|Ph.D Student||Danay Rakefet|
|Subject||An Inquiry of Higher-Order Thinking Skills of Students who|
Study the Unit "Treasures of the Sea" within
"Science and Technology for All"
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Reuven Lazarowitz|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
One of the main goals in science education is to provide non-science majors with scientific and technology literacy and mastery of problem solving skill, which require formal cognitive operation. The learning unit “Treasures of the Sea“ described the environment of the sea from different aspects. The originality of this module is in the integration of the sea environment topics in an ecological level of organization, the biome, blending with pedagogical modes of instruction based on the Science Technology and Society (STS) approach. The study was conducted in six classes, with 116 students (16 to 17 years old). The students learned the module during 50 lessons of 45 minutes each. Data were collected through qualitative and quantitative methods. Students’ performance on a Video-Taped Group Test (VTGT) was used for assessing students' cognitive operational stages. The dependent variables were investigated with 1. A test for assessing the academic achievement. 2. A written, open-ended tasks test for assessing the students’ performance on problem solving skills and scoring rubrics for evaluating student work. 3. Classroom observations and conversations with teachers. The results have shown that only 10% of the students were in the formal operational stage and the rest in transitional and concrete stages. Students’ responses were analyzed according to dimensions of problem solving procedure, system thinking, and cognitive levels according to the Bloom taxonomy. Students’ post-test mean scores improved in all criteria in comparison to the pre-test. When students used the step by step approach they achieved significantly higher mean scores than when they used the holistic mode on most of the criteria assessed. The research has brought up a variety of issues related to teaching higher order cognitive skills for non-majors in science. Students had difficulties in the holistic problem solving approach, but made progress following the learning of the module. In most of the criteria, students received higher mean scores by using the strategy of solving problems step by step. The study provides new approach for assessing open-ended problem solving skills. These findings suggest that science instructors should put more emphasis on developing problem solving skills using the strategy of step by step respectively to the specific problem, and on teaching complex scientific ideas. Students who receive this mode of instruction may be given the opportunity to think independently and in creative ways.