|Ph.D Student||Anton Caesar|
|Subject||Cognitive Preferences of 11th Grade Biology Students and|
their Concrete, Transitional and Formal
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Reuven Lazarowitz|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
New high school biology curriculum emphasizes four principles: content knowledge, inquiry skills, nature of science, and attitudes toward science. The concepts and principles presented required students to operate on the formal cognitive development theory (Piaget, 1964).
The purpose of this study was to find the reasons behind the low achievements of Arab high school students in biology. These reasons may be ascribed to three domains: cognitive preferences, students' cognitive operational stages and students' higher order cognitive skills. The study aimed to find the relationships among those domains, and their impact on students' achievements.
The study sample included 633, 11th grade students, from 21 classes in 19 high schools. Furthermore, 20 biology teachers have participated in this study.
Four instruments were used: Biological Cognitive Preferences Inventory (BCPI); Video-Tape Group Test (VTGT) for assessing cognitive operational stages; two learning tasks for assessing students' mastery of HOCS especially, critical thinking and questions posed by students. The four instruments were administrated by the researcher, in the 3rd trimester academic year and the students' achievements, in biology and mathematics were assessed by teachers.
The statistical analysis of BCPI reveals that Principle (P) and Critical Questioning (Q) were the most preferred modes by students and teachers, while Recall (R) and Application (A) were the lowest preferred modes. Teachers' answers in BCPI were assessed and compared with those of their students' on cognitive preferences, and no correlation was found between them. Analysis of VTGT indicates that only 17% of 11th graders in biology classes have reached the formal operational stage, while 58% and 25% of the study sample have been found in the transitional and concrete stages. The cognitive preferences of students at the concrete stage were high in Recall (R) and Principle (P) modes, while students at the formal stage demonstrated higher level of preferences to Principle (P) and Critical questioning (Q) modes. The achievements of students at the formal stage on the critical thinking task were significantly higher than achievements of students at the concrete and transitional stages. No correlation was found between students' cognitive preferences modes and the cognitive level of their questions except those, which were posed to the molecular expert.
This study may contribute to the developers of curricula, textbooks writers and teachers on adapting learning material and instructional strategies to students' cognitive preferences and their cognitive operational stages.