3 high schools); Shanghai (urban) public schools (2 middle and 2 high non-key schools)

    • Samples are representative for average students in Michigan and average students in Shanghai

  • Assessment items: 31 items

    • Developed in English, translated into Chinese

    • Tried out first

    • 3 test forms, even distribution

    • Middle and high school items overlap

    • 100~200 responses for each item from each group

  • Data analysis

    • Same scoring rubric

    • IRT analysis (Partial credit model)


Environmental and social background

Result 1: American and Chinese Students’ accounts for tracing matter and tracing energy in different processes


Environmental and social background

Result 1: American and Chinese Students’ accounts for tracing matter and tracing energy in different processes

  • Chinese and American students gave responses in the same broad range that could be classified using our 4 achievement levels.

  • Broad similarities between the types of responses that American and Chinese students gave for each carbon transforming process at each level.

  • Similar misconceptions

    • confuse matter with energy; unable to trace matter and energy separately

    • confuse global warming with ozone depletion

    • energy is released when chemical bonds are broken

  • Differences:

    • tracing matter: Chinese students included chemical equations; used the term “organic”, “inorganic” more often than American students

    • tracing energy: Chinese students included names of energy forms and mentioned energy conservation principle commonly; but they generally did not successfully use the principle as a tool to reason about carbon transforming processes, especially in carbon generation and transformation.


Result 2 distribution of american and chinese students responses among levels

Result 2: Distribution of American and Chinese students’ responses among levels

  • American and Chinese students’ responses are distributed similarly across levels

  • Only a small proportion of students’ responses reach level 4.

  • Both American and Chinese students shift toward higher levels from middle school to high school.

  • More Chinese high school students gave level 3, level 4 responses. More American middle school students gave level 3 responses.

The percentages of middle school students’ responses at each level

The percentages of high school students’ responses at each level


Result 3 empirical validation of levels for american and chinese groups a

Result 3: Empirical Validation of levels for American and Chinese groups (a)

Level 4

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

  • The thresholds of the same levels are more clustered in the American Wright map than in the Chinese Wright map.

  • Chinese students gave responses at inconsistent levels across items; suggesting that our achievement levels may not have good predictive power for Chinese students.

  • Some items are easier for Chinese students to reach a certain level, while others are harder for them to reach a certain level than for American students.

Wright map for Chinese students

Wright map for American students


Result 3 empirical validation of levels for american and chinese groups b

Result 3: Empirical Validation of levels for American and Chinese groups (b)

The step difficulties from level 3 to level 4 are lower for Chinese students.

Step difficulties from level 1 to 2 are lower for Chinese students.


Result 3 empirical validation of levels for american and chinese groups b1

Result 3: Empirical Validation of levels for American and Chinese groups (b)

  • Item difficulty analysis indicate that in general, American students perform better for photosynthesis, digestion & biosynthesis, and large-scale items; Chinese students perform better for cellular respiration and combustion items.

    • The item overall difficulties for photosynthesis, digestion & biosynthesis, and large-scale items are higher for Chinese students.

    • The item overall difficulties for cellular respiration and combustion items are lower for Chinese students.


Discussion limitations

Discussion & Limitations

  • The differences in these two groups of learners’ performances may result from factors such as curriculum, standards or teaching focus

    • In Chinese science education, teachers usually focus their teaching on chemical identities, equations and scientific principles

    • Science subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science are less integrated in Chinese science education, students may have difficulty connecting knowledge from different disciplinary areas to reason about carbon transforming processes or large-scale events.

      Limitations

  • The sample in our study is not representative for students in both countries.

  • the translated test may not be considered as an equivalent test for Chinese students


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Share similar general trends of learning progression from force-dynamic to scientific model-based reasoning; perform differently for tracing matter and tracing energy principles.

  • Similar general distribution of responses at each level for both groups; only small percentages of responsesreachedlevel 4 --principled, model-based reasoningin both groups.

  • Chinese students may follow the learning progression differently compare to American students (Levels of Achievement is less empirically valid for Chinese data than it is for American data)

    --For some items, the step difficulties and overall item difficulty of the same item are different for these two groups.


Implication

Implication

  • It is urgent to improve science education in both nations to help more students shift to high-level understanding.

  • American science education could pay more attention to developing students’ chemical understanding and mastery of fundamental principles.

  • Chinese science education could place more emphasis on developing real understanding besides knowledge memorizing.

  • Chinese science education could develop students’ science interdisciplinary knowledge to help them connect multiple carbon transforming processes though multiple scales.


For more information

For more information..

  • Visit Environmental Literacy website at:

    http://edr1.educ.msu.edu/EnvironmentalLit/index.htm

    Thank you!


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