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Abstract

The authors' purpose in this study was to compare the integrated science process skill development of a cohort of American youngsters who studied science for several years in an activity-based, materials-oriented program to a group of Japanese youth whose science program is also activity based and a group of American youth whose science programs are textbook based and reading oriented. The means and standard deviations from Japanese and American textbook-based data on eighth graders were available from earlier research. The authors administered an integrated science process skills test to 1,291 eighth graders in a northwest suburban Chicago school district whose activity-based elementary science program is nationally recognized. Eight hundred twenty-five students who had begun school in the district by the second grade were used for the comparison. Ninety-nine percent confidence intervals were calculated about the scale and total score means for all groups. Results show that for all scales and the total score, the confidence intervals of the American activity-based science group are above and do not overlap the corresponding confidence intervals of the American textbook science group. For three out of five scales and the total score, the confidence intervals of the Japanese group are above and do not overlap the corresponding confidence intervals of the American textbook science group. For two scales the confidence intervals overlap. For four test scales, the confidence intervals of the Japanese and American activity-based science groups overlap. For one scale and the total score, the Japanese confidence intervals are above and do not overlap the corresponding confidence intervals of the American activity-based science group. Discussion focuses upon an explanation of the more favorable performance by the Japanese group on the total score and implications of the results for representing more clearly the crisis in science education.