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Stellar Peacemaking

©2006 Journal of Stellar Peacemaking
Vol.2 No. 2, 2007

 
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TEACHING THE MICROORGANISMS LEARNING UNIT: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD ENVIRONMENT AND PEACE OF 9TH GRADE STUDENTS

MAHMOOD KHALIL, PH.D.
The College of Sakhnin for Teacher Education
Sakhnin, Palestine/Israel

This study reviewed student learning and attitudes that were associated with an instructional unit on Microorganisms, that integrated scientific and technological subjects in the framework of the STEPS approach (Science-Technology-Environment- Peace- Society). Examined with questionnaires and evaluation of learning portfolios were students' academic achievements as a reflection of motivation, in addition to their attitudes toward the environment and peace. The sample consisted of 91 junior high school students from regular classes, and one gifted class, in multiple Arab villages. The findings about students' motivations and attitudes were attributed to teaching and learning scientific subjects in connection with societal issues.

 

 

 

The Harari Committee Report (1992) mentioned the need for an integrated framework in the education of science and technology subjects. This instructional approach emphasizes the relationship between science, technology and society (STS). In this study, the concept of STS was enlarged to STEPS (Science-Technology-Environment-Peace-Society) by including the concepts of environment preservation and peace through specific learning tasks in the teaching and learning process.

Microorganisms was a learning topic in a unit that was the basis for this research project, designed for students who were not science and technology majors in high school, and as such who did not require science studies for matriculation exams. However, the students did need scientific and technological literacy with scientific skills. In order to be able to function in their future society and employment, the students had both cognitive and affective needs for this education.

The implemented learning unit, “A Scientific Journey into the Wonderful World of Microorganisms” was developed in the framework of the STS approach (Khalil, 2002a), adding environment and peace topics which might lead to better relationships among neighbors as well as have an impact on attitudes toward the environment and peace. The learning unit contained 15 sub-units which were structured such that emphasis was placed on the variation of the methods of instruction and learning. The main goals were to integrate subjects that were tangent to biology, chemistry, physics, technology and societal topics in a thematic approach. The methods of instruction contained: (1) learning tasks based on the cooperative inquiry group performance of laboratory experiments; (2) reading scientific texts; (3) observation of video movies; (4) field trips; and (5) role playing. The learning unit aided the students acquisition of laboratory skills, scientific reasoning, experience in solving problems, development of attitudes towards societal problems, and the ability to judge them based on knowledge and values. As a means for evaluation, the unit included students' portfolios, written during their studies.

 

Aims of the Study

The aims of this research were two-fold. First examined was the influence on the learning of 9th grade students in the Arab sector of instruction with the unit Microorganisms in association with student motivation. The second goal was investigation of students' attitudes towards the quality of the environment and peace, based on their learning of scientific and technological subjects with the STEPS curriculum. This study embodied post-modern views and the belief that without cultural content and values in education, humans will cause irreversible destruction of the environment as well as continue to enact negative attitudes towards their neighbors. The Microorganisms Unit imparted scientific and technological information as an alternative to an extant lack of information, ignorance and prejudice. It aimed for development of skills needed for critical reasoning, problem solving, inculcation of positive attitudes towards others and an understanding of the meaning of peaceful relations among neighbors.

 

Theoretical Background

Science, Technology and Society (STS) is an holistic and integrative concept, that contains the correlative relations between the development of science and technology and societal aspects. In addition, this integrative learning approach influences the sequence of the scientific content and emphasizes the need for different methods of teaching; methods that include separate units, using small cooperative group activities. These varied methods allow students to be active in the learning process. Additionally, they may enable an evaluation process with written portfolios during the learning engagements (Lazarowitz 2000; Yager, 1984).

According to Heath (1992) teaching and learning using the STS method is characterized by four components:
1) Progress in relation to relative daily subjects and interest of the students in the spheres learned contents.
2) Involvement of the students in the acquisition of skills relating to decision-making, the development of attitudes and the encouragement of the ability of the students to judge scientific, technological and societal issues based on integrated knowledge, rather than on prejudices.
3) The integration of teaching and learning in content domains, such that the active cooperation of the students will be attained by the creative combing of science and educational content by the teacher.
4) Declared aims for the furthering of scientific literacy, incorporating technology and societal issues, care of the environment, and one’s relationship to peace on the level of the family, the society and between national groups.

 

Aims in Science Teaching

One of the main goals of science education is development of (a) high-level reasoning on the subjects of science, technology and society and (b) skills such as problem-solving, critical questioning, analytical decision making and acceptance of responsibility (Zoller; 1990; Zoller, 1993; Solomon, 2005). One of the points made by Zohar and Weinberg (1995), concerning teaching that furthers the development of reasoning, is based on the need for learning material that addresses values and morality. They assert that the development of reasoning, and particularly critical reasoning, makes it possible for the individual to judge matters in a moral manner, thus preparing the learner for responsible citizenship in a democratic society. The learning unit Microorganisms addressed those concerns in the topics and methods of instruction that were used.

 

Teaching and Motivation

Learning through the approach of STEPS may strengthen the motivation to study science (Khalil, 2002b). Ames (1990) opens her article with the following: “It’s important to remember three elements in relation to education: the first is motivation, the second is motivation and the third is motivation”(p. 409).

The motivation can influence learning achievements in the fields that students view as significant and useful in their lives (Johnson and Johnson, 1985). Outside encouragement and benefit is known as outer motivation, whereas inner motivation comes from the interest and pleasure that the learner derives from what is learned. A goal in the STEPS approach was facilitation of inner motivation.

Environmental Education in Science Instruction
Environmental education is one of the basic aspects of STEPS. The primary aim of environmental education is to encourage the learners to be sensitive to, as well as involved and active in their environment. The students will be educated towards contributing (according to their own philosophical principles) to the improvement of the quality of life in the general environment. This will depend upon the readiness of the individual to undertake the responsibility for the consequences of his/her activities, or his/her possible omissions. The concept of enlightened environment was defined as the ability to understand the forces that mold the environment and determine its quality (Zoller, 1990). One’s ability to be active is dependent on one’s understanding as to how one can improve the environment and the quality of one’s life within it.

The purpose of the education of practical subjects is the assumption that practicing them will bring about the betterment of human existence, both on the level of the individual and the society (Schwab,1964). When textbooks are primary tools in education, they are the most important source of the meeting between the teacher and the student, and the majority of class activities are carried out through their use (Wagner-Gershgoren & Lazarowitz, 2006). Therefore, the aspiration is that the curricula material in science and technology should be integrated with societal issues and actual life problems (Lazarowitz, 2000). The Microorganisms learning unit corresponded with the two practices mentioned above.

 

Teaching Microorganisms in the STS Method, and as Peace Education

According to Solomon (2005), education towards peace is vital, and Pearson (1990), emphasized that the role of the science teacher for integrating societal values while teaching science content. Education towards peace was a valued goal, which befitted the STS approach. The task of the instructor in this research was to teach the students ways of reasoning, and the ability to weigh one’s value judgment according to principles and with criteria in different domains: religion, morality, science content, along with social and civic problems. The texts were the didactical instruments for bringing about the changes in relation to the values and methodology of the educational system in the peace process (Pappa, 1999).

It was expected that the inclusion of sensitive subjects, adapting and integrating them into methods of compatible instruction, might bring about a change in previous attitudes and that process would not require a great deal of time (weeks or months). Such instruction should present multiple perspectives and emphasize the importance of taking an informed and value-based position in response to any issue (Koballa, 1989). However, Koballa emphasized that the individual who wishes to convince the student, as does the teacher, must behave consistently and objectively at all times.

Research Design

Sample

The research occurred with ninth-grade junior high school students in Arab schools in the North of Israel. The sample included 91 students, of them 73 (80.2%) participated in regular 9th grade classes: 34 students (37.4%) were from village “B”, 39 students (42.9%) were from village “A” and 18 students (19.8%) were from one class for gifted students. The sample included 46 girls and 54 boys. In village “B” 53% were boys and 47% were girls. In village “A” 61% were boys and 39% were girls. The class for gifted students was made up of 39% boys, and 61% girls; which included 7th, 8th and 9th grade students from different villages in the Arab sector.

The regular classes were chosen at random from within the ninth-grade classes found in the two schools that agreed to accept participation in the research project. The school in “A” village was conspicuous in its negative attitudes towards the possibility of teaching toward peace. This was a result of a serious civil disruption, which occurred in the area, when a number of people lost their lives.

The two schools that participated in this research were government schools; both classes were heterogeneous from the point of view of their learning achievements. The class of gifted children that agreed to participate in the research project was made up of eight 7th graders, nine 8th graders and one from 9th grade: n=18. The teacher in village “A” held a master’s degree in biology, and served as a mentor to other teachers. He received guidance in a special workshop, which introduced him to the mode of instruction and evaluation used in the STEPS approach, including the subject of student portfolios. The students from village “B” and that of the gifted children were taught by the teacher who carried out this research project.

 

Instruction

The Microorganisms content included the following subunits topics:

  1. Introduction to the study of microorganisms
  2. "Garden" of microorganisms
  3. Microorganisms in food and drinks industries
  4. The contest of "What tastes better?”
  5. Bacteria in the service of the human being
  6. The story of a food processing plant
  7. A visit to a "healthy fruit" food plant
  8. Plants, sewers and pollution
  9. Why do birth-givers die?
  10. Antibiotic test for preventing and end-life of bacteria
  11. Diseases caused by microorganisms
  12. The importance of microorganisms in the elements cycles
  13. Genetic engineering from multiple perspectives
  14. Microorganisms in data pools
  15. Antibiotics or probiotics

Three examples of the learning tasks from the learning unit, which included the content knowledge, societal aspects and pedagogical content knowledge and having a strong relation to the environment and peace topics, were presented as follow. These examples illustrate the subunits learning tasks that were contained in the Teacher Guide Book (Khalil, 2002b).

 

Sub-
Unit
Study Subjects Science Content
Knowledge
Technological Aspects Societal
Aspects
Pedagogical Content Knowledge
4 The contest of "What tastes better?” -The biology of food products’ preparation
-Important terms and processes in food producing by microorganisms
-Means for checking variables: temperature, pH
-Technological methods for improving the production of food products in the industry
-Economic aspects
-Relations among neighbors and solving environmental issues in peaceful means
-Cooperation and mutual aiding among neighbor countries for the purpose of improving economy and farming
-Conducting an experiment and team work
-Critical thinking
-Systematic perception
-Graphic presentation
-Identifying problems and suggesting hypotheses
-Class discussion
-Inferring and conclusions
5 Bacteria in the service of the human being - Microorganisms in the food industry -Chemo stat
-Technological limitation in the food industry
-Technologies and food to poor countries -Systematical use of the video tape films
-Logical thinking
-Asking questions
-Inferring and conclusions
6 The story of a food processing plant -Food preservation
-Food spoiling by microorganisms
-Food preservation techniques: sterilization, pasteurizing, freezing, drying, etc… -Wise and proper consuming and human health
-Marketing deadline
-Environment quality, pollution and fish poisoning of a lake
-The location of a food factory plant
-Social and economic profits from food plants
-Critical reading of a scientific article
-Critical and logical thinking
-Deductional and concluding process
-Defining problems and suggesting solutions

 

Prior Knowledge

None of the students had previously studied the subject of Microorganisms. Before the beginning of the study, the students in all the classes were instructed in the following subjects in biology: in the 7th grade they studied the subject of the importance of water to life, using a textbook called Life and Water (Agrest, 1986); in the 8th grade, they studied the textbook called Studies in Reproduction (Kahana & Marks, 1989); in the 9th grade, they were allowed to choose and learn either Chapters in Genetics (Sivan, Orabi, Nahman, Kavee & Cohen, 1988), or Chapters on Nutrition, on the Human Body, Animals and Plants (Sivan, Orabi, Kavee & Abu Alafia, 1993). The Department of Curriculum Development, Ministry of Education and Culture, Jerusalem, Israel issued all those curricula.

Methodology

The research design was based on Quasi-Experimental Design (Campbell and Stanley, 1963). According to Heffner (2004), when Quasi-Experimental Design of pre-testing and post-testing of one group of subjects at different interval occur, it is referred to as ‘follow-up’. When two different groups are compared to see how a new treatment has effects, as was the case in this study, Heffner (2004), noted that " whenever subjects are chosen for groups based on convenience rather than randomization" confounding may result (p. 5.3). The classes involved in this research were randomly chosen from the schools which were willing to participate. Thus, the researcher hoped that the confounding noted by Heffner (2004) was overcome.

 

Research Instruments

The three utilized questionnaires, which are described below, were administered pre-, during and post-instruction.

A. Questionnaire for Measuring Motivation
The questionnaire development occurred in 3 stages:
In the first stage, nine categories were chosen out of 15 (Rozner, 1998), that were found to be relevant to this research. The categories were validated for their content by two educators with doctoral degrees, both who were experts on evaluation. The nine categories were: 1) preparation of homework; 2) attendance; 3) achievement; 4) attention paid to peers during the lesson; 5) expansion of views; 6) interaction with the teacher; 7) active participation; 8) investment of time; 9) enjoyment.

In the second stage, the researcher developed 14 questions that were based on the above nine categories. In order to examine the suitability of the questions to the content of the categories, the content validity of the questions was carried out by the two educators mentioned above.

In the third stage, the questionnaires were part of a pilot project that included two classes that did not participate in the final research: one class from village "B" (33 students) and one class from village “A” (37 students). The purpose of the pilot project was to define the variables that might affect the experimental classes, such as handwriting and spelling, the clarity of composition and understanding. The comments made by the students during the pilot instruction contributed to final formulation of the questions found in the motivation questionnaire.

The final questionnaire was administered pre- at the beginning, during and post-instruction with the unit. The rating of the items included the Likert Scale with rates from 1 to 5. Not correct at all=1; not correct=2; not sure=3; correct=4; very correct=5. Items 6 and 13, which were presented in a negative manner, were also rated from 1 to 5. Appendix A displays the questionnaire developed for and used in this research.

B. Questionnaire for Examining Attitudes Towards the Environment.
The questionnaire "Children’s Environmental Attitude and Knowledge Scale" (CHEAKS) was developed by Leeming, Dwyer and Brachen (1995). The original questionnaire included two sections: one examined the attitudes towards the quality of the environment and the readiness to preserve the environment and the second section assessed the knowledge on the subject of the quality of the environment. Adapted from CHEAKS in this research project was the first section on attitudes which included 36 items. The questionnaire was translated into Hebrew, validated by Tal, Dori and Lazarowitz (1996), and used with the 5th and 6th grades. This adopted questionnaire was adapted and validated in the following five stages for use with 9th grade classes in the Arab sector.

First Stage – From the original 36 items, 16 selected ones were considered to be relative to the student’s age level and to the cultural environment in the Arab sector. The items which were not chosen, examined attitudes found to be no relevant for this study, (an example: an item which dealt with the use of air conditioners, since there are few homes in this sector that use them.

Second Stage – The questionnaire in its new form, was examined for validity on the scientific, pedagogical and educational content by a science educator in comparison to the original questionnaire.

Third Stage - The questionnaire was then translated into Arabic by the investigator.

Fourth Stage - This translation was validated by the use of Reverse Translation Method. The questionnaire was given to a teacher who was an expert in both languages (teaches in both Hebrew and Arabic). She translated the questionnaire back to the Hebrew language and then a comparison was carried as to its relativity to the original reverse translation. Non-relative items which emerged were rephrased in a discussion meeting between the teacher and the researcher.

Fifth Stage - Two experienced teachers from the Arab sector validated the questionnaire for its scientific and educational content for the Arab students. Both teachers hold M.Sc. degrees, one in biology and one in science education.

Scoring procedure: The weight of each item was scored by the LIKERT Scale, from 1-5: entirely not correct=1, not correct =2; not sure= 3; correct = 4; very correct = 5. Since the items 12, 14 to 22 and 25 to 27, were formulated in a negative manner, and rated from 5 to 1. The final questionnaire was used before students began to study the learning material, and presented to them again at the end of the unit. Appendix B displays the Attitudes Toward Environment Questionnaire.

C. The Questionnaire for Examining Attitudes Towards Peace
The original questionnaire examining attitudes towards peace was developed by Pasternack and Tzedkiyahu (1994). This questionnaire previously examined the attitudes towards the peace process of 499 students, 106 education majors, and 230 teachers in the Hebrew sector. The attitudes examined were: the degree of belief in peace, the price willing to pay for peace, education towards peace in the school and the role school could play educating towards peace. The original questionnaire contained 15 questions.

In this research project, this questionnaire was validated and adjusted for the use in ninth grade classes in the Arab sector in the following manner:

Only items relevant to the Arab sector were chosen. For example, an item which enquired "as to whether education towards peace may prejudice the willingness of adolescents to join the army" was not selected. Items which were considered suitable for the Arab students were adapted in consultation with the original developers: (for example: item 7 “Is it possible that education towards peace might affect one’s Jewish identity?” was changed to: “Is it possible that education towards peace might affect Palestinian identity?”

In summation, 9 of the 15 items were adjusted. In the next step, the questionnaire was validated using the same five stages that were illustrated for the questionnaire on the quality of the environment. The answers of the students were scored using the LIKERT scale: full agreement = 5 to complete disagreement = 1, on the positive items, while the items 1 to 5, 9 and 10 which were negatively phrased were scaled: full agreement = 1 to complete disagreement = 5. See Appendix C.

 

Pilot Study for Validation of the Questionnaires

The questionnaires were tested in a pilot study in two classes which did not participate in the study. In village “B” the class was made up of 33 students; in the second class in village “A”, there were 37 students. In the pilot study, factors that might affect the clarity of the wording and reading comprehension were checked. Student completion of the questionnaires lasted for about 15 minutes. The verbal comments students made while answering the questionnaires contributed to the final phrasing used in this research.

The reliability of the questionnaires was examined by the use of the Alpha-Cronbach Test with the study sample. The research questionnaires, the number of items and the Alpha-Cronbach values are displayed in Table 1.

 

Table 1: The reliability values on motivation, attitudes towards peace and environment questionnaires

 

Research Questionnaires No. of items Assessments


Scores range

(N) Students

Alpha Cronbach values
Motivation 14 Pre 1-5 75 .79
    During 1-5 58 .73
    Post 1-5 80 .80
Attitudes 16 Pre 1-5 71 .79
toward environment   Post 1-5 68 .73
Attitudes 9 Pre 1-5 85 .62
toward peace   Post 1-5 82 .72

 

 

Results

The mean scores of the students, on motivation were analyzed by the use of the t-test, and 2-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Table 2 presents the mean scores, standard deviations, t-test and two-way ANOVA values.

 

Table 2: Mean scores, standard deviations, t-tests and two-way ANOVA on motivation by study groups

    Pre   Post t-test  
Study Group   X SD))   X (SD) 3.72- **
Regular class "B"   3.70 (38.)   4.16 (44.) 10.56- ***
Regular class "A"   3.72 (45.)   4.52 (35.) 2.38- *
Gifted Class   3.94 (76.)   4.45 (36.) **F=4.31  
F values 1.32   **7.57    
>Scheffe     "B"-"A"    

* p<.05

** p<.01

*** p<.001

 

The results presented in Table 2 indicate that the mean scores achieved were significantly higher in all the three classes following the study of the learning unit. These results confirm that students’ motivation was higher following the learning process.

2. Students’ attitudes towards the environment.

The mean scores of the students towards the environment were analyzed by the use of the t-test and ANOVA. Table 3 displays the mean scores, standard deviations, t-test and two-way ANOVA values.

 

Table 3: Mean scores, standard deviations, t-tests and two-way ANOVA on attitudes towards environment by study groups

 

    Pre   Post    
Study Group   X (SD)   X SD)) t  
Regular class "B"   3.76 (54.)   4.02 (43.) 3.26- **
Regular class "A"  > 3.98 (80.)   4.15 (55.) 1.41-  
Gifted Class   4.10 (51.)   4.34 (20.) 1.88-  
F 1.73   2.91 F=1.77  

** p<.01

The results show that the students in village “A” showed a positive and significant increase in their attitude towards the preservation of the environment after studying the learning unit. There was a small increase in the mean scores on the attitudes of students in village “B” and in the class of the gifted students, but the differences were not significant.

3. Attitudes towards peace.

The mean scores of students' attitudes towards peace were analyzed by the use of the t-test and ANOVA. Table 4 displays the mean scores, standard deviations, t-test and two-way ANOVA values.

 

Table 4: Means scores, standard deviations, t-tests and two-way ANOVA on attitudes towards peace by study groups

 

    Pre
Post


Study Group
X (SD)
X (SD) t
Regular class "B"
3.76 (57.)
3.67 (66.)

17.


Regular class "A"
3.83 (62.)
4.13 (54.)

3.02-

**

Gifted Class
4.20 (21.)
4.28 (26.)

1.16-


F *4.10
***9.15 **F=5.30


Scheffe

"B"-Gifted
"B"-"A", Gifted


* p<.05

** p<.01

*** p<.001

 

The results showed a significant improvement on the attitudes of the students towards peace among the students only in village “A”. No improvement on attitudes towards peace occurred in the class in village “B”. In their pre- and post-test responses, the students in the gifted class were more positive in their attitudes towards peace than the students in the 9th grade classes in both villages “B” and “A”. It seemed that studying the learning unit in the STS mode, affected student attitudes towards peace. Some believed that the educational system can affect the attitudes of students, both in their comprehension of ideas and the stereotypes that they hold.

 

Discussion

In this study it was found that integration of environment and peace topics in a learning unit can have an impact on students' positive attitudes. Therefore, the concept of STS can be enlarged by adding the letters of "E" and "P", so science, society, technology, environment and peace will result in STEPS.

A. Motivation

One can explain the rise in motivation in the learning unit on microorganisms, by three factors that were connected to the contents of the unit:

 

First Factor: Learning Methods

The students were able to “wander” through the various tasks that they were asked to complete. They were active and at the center of the learning activities and they were held responsible for learning the material as they progressed from stage to stage. Among the modes which they found most favorable were the laboratory experiments, the field trips, the movies exhibited and the use of cooperative as well as small groups for learning particular tasks. A connection between that manner of learning and motivation has been recognized in other research projects (Ames, 1990; Bandura, 1977; Maher & Midgley, 1991).

Second Factor: Diversity in Content

This factor contributed in all learning tasks and lessons, adding new learning experience. For instance, a student that finds no interest or understanding in one task could freely choose a task in accordance with his/her inclination and interest. The results of this approach, as many parents noted in surprise, was that their students began to interest themselves in the library – dusting off books, and spending long hours by delving into the various subjects that came up in class.

Diversity in teaching and learning modes as well as a variety of contents are factors, which are associated with an increase in student motivation (Gardner,1993). This diversity also increases the prospects of the students to adjust to more advanced and developed reasoning processes, as well as increasing their motivation.

Third Factor: Connection of Science, Technology and Society with the Lives of Students

This connection enabled students to grasp the learning approach and content as interesting and relevant. The students understood the importance of the study unit on a personal level, as well as on a social level. This enabled the increase of their motivation to learn, and as such raised their learning achievements as well; their achievements rose with their motivation. This is comparable to the definition of pleasure given by Johnson and Johnson (1985); as the level of investment of the student increases in desire to improve their learning achievements, particularly in the fields that are significant and worthwhile for them, they find more pleasure in learning.

B. Attitudes Towards the Quality of the Environment and Peace

The aims of the Microorganisms Unit were centered on the desire to foster positive attitudes on the part of the students in relation to the quality of the environment and toward peace. The improvement of attitudes towards the quality of the environment and peace may have resulted from diversified learning experiences in a number of subjects, open questions asked during learning tasks, discussions in the class on questions and subjects concerning the quality of the environment and peace, as well as encouragement of open and personal learning activities. All the indicators of these factors were evident in the portfolios that the students kept. This meant concentrating on the tasks carried out, writing essays, holding interviews and commenting on the research they did into information on various subjects that they themselves compiled. One may conclude that the progress that students made on the subjects of the quality of the environment and peace were primarily influenced by two factors: the use of relevant content and the diverse methods of teaching and learning.

In relation to the quality of the environment, research projects carried out on this topic highlight the value of integrating environmental aspects in the learning units (Solomon, 1993; Dori & Hershkovitz, 1996; Tal, 2000). In these research results, it appears that after completing the study of the learning units, there was an improvement on the students' attitudes in relation to personal responsibility, more active participation and the initiation of projects that were connected to the environment. The explanation can be found in the content of the learning unit that combined subjects dealing with the environment, integrated with teaching and learning methods. This was particularly true with the emphasis on class discussions, learning trips and television programs. The use of alternative assessment approaches, made it possible to identify the means by which students can become more creative and open to new ideas. A change in students’ attitudes is possible if sensitive subjects are taught in a manner which is suitable to them (Koballa, 1989). The process of change in students’ attitudes does not necessarily require a great deal of time and can be measured in weeks or months. An instance of this was the time required to teach the unit on microorganisms; 36 hours.

This research may be considered to be a pilot project in the domain of attitudes towards peace. This is the first research project carried out in Palestine/Israel that examined the influence of a learning unit, combined with student attitudes towards peace, as a social issue, in combination with subjects in science, technology and the environment. The results showed a positive change in students' attitudes towards peace. This constitutes a challenge to the educational system, which should accept this task at this particularly difficult time, more than at any other time in the past. According to Pasternak and Tzkayahu (1994) educators should consider one of the major tasks of the school is to educate towards peace. In essence, the school is the only institution that all adolescents pass through, which is in a position to influence the formation of important attitudes. The recognition as to the importance of involving the students in the actuality of peace issues, whether they are immediate, or long running, should not be left out of the curriculum, in Jewish or Arab schools.

The important skills emphasized and activated in this learning unit were: attentiveness, the development of weighing options, the solution of conflicting items, the ability to explain and give reasons for one’s ideas, the ability to bridge and link differences, non-violent communication and the acceptance of multicultural variation.

The results of this research project highlight the value of encouraging the development of curricula and learning units which integrate the subjects of peace in science and technology curricula. This requires the education of teachers and curriculum developers towards this approach, with emphasis on teaching strategies that have varied and relevant means of evaluation. The aim of this kind of approach is to inculcate the principles of equality, the acceptance of others with mutual respect, attentiveness and the ability to nonviolently express oneself - all of the above aims lead to good citizenship.

 

Limitations

In this study the random selection of the sample was restricted to available classes as described above, and it was limited to teachers who were willing to participate in the study. Two teachers, including the researcher who participated in the intervention, formed a team who analyzed the learning materials and the teaching and evaluation methods during the duration of the study.

Extension

We would like to continue this study in the future by including classes from Arab and Jewish schools who are neighbors, with requirements of the learning tasks on environment and peace, to collaborate in order to solve problems on preserving the environment and developing peaceful solutions for associated problems. Therefore, a restriction will be again anchored on geographical limitations of close schools. A new dimension of problem solving skills will be added to the evaluation process, which may further illuminate peace processes advanced through education.

 

 

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Appendix A- Motivation questionnaire for students

Technion- Israel Institute of Technology The Department of Technology and Science Education

Dear students: We will be very grateful to you for answering the following questionnaire.

Thank you very much:

Name: ____________ Class: __________ School: ____________ Date: _________ The following items relate to the "Microorganisms" learning unit. Please read each item and mark+ in the appropriate place, which reflects your evaluation  
Category Item Absolutely wrong wrong Not sure True Absolutely true
Home work I prepare my lessons and home works on Microorganisms with much of pleasure and enjoyment          
Attendance I make all efforts not to miss or to be late to this lesson          
Desire for achievement I do my best to got better achievements in this subject          
Attentiveness I learn better from discussions and students' questions and answers during the lesson          
Widening of horizons I use the library to learn more on this subject          
Enjoyment I am tiered and bored during the lessons in this subject          
Interaction with the teacher I initiate talks about this subject with the teacher after the lesson          
Interaction with the teacher I like the teacher's instruction in this subject          
Active participation I like to participate in this lesson          
Widening of horizons I use computerized and non-computerized resources in order to know more about this subject          
Time dedication I am interested to keep studying this subject more and more          
Widening of horizons I would like to increase the number of lessons in this subject          
Timededication I do not dedicate enough time to the subject requirements          
Enjoyment I enjoy the variation in the instructional modes used in this subject          

 

Appendix B Attitudes toward environment questionnaire

Technion- Israel Institute of Technology The Department of Technology and Science Education

Dear students: We will be very grateful to you for answering the following questionnaire.

Thank you very much:

Name: ____________ Class: __________ School: ____________ Date: _________

The following items relate to the "Microorganisms" learning unit. Please read each item and mark+ in the appropriate place, which reflects your evaluation

  Item Strongly Agree Mildly Agree Mildly Disagree Strongly Disagree
1 I would be willing to stop buying some products to save animalsí lives.        
2 I would not give $15 of my own money to help preserve the environment.        
3 I have talked with my parents about how to help with environmental problems.        
4 I have asked others what l can do to help reduce pollution.        
5 I have written someone about a pollution problem.        
6 I do not let a water faucet run when it is not necessary.        
7 I am frightened to think people donít care about the environment.        
8 I get angry about the damage pollution does to the environment.        
9 It makes me happy when people recycle used bottles, cans and paper.        
10 I get angry when 1 think about companies testing products on animals        
11 It makes me happy to see people trying to save energy.        
12 I am not worried about running out of water.        
13 I do not worry about environmental problems.        
14 I get upset when I think of the things people throw away that could be recycled.        
15 It frightens me to think of how much energy is wasted.        
16 It upsets me when I see people use too much water.        

 

Appendix C Attitudes Toward Peace Questionnaire

Technion- Israel Institute of Technology

The Department of Technology and Science Education

Dear students: We will be very grateful to you for answering the following questionnaire.

Thank you very much:

Name: ____________ Class: __________ School: ____________ Date: _________

Please cycle the item on the a, b, c or d, that reflects your stand. You can choose only one letter.

1. Do you believe there will be peace between Israel and Palestinians in the near future?

a. I absolutely believe

b. I believe

c. I am not sure

d. I do not believe.

e. I absolutely do not believe  

2. Are you pro or against the principle: Peace for land?

a. I strongly agree

b. I agree

c. I am not sure

d. I disagree

e. I strongly disagree  

3. Is the education system able to influence the youth attitudes toward different issues related to the political process?

a. Of course it could

b. It could

c. I am not sure it could

d. It could not

e. Of course it could not  

4. Is it the Education system responsibility to change the youth perception of the Jewish as an enemy?

a. Of course yes

b. Yes

c. I am not sure

d. No

e. Of course not  

5. Is it the Education system responsibility to change negative stereotypes about the Jewish people?

a. Of course yes

b. Yes

c. I am not sure

d. No

e. Of course not  

6. There are those who claim that it is not the education system's responsibility to deal with education for peace. Do you agree with this statement?

a. I strongly agree

b. I agree

c. I am not sure

d. I disagree

e. I strongly disagree  

7. Will the education for peace hurt the Palestinian identity?

a. Very sure

b. Sure

c. Not a lot

d. A little

c. Absolutely not  

8. Do you approve the meetings with the Jewish youth as a part of your studies in the school?

a. I will absolutely agree

b. I will agree

c. I am not sure

d. I will not agree

e. I absolutely will not agree  

9. Are you interested with the issue of education for peace?

a. I am very interested

b. I am interested

c. I am not sure it is interesting me

d. I am not interested

e. It does not interesting me at all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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