|M.Sc Student||Kedmi Yarden|
|Subject||Decision Making and Value Judgment of Students Studying|
"Tresures of the Sea - Use and Abuse" Module
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Tali Tal|
At the focus of this study was teaching about Mediterranean marine environment through controversial case studies in six heterogeneous classes. The research questions were: (1) what are the teaching methods used by the teachers while enacting the curriculum? and (2) how does the learning affect developing higher order thinking skills, such as decision-making, and value judgment?
Data collection included pre- and post performance tasks administered in three classes, interviews with 20 students and four teachers and observations, carried out in six classes. The performance tasks engaged small groups of students, and the data was obtained from groups rather than from individual students.
Four criteria were used for analyzing decision-making: number of justifications, generalization of scientific knowledge, number of aspects included in the response, and synthesis of counter-arguments. Value judgment was assessed following two criteria: students’ awareness to a conflict, and the resolution pattern suggested by the students.
The observation data indicates about classroom teaching that was focused on transmitting biological and ecological knowledge. The teachers paid little attention to promoting thinking skills and to raising moral aspects. In two classes' the teachers provided more varied learning experiences. This was explained mainly by the characteristics of the teacher and the students’ academic level.
Issue-based learning about the marine environment encouraged students to express higher order thinking skills: the performance of the groups showed significant improvements in the number of justifications that appeared in their responses. However, no the improvement in the use of counter-arguments was no significant. A clear improvement was found in the students’ awareness to the conflict between financial, environmental and social considerations. In addition, the students' suggested resolutions were based on environmental and social considerations. An increase was found in the number of complex resolutions and a decline in the number of simple resolutions that was made up of only one consideration (environmental or social). This finding indicates that the groups made insightful decisions based on more complex and richer resolutions.
In conclusion, it appears that teachers would benefit from training and support, that will include: (a) assisting them to present and motivate students in class discussions that deal with controversial issues, and (b) directing them to focus on thinking skills, and (c) encouraging them to provide suitable feedback that will foster students’ higher order thinking skills.