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Using Personal Meaning Mapping to gather data on school visits to science centres. Anthony Lelliott Marang Centre, Division of Maths and Science Education, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. anthony.lelliott@wits.ac.za. My study.

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using personal meaning mapping to gather data on school visits to science centres

Using Personal Meaning Mapping to gather data on school visits to science centres

Anthony Lelliott

Marang Centre, Division of Maths and Science Education, School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

anthony.lelliott@wits.ac.za

my study
My study
  • School visits to the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory Visitors’ Centre
  • 26 grade 7 and 8 students during school visits.
  • Centre is didactic rather than free-choice.
  • Today’s presentation: learning rather than affective and ‘fun’ aspects of visit.
  • Study did not use ‘technology’ to gather data

MIL-RM London 2007

hartrao
HartRAO

MIL-RM London 2007

visitor learning
Visitor Learning
  • Contextual Model of Learning (Falk and Dierking 2000)
  • Human Constructivism (Novak & collaborators)
    • Combination of Ausubel’s theory of meaningful learning with principles of constructivism
  • Conceptual Change theory revised by Alsop and Watts (1997)

MIL-RM London 2007

research questions selection
Research Questions (selection)
  • To what extent do students learn in the process of a visit to a planetarium or the visitors’ centre of an astronomical observatory?
  • What are students’ individual experiences of the visit?
  • How do students’ interests and prior knowledge affect the learning experience of a school visit?

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methods
Methods
  • Participants: 26 students from 4 private and public schools in and around Johannesburg.

Teachers not involved in the study.

  • Convenience sampling.
  • Data collection pre- during and post-visit.
  • Students completed Personal Meaning Maps.
  • Students interviewed on basis of what they had written/drawn.
  • Structured interview on aspects of astronomy.
  • Observations & field notes during visits.

MIL-RM London 2007

concept mapping
Concept Mapping
  • Students taught how to map their own understanding of concepts, connecting them appropriately (e.g. “x causes y”, “a is part of b”).
  • Used prior to, during and after a topic is taught in the classroom
  • Students’ maps often compared with an expert map, and scored accordingly.

MIL-RM London 2007

personal meaning mapping
Personal Meaning Mapping
  • Prior to visit
    • sheet of paper, phrase prompt. Visitor uses ink colour 1
    • Interview based on PMM. Ink colour 2.
  • Post visit
    • Original PMM returned to visitor. Additions/deletions/ alterations. Ink colour 3.
    • 2nd interview. Ink colour 4.

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personal meaning map
Personal Meaning Map

MIL-RM London 2007

analysis of pmms
Analysis of PMMs
  • No ‘correct’ map to compare with. A visitor’s PMM is their personal construct of knowledge/understanding.
  • Falk recommends analysis across four dimensions of learning: extent, breadth, depth, and mastery. Mainly quantitative.
  • Used qualitatively in my study.

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gugu a student who apparently learnt nothing from the visit
Gugu – a student who apparently ‘learnt nothing’ from the visit

Post-visit score

Pre-visitscore

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gugu s pre visit pmm
Gugu’s pre-visit PMM

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some of gugu s pre visit knowledge
Some of Gugu’s pre-visit knowledge
  • She listed the nine planets: Jupiter is the biggest planet and Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun.
  • She referred to stars as being “a lighting thing” created by God, and that they are our “friends, family and negbour” (sic).
  • When probed about her PMM, she confirmed that “God created stars so that it can shine at night”.
  • Although she knew the term galaxy she was unable to explain its meaning or its relationship to the term Milky Way.
  • She also appeared to have differing ideas on aliens. Having said she doesn’t believe in them in the structured interview, she mentioned that some planets have them in the PMM.

MIL-RM London 2007

some of gugu s post visit knowledge
Some of Gugu’s post-visit knowledge
  • She “saw which bottle goes high and low” – a reference to the ‘Coke bottle rockets’ which students used in an activity.
  • Additional planets to the nine named ones.
  • Additional facts about the nine planets.
  • Black spots on the Sun.
  • Various features of Mars: water, land, and orbit.
  • A description of the Moon landing and the time taken to get there
  • A star bigger than the Sun.

MIL-RM London 2007

implications of gugu s pmms
Implications of Gugu’s PMMs
  • During the structured interview questioning, she showed no improvement in her knowledge or understanding.
  • PMM showed that Gugu had acquired several facts about astronomy which would not be apparent during conventional pre-post test methods.
  • Out-of-school learning needs to use a variety of methods (e.g. PMM, interviews, essays, drawings) to determine the extent of learning.

MIL-RM London 2007

use of pmms in association with field trips visits
Use of PMMs in association with field trips/visits
  • An alternative to diagnostic testing prior to starting a topic or going on a visit.
  • Teachers could ask their students to complete a PMM, in order to determine the prior knowledge of each member of the class.
  • A relatively brief analysis would enable a teacher to tailor his or her teaching to the students’ prior knowledge, as well as target individuals and groups for enrichment or remediation.

MIL-RM London 2007

pmm in research issues
PMM in research - issues
  • Where possible, spend adequate time in preliminary analysis of the PMM prior to the initial interview.
  • Similarly, spend adequate time in analysis of the PMM before the second round of data collection, and prior to the second interview.
  • Experiment with the two alternatives of handing the original PMM back to the participants for addition/correction and asking them to complete a new PMM.
  • To what extent does the very act of completing a PMM result in possible changes in people’s thinking about the topic?

MIL-RM London 2007