The environment, our society, the advancing technology and science at large are very important components in life as they guide the advancement of the world in the specific lines hence are continuous when conflicting concerns arise. Many scholars, environmentalists, scientists, politicians, managers and other concerned people who believe that it’s appropriate for every one to have an understanding of what these elements entail, support these subjects. These proponents also advocate for a context of education that is literacy based particularly in the context of social responsibility, personal duty and ethical concerns. For that reason, the STSE programs and subject matters have been premeditated upon and developed in an attempt to understand science and technology as being very complicated and socially entrenched venture; To encourage the development of a decisive, scientifically and technologically knowledgeable community capable of comprehending and accepting STSE issues. A society empowered to reach informed and conscientious decisions and competent enough to act upon these decisions. The STSE is therefore an advantageous and evidently a defensible objective, nonetheless, in real practice; in many occasions, it has been fraught with hardships and marginalized. Dilemmas frequently arise when teachers start critically addressing concerns of power, decision-making, knowledge, moral sense and responsible achievement in the curriculum of science. This paper hence looks at STSE in both contexts of theory and practical application.
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Statement of the Problem
There are assertions that consistently indicate that in environmental and science education, many of the students emerging successful attribute most part their knowledge of the scientific and environmental concepts, issues and dilemmas to the non-formal education (out-of-school) sources and experiences.
One of the long-term objective of science, environment and technology education is to help students learn how to deal with the pace of scientific and technological progress and train them for an ever-changing world. Environment, Science, Technology and Society have been one of the major learning elements of science education at Key Stage 2 (Secondary 1 to 3) in Hong Kong. It aims at developing students’ understanding of scientific to technological applications, social issues, and their day by day experiences. Furthermore, they consider the effects of human activities on the environment and take sensible action in conserving the environment (Aikenhead, 2006, p. 129). Science teachers may plan lessons to emphasize themes of science, technology and society, connect science concepts and instruction explicitly to students’ personal experiences. Well, use of sources beyond textbooks may be powerful to stimulate students’ interest and attitude on learning (Foley, 2008, p. 9).
The objective of the project is to carry out an action research to study the effectiveness of using out-of-school sources (collection of documentary television programmes) to stimulate students’ interest and attitude on learning socio-scientific issues and their awareness in their daily lives (Foley, 2008, p. 9). Data from vast researcher support the findings and indicate that students’ attitudes and qualities are attributable to comparable experiences. Students understand more during learning when school education setting offers stronger environmental learning experiences. Significant to this are the programs that impact of out-of-school experiences extensively to learning process yet remain significant (Foley, 2008, p. 9).
Significance of the Study
The research is beneficial in that it helps to understand that teaching sciences, environmental concepts and technology is becoming tricky considering that some of these precepts only seem to be in theory and not a reality (Bakar et al, 2006, p. 19). For that reason, students learning under usually school setting will not be able to appreciate then reality of these facts (Bakar et al, 2006, p. 21). However when documentaries are used, they stimulate students’ mind and thoughts to appreciate that whatever is being taught is something real. The research is also important to instructors and students of science, environment and technology courses as determine whether out-of-school sources are effective or not (Pedretti, 2000, p. 39).
Teaching from sources outside the school setting achieve better learning sources that inspire the learning process that the in-school sources. These better results are because of the purpose and goals of making such sources especially the scientific and environmental documentaries. They cover a wider subject mater and the programmes are also diverse meaning that learning is enhanced by connecting theory to reality (Pedretti, 2000, p. 41).
The purpose of education or teaching is to impart knowledge to the students. However achieving this objective is usually not so easy considering that studies indicate that even the best minds do not always understand what is being taught in class (Abell & Lederman, 2007, p. 79). Furthermore, learning is not automatically a consequence of teaching. Students learn from different experiences and contexts some being outside the classroom. The out-of-school setting seems to be more efficient considering that it is more diverse (Aikenhead, 2006, p. 129). The purpose of education is to gain knowledge that will be useful and applicable in real world setting. During the teaching process, some practitioners put more weight on environmental awareness and positive reception of scientific developments. Others however, emphasize that education should be about acquiring essential life skills, useful knowledge and practical experience for taking on the tasks or for problem solving (Cross & Price, 1999, p. 776). Out-of school sources are tantalizing, cover wider subjects and are more diverse (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 6). Out-of-school sources refer to the documentary programmes that are brought on television, visit to museums, wildlife camps, nature centres, communities and other electronic media (radio, magazines and non-school scientific publications) source among others.
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Cognitive researches indicate that even when a teacher who is regarded as the best instructor is used many students even the one considered to be talented often understand less that what is thought to have been understood (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 6). With great determination, students at the end of the term or semester sit for examinations and they give answers according to what they were taught or read. Doing some probation, however, outcomes show that their understanding was imperfect or distorted if not totally wrong (Abell & Lederman, 2007, p. 79). These findings indicate that parsimony is essential in determining the educational objectives. Schools and the specific instructors should be able to pick the vital concepts and skills to put emphasis on so that learning can think on the quality of understanding the content being taught and application rather than the volumes of information being delivered (Cross & Price, 1999, p. 776).
How Students learn
The process of learning is quite complex and it is imperative that the vital insights into learning and attainment of knowledge is addressed. Due to such curricula and instructions in schools and colleges can be adjusted to try and create a more student-focused setting rather than using a teacher focused model (Fensham, 1999, p. 756). Students can be enabled to connect theory learnt in class with the real-life circumstances and concentrate on thinking and understanding rather than memorizing, practicing and drilling (Aikenhead, 2006, p. 129).
Students understand better when they are taught major concepts and allowed to actively and constructively get to participate in the learning process. During learning process, paying attention is essential for comprehension. This is enhanced by observing the instructor keenly, memorizing concepts, being thoughtful and setting objective goals. Development of cognitive activities cannot be achieved when the learners are not enthusiastically participating learning process. Learning being chiefly a social activity, interaction is the major activity (Abell & Lederman, 2007, p. 79). When there is improved relationship and cooperation between the instructor and the learners, then the students are likely to continue performing better these relationships are interactions are encouraged or supported.
Including meaningful activities in the teaching process is essential for developing interest of the student and ultimately achieving better understanding. It has been found that, many school activities are usually less meaningful to the student with many of them neither understanding why they are carrying out certain activities nor the basis and use of the activities (Cross & Price, 1999, p. 776).
The ability to learn becomes more effective when there is some concept that is already known. The ability to link new information with prior understanding is critical for learning (Fensham, 1999, p. 756). New knowledge is hence built on the previous facts. Even though previous understanding play a bigger role in attaining new knowledge, doing it without a strategy is very risky. This is because when effective strategy is applied, then students can understand, to reason, to memorise and offer problems (Aikenhead, 2006, p. 129). Student usually develop some strategies would assist them in finding solutions beginning from an early age. For instance, kindergarten student rehearse a list of items when sent to the store to pick them.
As student grow up and gain more knowledge and experience, they eventually end up inheriting the social positions that filled by adults. The education system is changed with the responsibly of preparing students for the future roles (Bakar et al, 2006, p. 21). In this regard, it is usually very essential that education be improved constantly to match the change that the world is undergoing in the many aspects including technology, science and environment (Elias, 2003, p. 8). Learning is also a social activity. The education system therefore tend to assume some other roles that are intended to strengthen academics, others want to emphasize on critical thought, other insist on attaining good character, others to stop violence, drugs and other dangers while other want top take up even bigger role of talking care of every community problem (Fensham, 1999, p. 756).
Learning hence needs to be a caring relationship or experience. The learning environment should not threaten students rather to offer challenge for them to develop the zeal to learn more (Elias, 2003, p. 9). The student need to feel welcome and appreciated when attending a learning session. This makes them be seen as resources rather than liabilities and it is more encouraging. Life skills are essential for survival in the challenging world (Elias, 2003, p. 10). They need to be addressed explicitly in schools at virtually every stage of learning. Students, through this mean are offered a greater range of skills for self-guidance for their acts in and outside school. These skills include responsibility, managing oneself, self-control, creativity in solving problems and being goal-oriented (Elias, 2003, p. 11).
Moral Reasoning: Discourses
With the dawn of the 21st century advancement in education especially technology and science, professional associations now recognize that there is need to have a widely conceptualized environmental, technological and scientific literacy that embrace informed decision-making, capacity to understand, analyze and synthesize data, to sagaciously deal with moral reasoning and ethics and to understand the links intrinsic in socio-scientific issues (Fensham, 1999, p. 756). To attain a practical degree of literacy in science, environment and technology, there is necessity of practice and experience in attaining these patterns of the mind (i.e. critical thinking, scepticism, open-mindedness, and accepting) (Zeidler & Keefer, 2003, p. 8). Many nations have placed a lot of emphasis on moral and ethical aspects of environment, science and technology education. For instance the US association on the advancement of science established a vision to achieve high level of life-long literacy (Fensham, 1999, p. 759). There are basically five elements that are pertinent to achieving this goal and are recommended to all for application in the world and in classrooms. The criteria are critical to scientific, environmental and technology discourse and reasoning;
Utility: this determines whether the proposed skills and knowledge in the content to be taught will appreciably improve the student’s long-term prospects or whether it would relevant in decision making (Poisson, 2000, p. 45).
Social responsibility: this determines whether the content in the curricula is likely to assist them to take part intelligently in decision making concerning social, environmental and scientific issues (Zeidler & Keefer, 2003, p. 9).
The intrinsic value: knowledge has to have that inherent benefit meaning that the content presented should portray aspects of science, environment, technology that are pertinent to the survival of humanity or very pervasive in the social culture that general knowledge would not be complete without it (Zeidler & Keefer, 2003, p. 8).
Philosophical value: this is where the content of education is expected to resourcefully contribute to the ability of students to deliberate the long-term questions of humanity like life and death, veracity and perception, doubt and sureness or individual responsibility and collective duty (Poisson, 2000, p. 45).
Childhood enrichment: the content should be able to enhance childhood – childhood is an opportunity and a right that is not solely for the outcome in future.
The importance of not separating environment, society, and science from the social responsibility is reiterated in education systems (Fensham, 1999, p. 756. Consequently, cultural issues are a main concern of the terms that describe scientific literacy. Moreover, the prominence of cultivating elements like scepticism, open-mindedness and curiosity are clearly necessary for education to be beneficial.
Using New Media
The advent of printing technology in the 1400s greatly revolutionised the process of learning since it enable books to be printed in large quantities with diverse subjects being addressed and they managed to be distributed to all corners of the world. Making them was very affordable and dissemination of knowledge was efficient and extensive (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 8). However this had their setbacks for instance revising content was very costly since it require re-publishing and re-distributing.
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Introduction of electronic media is now offering some better alternative to books and they are able to traverse sections regarded as beyond the print world since they are not only able to offer text but also offer interactivity, sound effects, animation and greater colour effect (Saul & Hand, 2009, p. 246). Distribution can not only be freely disseminated but this can also be done instantaneously though networking on the internet. The cheap combat discs and can also be stored in libraries (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 10). CDs can be reproduced cheaply and faster and in s short time, most people can access the contents of the CDs. With increased spread of technological gadgets, computers are also progressively becoming the most practical means of enhancing education for the youth (Saul & Hand, 2009, p. 246). The dropping cost of computers is making them affordable even at the poorest regions.
Most of computers can read CDs or DVDs and this makes them widely acceptable means of carrying educational content and out-of school materials. These media can be able to carry over 300,000 pages of content in small portable discs. Moreover it is easy to share discs and as indicated, their reproduction is cheaper (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 16). One CD can serve the entire class or library.
The internet is another important media to be used for learning especially as the out-of school source. The use of internet is wide enough to reach many people around the world and it is also affordable. Information can be disseminated to a vast area and internet makes it very easy to constantly update the information as new knowledge is discovered (Saul & Hand, 2009, p. 249). The information can also be customised for specific clients. With internet offering response option, interaction is made possible. The efficiency of using internet is assured by the global trends in technology.
There is hope that in future, practical application of internet and computer will be more vast and cheaper. Specifically, the dissemination of educational content out-of school will then be customised by electronic media (Chung-wai & Weekly, 2005, p. 6). An entire library can be shipped in very limited space like few boxes of DVDs which can be reproduced later.
New Path for Scientific Literacy
The research about society, science and technology literacy is informed by various theoretical traditions, various programmatic attempts and various objectives or conceptions of competency. There have been suggestions by scholars that new research should be introduced into education to ensure that the convergence of science, technology and environment literacy is informed accordingly. Research as a fundamental element of education directs students through purpose, related data analyses and literature then to a particular point. Therefore, the matters concerning the methods, appropriateness of the model to be used, the rigor of the research and the ability to generalise the outcomes are worth investigating.
Though then varied opinions can be looked at as a paradigm war, the different perception still offer an opportunity for researchers to examine several perspectives of human condition. Highlighting this issue are several topics to assist in clarification.
Identifying central and helpful concerns: most of the time people get fascinated in a paradigm of researching and therefore only have a question concerning the restrictive structure that allows researchers to deal with, disregarding the basic duty and usefulness. This is whereby researchers only go through the checklist that is connected to technological and mechanistic characteristics of the method rather than concentrating on the question. In essence, the basis of a research should be the question. Questions fulfilling the worthiness should be able to deliver best results.
Connection among research question, methodology and the program: the importance of the problem to education is a good question to pose. However the method to b sued to get the relevant information has to be well designed and connected to the study. The potential to rethink enables the researchers to adjust and correct the content that will be given to the students (Sabar, 1985, p. 67).
Research Design and Sample: The study design considered the socio-scientific issues on the use of energy the theme of the project. There are totally five secondary one classes. Two of them taught by two different teachers using television programmes as the source and instrument for teaching and the rest 3 classes will keep on using the textbook content to learn. The students will form three groups uniformly according to their performance in the last semester examination. A pre-test will be conducted which aims at probing their understanding and attitude.
The pre- and post-test for every student were identical so that they would provide reliable quantitative data on students’ understanding and attitude on the content. The students’ assignment was qualitatively studied addressing all the elements of education (purpose, method, outcome, etc) to compare the differences between normal classes and selected classes (Cohen et al, 2007, p. 34).
Target Population: The target population for this particular study is the students at Key Stage 2 (Secondary 1 to 3) in Hong Kong. High school is a very good and appropriate target for the study considering that there are varieties of science, subject and environmental issues that get introduced at this level (Cohen et al, 2007, p. 34). Students also tend to develop a better part of their cognitive awareness at this level. They are also curious to got extra mile of using non-school sources like documentaries for their studies as well.
Sample Size The researcher used 15 students from the five classes. This sample size is effective for this study, given that it is small enough for management and still enough to capture the attributes that the researcher is interested in as far as, out-of-school sources are concerned (Cohen et al, 2007, p. 34). Each of the classes contributed three students for the study. These were comprised of eight boys and seven girls for gender balance.
Data Collection: The researcher was interested in quantitative data. The tool adopted in this study was the questionnaire, which was structured. The researcher opted for the questionnaire given the short duration within which the studying was and the humble budget that the researcher was operating (Jenkins, 1999, p. 703). A questionnaire does not take a lot of time to complete and analyze, and it is cheaper than other methods such as direct observation.
A questionnaire was administered upon the completion of the teaching; the questionnaire will be given to the whole class, which is used to explore students’ perception on learning STSE issues using television programme (Cohen et al, 2007, p. 34). About three students from each group was followed by an interview that probe more deeply into their views about the use of television programmes selected, learning outcomes, and their suggestions and ideas about stimulate students’ interest on learning science.
A series of documentary television programmes is chosen as a part of the science curriculum. The uses of different kinds of energy sources, e.g. fossil fuel, geothermal energy, wind power, hydropower and solar energy etc will be introduced. The applications, technological limitations, impacts to the environment and the society will be discussed (Cohen et al, 2007, p. 34).
Validity: the study’s reliability is on the fact that it tested the ability to understand what was taught, the ability to memorize concepts being presents, the ability to link theory with the reality therefore fulfilling the goal of education and the long-terms benefit education is intended to have on students (Pedretti, 2000, p. 51).
Analysis: this report is complied describing the study with analyses of the quantitative data collected from the pre- and post-test and questionnaire. This study critically looked for evidence of the effectiveness on the use of documentary television programming on promoting students’ interest in learning science and technology as well as attitude of using natural resources with the consideration of impact to the society and the environment (Jenkins, 1999, p. 703). However, overall, the out-of-school sources are influential and greatly affected the way student appreciated education. Using documentaries helped to create the link between the theory learnt and the actual implication in real world (Staver, 2007, p. 56). This has a big impact on the interest of children. Use of books alone makes the education process viewed as a way of preparing for examinations rather than acquiring skills for long-term benefit and application to solve issue concerning the society or the environment (Jenkins, 1999, p. 703).
Students who were taught using documentaries had higher rates of understanding and they developed more interest to study science and environment. However, those using books did not indicate any increased interest in education (Jenkins, 1999, p. 703).
The study indicates that using the out-of-school sources is effective is assisting the students to learn accurate and practical concepts that relate to science and environment. Education from by resources that are real and appear familiar bring out results that are positive compared to use of unfamiliar sources. This is the reason why visiting a place for a second time is easier and bring a feeling of comfort (Vosniadou, 2001, p. 14). Therefore, when using the out-of school sources, the ore-instruction content provides an overview of what will be discussed when studying begins and looks at what would be done to improve learning in almost every aspect of education (Wellington, 2000, p. 84). The documentaries on television are effective in that thy create emphasis on dealing with reality and makes the connection between the real object with the environment in a way that students can see and integrate.
Students also indicate that mass media especially the use of television brought in more knowledge or that the knowledge gained from it was easier to remember, even use, and apply the same to certain situations (Wellington, 2000, p. 84). Furthermore, using television in learning was more convenient since one can just sit and watch while paying attention and occasionally taking notes. In classroom and use of textbooks, one is required to read a lot of time going through volumes of content in a manner that is tiring and time consuming (Yörük et al, 2009, p. 56). Connecting the reality to the theory read is quite difficult since some scientific concepts or environment facts appear more like fiction and require practical enhancement that can only be found in television documentaries.
Documentaries also develop the right attitude among students, an attribute that encourages positive scientific values and concerns. Student would prefer to watch a documentary rather than read the ‘big books’ because the documentaries are interesting and they leave a long-term impact (Yörük et al, 2009, p. 56). Reading however requires repeating, revising, memorizing and rehearsing in order to understand some complex concepts. This is very tasking and discourages development of the right attitude for studying science, technology and environment.
Students using television show greater awareness because of the ability to link new information being acquired to the facts that are already known. When they are brought out on the screen, they actually make sense to the students and thy can internalize, integrate and apply in real situations (Vosniadou, 2001, p. 14).
Recommendations and Conclusions
Students learn well when they are presented education in an interesting learning environment. According to Vosniadou, students understand best when they are to actively participate in the learning activities that are considered beneficial in the real life situation and are culturally relevant. Tutors or instructors can connect science and technology with students’ interests, personal objectives, their lives and societal concerns about these issues in order to capture their attention and activate their motivation to learn. Science, technology, society and environment (STSE) education is becoming an issue of great consideration as far as learning, societal and environmental responsibilities are concerned. This is described as a societal awareness body that attempts to enhance an understanding of the integration between science, society, technology and the environment. This is done in the spirit of assisting students to realize that the significance of technologic and scientific developments in their daily lives and to promote a voice of active citizenship (Pedretti & Forbes, 2000). STSE education aims at developing important life and community responsibility skills and perspectives (Aikenhead, 1994). To be:
- Personally and Socially responsible
- Critical thinkers in such situations and exercise sensible decision-making
- Able to establish ethically and morally sound decisions concerning issues that arise from scientific and technological impact on people’s lives
- Knowledgeable, skilled and confident when expressing opinions and taking responsibility for their action and to deal with the real world issues in science
It is beneficial to integrate out-of school sources in learning to include television programs, documentaries, science movies, magazines and the internet to enhance understanding of concepts.
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