Chemistry Teachers' Perceptions on Laboratory Applications: Izmir Sample

Article excerpt


This study aims to reveal to what extent Turkish chemistry teachers use laboratorys effectively and their perceptions on laboratory applications and the factors related to laboratory applications. In this cross-sectional survey, 408 chemistry teachers from the secondary schools in Izmir were given "Teacher Demographic form", "The Scale of Chemistry teachers' perceptions on Laboratory Applications" and "The Questionnaire for the factors effecting Laboratory Applications". The findings revealed that the teachers' perceptions on laboratory applications significantly vary according to their self-efficacy beliefs in laboratory applications, the type of school they graduated, the type of the school they are working at, their experience in teaching, their schools' physical conditions and assesment-evaluation techniques and chemistry program. The type of the experiment they use and the type of their schools are significantly correlated. However, their experiences in teaching, the type of school they graduated, the type of experiment they use are significantly uncorrelated. The teachers from Anatolian high schools mostly choose open-ended experiments while the others form vocational and state high schools choose closed end experiments. It is quite remarkable that all teachers in the survey prefer hypothesis-based experiments.

Key Words

Chemistry Instruction, Laboratory Applications, Teachers' Perceptions.

Having a distinctive role in science curriculum, laboratory activities and experiences are crucial for science learners to comprehend concepts, acquire scientific and problem solving skills, scientific 'habits of mind' as Hofstein and Naaman (2007) stated. Considering this role, the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) in Turkey has been implementing the chemistry curriculum for secondary schools since 2008-2009 academic year including the following goals which are (Talim Terbiye Kurulu Baskanligi [TTKB], 2007):

* Development of scientific processing skills,

* Attainment of relations between Chemistry- Technology-Community-Environment,

* Developing skills for communication, attitude and value.

Since chemistry is an experimental branch of science, laboratory is the only place that is capable of developing students' scientific processing skills. Laboratory applications should include activities which allow students to make choices with exploratory actions. They should be learner-centered, comprise before and after experiment studies, exciting experiments that are connected with real-life rather than boring experiments (Ayas, Çepni, Johnson, & Turgut, 1997; Feyzioglu, 2009; Hofstein, Navon, Kipnis, & Mamlok-Naaman 2005; Lei, 2006; Pavelich & Abraham, 1977; Stewart, 1988). In their paper about studies on laboratory applications in several countries, Hofstein and Naaman (2007) reported that laboratory applications aim at developing students' scientific processing skills, problem solving skills, and draw their attention and develop positive attitudes towards scientific approaches according to objectives of fundamental science education. Garnett, Garnett and Hackling (1995), mentioned that laboratory helps students develop their conceptual understandings, application skills and techniques, interrelations among variables and analyzing skills for chemical analysis and synthesis. They also implied that in order to develop students' research skills which include problem analysis, planning and conducting research, data collection and interpreting findings; laboratory approaches that enable learners active participants need to be followed.

In literature, it is controversial that laboratory applications in science teaching are sufficient and effective. There are several reasons for the ineffectiveness of laboratory applications such as the lack of planning and time (Backus, 2005; Booth, 2001; Hackling, Goodrum, & Rennie, 2001; Hodson, 1990; Jones, Gott, & Jarman, 2000); teachers' lowlevel attitudes toward laboratory applications, negative perceptions and beliefs (Brown, Abell, Demir, & Schmidt, 2006; Cheung, 2007; Costenson & Lawson, 1986; Roehrig & Luft, 2004; Tanel et al. …


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