Science laboratory behavior strategies of students relative to performance in and attitude to laboratory work

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Abstract

The relationship between science laboratory behavior strategies of students and performance in and attitude to laboratory work was investigated in an observational study of 160 laboratory sessions involving 600 class five (eleventh grade) biology students. Zero-order correlations between the behavior strategies and outcome measures reveal a set of low to strong relationships. Transmitting information, listening and nonlesson related behaviors exhibited low correlations with practical skills and the attitude measure. The correlations between manipulating apparatus and observation with practical skills measures were found to be strong. Multiple correlation analysis revealed that the behaviors of students in the laboratories observed accounted for a large percentage of the variance in the scores on manipulative skills and a low percentage on interpretation of data, responsibility, initiative, and work habits. One significant canonical correlation emerged. The loadings on this canonical variate indicate that the practical skills measures, i.e., planning and design, manipulative skills and conduct of experiments, observation and recording of data, and attitude to laboratory work made primary contributions to the canonical relationship. Suggestions as to how students can be encouraged to go beyond “cookbook-like” laboratories and develop a more favorable attitude to laboratory work are made.

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