Determine The Areas Of Focus And Shaping Education Essay

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This chapter presents a thematic review of works done by other researches in the same area. The main aim of the chapter is to develop a good understanding of the problems that will help determine the areas of focus and shaping the methodology that will be used in the study.

What is Scientific Literacy?

As science educators, it is important to have a clear definition of what being scientifically literate means and what science outcomes students must attain. Several authors have reviewed scientific literacy and have come to the consensus that it is more than mere disconnected knowledge regarding science terminologies and methodologies (Laugksch, 2000). According to Murcia (2007), it is a broader construct including an awareness on the nature of science and how science is related or associated to society.

Clark and Slotta (2000) mentioned that scientific literacy is the ability to generate ideas, hypotheses and theoretical models, and/or employ those of others; design and conduct investigations and experiments; and evaluate data and results from these investigations and experiments. Another definition offered by Coles (1997) as cited in Cotumaccio (2008) claimed that scientific literacy is a combination of an understanding of scientific evidence, science ideas, and personal and interpersonal skills. Therefore, scientific literacy entails good observation, problem-solving, and decision-making skills (Duggan & Gott, 2002). For Flower (2000) as cited in Cotumaccio (2008), a science literate person possesses the following skills: basic science vocabulary, knowledge of science processes utilized in testing hypotheses, and deep appreciation on the impact of science and technology in society.

Combining and condensing these definitions, one might conclude and summarize that scientific literacy is general knowledge of overarching science concepts, scientific method, and related skills essential for people to observe, analyze, and evaluate information. In this way, decisions are evidence-based. This definition is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences. They said scientific literacy is "the knowledge and understanding of the scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity" (NRC, 1996, p. 22).

The Need for Scientific Literacy

In this day and age of increasing scientific advancements and technical sophistication, it is imperative that each citizen have sufficient knowledge and skills to comprehend and discuss science and technology trends. Greco (2007) suggested that "scientific citizenship" in which the general public or laymen does not only have basic knowledge of science concepts but also skills necessary to decipher, analyze, and meaningfully discuss information spread by the scientific community and mass media. The importance of scientific citizenship is confirmed in the Scientific Communications Act of 2007 (HR 1453) first introduced in the US House of Representatives last March 9th, 2007. It illustrated the need for the general public to understand scientific topics as well as scientists that can effectively communicate with the masses.

Ultimately, the goal of science educators is to inculcate scientific reasoning and thinking to students by putting much attention on teaching skills and strategies that enhance students' capabilities in carrying out these functions. One major focus must be on teaching scientific literacy, which include the skills so that students can carry out "thinking that is purposeful, reasoned, and goal-directed, the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, and making decisions" (Halpern, 2003).

Scientific literacy is undeniably beneficial to students while in school and when entering tertiary level and the workforce. When students exhibit high science literacy, they will be more likely to be employed in meaningful and productive jobs in the future. All areas of employment need employees that are able to learn, reason, think creatively, make decisions, and solve problems (NRC, 1996). Concerns about scientific literacy among the general populace are still looming (Duggan & Grott, 2002) and how it affects their ability to function effectively at work and their private lives. Confirmation of these concerns is based on the studies and surveys measuring the public's knowledge and understanding of science concepts. In one study, only 30% of America's workforce apply science in their in their work. Only a small fraction of the workforce, merely 4% deal with pure science (Duggan & Gott, 2002). In the case of engineers, health care professionals, computer programmers, economists and policy analysts, all of them utilize scientific literacy skills in their day-to-day dealings in their workplace. When considering how ordinary citizens make use of scientific literacy in their private lives, rates increase substantially. Some of them do not even realize they already had used scientific literacy skills in solving their problems. These skills are employed in making informed decisions in matters which concern their health, nutrition, the environment, and public policy (Lee, 2007).

Scientific literacy skills assist an individual's reading and understanding on the current issues of popular and professional science publications which is very much accessible in the Internet. They allow the general public to comprehend and critically respond to media reports on science-related issues and become "empowered to hold and express a personal point of view on these issues" (Lee, 2007). As a result, the general public will be able to discriminate pure, accurate scientific facts from pseudo-scientific information. According to the Royal Society (1985), when the public is uninformed, they are vulnerable to accept misconceptions with factual scientific realities.

The relationship between science curriculum and preparation it furnishes for making students apply science in the real world is evident. "Without basic science literacy, adults cannot participate effectively in a world increasingly shaped by science and technology" (COSEPUP, 2007). Improved scientific literacy is thus essential to anyone living in a society in which scientific and technological advances are prevalent. Citizens possessing these skills gain more confidence in explaining and dealing science and technology-related issues, and consequently able to negotiate effectively in society (Laugksch, 2000). With this, high school students need mastery of skills required for scientific literacy. This is the drive emphasized in national, state, and local Standards for Science Teaching and Learning (NRC, 2006).

Obstacles to scientific literacy

There are numerous road blocks to achieve scientific literacy among students. One of these is the content-laden curriculum and emphasis on standardized tests (Duggan & Gott, 2002). Many educators felt that contents in the national science standards make it overwhelming. Wheeler (2007) as cited in Cotamaccio (2008) contended that to cover all the content in the standards would mean 22 years of schooling. Therefore, science educators felt obliged to focus on the content rather than the interests of the students leading to what researchers refer to as a "mile-wide and inch deep" curriculum. This is evident when assessing the New York State curricula and the Regents examinations. Many teachers refer to the Regents exams in structuring and designing their syllabus and justify to students the reasons for learning the content of the syllabus (DeBoer, 2000). Specifically, these researchers found that, relative to the curricula in other countries, science curricula in the United States is unfocused, with more topics at each grade level than any other nation; highly repetitive, with topics introduced early in schooling and repeated every year; and undemanding, with topics covered in little depth before moving on.

So that scientific literacy will be increased among students which would help them become successful in the real world, there has to be a radical reduction of content and a corresponding assessment is needful. The Institute of Biology (1998) pointed out that there is a high priority to assess how much students have acquired a broad amount of knowledge based on the content of the curriculum. This will eliminate strategies that develop skills that are necessary for scientific literacy such as encouraging students to participate in discussing scientific ideas, scrutinizing validity of sources, and evaluating evidence (Duggan & Gott, 2002).

If content of the curriculum is reduced to small basic elements, there will be more opportunities for educators to teach skills necessary to enhance scientific literacy. Countries like China and England are adopting this measure. For instance, the education department in Hong Kong proposed for reforms in the curriculum. In this reform, students will undertake activities that will enhance their ability to make decisions rationally when given major scientific issues that have personal or national significance. Furthermore, students will be instructed to gather evidence, assess the reliability and validity of the data, resolve ambiguities, determine the strengths and weaknesses of solutions and recommendations, and make projections on possible consequences of choices made (Hong Kong Consultation Document, 2000).

In the book entitled The Disciplined Mind by Gardner (2000), he discussed that students must be provided activities that allow them to dig deeper into a particular issue and learn and act like a scientist when he said "The purpose of such immersion is not to make students miniature experts in a given discipline, but to enable them to draw on these modes of thinking in coming to an understanding of the world" (p. 188). This suggests that to develop scientific literacy among students, there must be concentration on quality of understanding and not on the quantity of information obtained from classroom discussions. In an ideal world, content covered in a science class would be acquired from student inquiry which will place emphasis on developing the students' learning skills which include critical thinking, critical reading, critical writing, and using technology (Murcia, 2007).

Deficiencies in the Science Curriculum

The 2003 Assessments of Mathematics and Science Literacy proved that science literacy in the US is below average (National Science Board, 2006). The PISA evaluates the ability of 15-year-old secondary school students from developed countries to "apply scientific and mathematical concepts and thinking skills to problems they might encounter, particularly in situations outside of a classroom" (NSB, p. 21). Moreover, the US yielded lower scientific literacy scores than the 15 participating nations. Still alarming is that from 2000 to 2003, there seemed to be no changes in the scores of US students in scientific literacy (Lemke et al., 2004).

Conventional science curriculum has not successfully improved scientific literacy because the objective is leaned towards teaching content which are disconnected in the lives of students and do not encourage them to develop skills necessary to enhance their literacy in science (Duggan & Gott, 2002). As asserted by the Committee on Increasing High School Students' Engagement and Motivation to Learn (2003, p. 60), "teaching at the high school level is challenging in part because students are expected to master discipline-specific knowledge that does not have obvious relevance to real-life settings." Challenges are amplified in those from low income households and residing in urban areas where students tend to be unprepared for high school because they have low competence in mathematics, science and English. Home life for most of these students further aggravate the issue because of the lack of stable family income, housing, and health care. Because of these conditions, achievement of students in overly demanding science curriculum suffers. This frustrates students resulting to apathetic and angry adolescents who are less motivated to learn science concepts (Naperstek, 2002).

The gap between achievement and economic status becomes apparent when the statistics presented in PISA's 2003 Assessments of Mathematics and Science Literacy is carefully investigated. Students who are eligible for subsidized lunch garnered lower mean science scores and less likely unable to reach proficient levels compared to students who are non-eligible. "These gaps related to family income were substantial. For example, students eligible for free or

reduced lunch were at least three times less likely to score at or above the proficient level

for their grade in both mathematics and science" (NSB 2006, p. 20). Thus, teaching science literacy should be intensified in the Bronx for instance where students experience difficulties in science and on Regent exams because of low English, math, and science competencies.

The NSB (2006) defined a proficient student as someone who has acquired the necessary scientific literacy skills in analyzing data and applying scientific concepts in real-life situations. To accomplish this, students must demonstrate the required knowledge and reasoning skills for understanding concepts in earth, physical, and life sciences, and their interrelationships with other disciplines. Data suggest lack of this ability among urban, low-income students. Earlier education did not equip students with study, organizational, communication, and analytical skills to successfully cope with the challenges of secondary school science courses where these skills are needed. An integrated science curriculum is therefore necessary to aid students in becoming more scientifically literate by creating interest and understanding and preparing students to be proactive members of society.

How students learn science

If educators are interested in enhancing the design of their existing science curriculum then it is reasonable to understand how science knowledge is acquired by students. Research outcomes in the cognitive and developmental sciences could very well provide the basis for curriculum developers. These results are enumerated in several publications How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000), Knowing What Students Know (Pellegrino, Chudowsky, & Glaser, 2001), and How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom (Donovan & Bransford, 2005). From these references emerge three principles of learning science, as follows: 1. Before students attend their respective science classes, they already have preconceived notions on how the world works. When their initial understanding is not engaged, new concepts and information will not be easily grasped or learning will merely be for the sake of examination and revert to their initial understanding when they have finished a science course. 2. In developing competence, the students need to be build a strong foundation of factual knowledge, understand the facts and ideas using the conceptual framework, and organize knowledge in such a manner that facilitates retrieval and application. 3. If teachers apply a 'metacognitive' approach to pedagogy it will help students exercise control over their own learning since they will be taught how to define learning goals and monitor their progress (Donovan & Bransford, 2005). Based on these findings, design of curriculum materials should be aligned to established scientific knowledge and current conceptions should engaged and challenged. Second, it is essential to include both facts and a conceptual framework. Third, curriculum and instruction should embed 'metacognitive' strategies.

Implementation of an integrated science curriculum

As cited in Furner and Kumar (2007), Jacobs (1989) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (1989) explained that planning and teaching science in an interdisciplinary or integrated approach will involve two or more teachers, common planning time, the same students, and teachers who are experienced in professional collaboration, consensus building, and curriculum development. Another author, Robinson (1994) pointed the following requirements: an understanding of the nature of subject matter and need for teachers, deep knowledge on methods of interdisciplinary subject matter correlation, and strategies motivating students to use process skills. He added that the lesson or unit to be taught in this approach should satisfy the following conditions: should be complementary or in support of some aspects of instruction in the subject area, should support content and/or learning skills in at least one subject area, and should be designed in such a way that permits students to integrate and use new knowledge and skills.

Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde (2005) summarized the following teaching strategies known to be "best practices" in teaching science subjects: manipulative/hands-on learning, cooperative learning, discussion and inquiry, questioning and making conjectures, justification of thinking, journal writing, problem-solving approach, and use of technology. Problem-solving appeared to be an area where there is frequent integration of mathematics and science and problem-based learning might be a successful strategy for integration.

Pros Associated with Integrated Curriculum

The subject of curriculum integration has been under discussion for the last half century, with a resurgence occurring over the past decade (Pickens & Eick, 2009). Knowledge development, the increase of state mandates relating to educational issues, fragmented teaching schedules, concerns about curriculum relevancy and a lack of connection and relationships among disciplines have been all cited as reasons to move towards an integrated curriculum (Jacobs, 1989; Pickens & Eick, 2009). Thus increase in research on integrated curriculum is a result of changes in requirements placed on the education system.

Perkins (1991) supported the notion that teaching must serve its purpose of knowledge transfer and thoughtful learning. He said: "A concern with connecting things up, with integrating ideas, within and across subject matters, and with elements of out-of-school life, inherently is a concern with understanding in a broader and a deeper sense. Accordingly there is a natural alliance between those making a special effort to teach for understanding and those making a special effort toward integrative education". This statement advocates that curriculum integration is a means to a more meaningful educational experience. However, national achievement levels and increased drop out percentages have posed a threat to any educational intervention hoped to increase student success. In addition to the fact that curriculum integration may be an effective strategy to make education both manageable and relevant, there is immense literature pertaining to how children learn that supports curriculum integration. Cromwell (1989) looked into the the mechanisms on how information is processed and organized in the brain. New information and knowledge is built upon previous experiences and the meanings ascribed to these experiences. The brain is a multi-tasking machine as it processes bits of information simultaneously and quickly recalls experiences related to the information obtained. As simply put by Shoemaker "The human brain actively seeks patterns and searches for meaning through these patterns". This study is also hinged on the study of Caine and Caine (1991) when the connection between neuropsychology and educational methodologies was established and that the human brain's basic function is searching for meaning and patterns. The human brain may in fact prevent learning from fragmented facts which are encountered in isolation. It is the belief of both authors that learning occurs at a faster pace and more thorough when presented in meaningful contexts and experiential. The uniqueness of every brain and every student is widely recognized and when placed in the context of education, every learner or student has a distinct learning style. To meet these diverse needs means providing choices for students.

Learning become more powerfully enabled when curricula are integrated since connections are being made between subject areas (Drake, 1993; Ending, 1996; Lewis & Shah, 1999). Prior research support the premise that integrated curricula produce superior educational results through classroom instruction that incorporates various subject matters as interconnected whole rather than separate subject areas. Hellish, Dixon and Davis (2006) believed that the impact of science on students is directly related to effective integration of content and method of instruction. Science teachers must consider what would be the best blend of content, activities and instructional methodology when constructing their curriculum (Pickens & Eick, 2009).

John Dewey (1938) posited that there is a necessary condition between the processes of actual experience and education. According to Heflich, Dixon, & Davis (2001), the vast majority of students often view science as something that is stagnant. For some, science is dynamic though teachers fail to create this image n their students' minds. Educational research spots the value of scientific inquiry as a motivational tool (Canton, Brewer, & Brown, 2000). Theobald (2006) showed that in allowing students to control the direction of their investigations, mirroring the work of real scientists, they not only discover important scientific concepts but also have fun.

Students' understanding science for lifelong learning is a goal that requires emphasis on teaching science for understanding rather than isolated facts. This approach in teaching science allows for the integration of science concepts with relevant application in society including technology (Nieswandt & Shanahan, 2008). It is important to make science relevant to students' personal life which makes science worth studying for reluctant learners and those students who are not interested in science. Reluctant learners become engaged in activities if they see value in the lesson for their present lives (Bennet et al, 2007; Theobald, 2006).

Curriculum Integration Benefits

Curriculum integration is an issue that has taken central importance in recent developments within education. The rationale in integration is ease in relating various interrelated issues that collectively contribute to gain of knowledge. A review of learning theories reveals that continuous interaction with the environment plays a vital role in transmission of knowledge (Supiano, Fitzgerald, Hall, Halter, & Jeffrey, 2007). This implies that the development of knowledge is from basic observation and even communication with others in a learning environment is critical in making gains in education. This is brought out clearly in early education which commonly adopts an integrated curriculum. Learning for students who basically depend on their parents, teachers and siblings for information is facilitated by an environment that allows for the development of meaning from different information sources (Pennee, 2007).

Another aspect that education theorists posit as being central to the high levels of knowledge acquisition recorded by young children is their interest in learning (Soh, Samal, & Nugent, 2007; Pennee, 2007; Trusty, 2000). The interest that one has for gaining knowledge in a given aspect plays a critical role in shaping personal involvement and retention of any given piece of information. Moreover, the level of involvement by students in any given setting is affected by the attitude that they display towards the goals being driven at (Muller, Jain, Loeser, & Irby, 2008). This implies that defining instructional goals in a manner that allows for appreciation by students plays a vital role in ensuring that they develop a positive attitude towards their involvement. This is brought out in the reasons cited as being central to the low appreciation displayed by students towards science education. Most students claim that they do not fathom the importance of science to their future. This is mainly because in most cases instructors adopt strategies that are highly theoretical and minimize the levels of involvement and interaction between students.

Interaction allows students to not only learn from instructors but also from each other whereas ensuring that they can relate varied observations and principles in developing an understanding of new information. This is an aspect that appears to be lacking in the strategies adopted at higher grades to teaching and learning science though it is commonly adopted in early education (Wieland, Eleazer, Bachman, Corbin, Oldendick, Boland, Stewart, Richeson, & Thornhill, 2008). This brings about a question on why the need for integration in higher grades is not well articulated and appreciated. There are common assumptions that are made on the learning process in higher grades that lead to the alienation of the basics tenets of integrated learning. It is generally assumed that the learning process at higher levels differ greatly from learning in lower levels of education (Oliver, Schofield, & McEvoy, 2006). Though this assumption is not stated explicitly, it can be derived from analyzing the differences in the learning strategies adopted in different levels. Lower grades are associated with decreased interaction with instructors and the use of practical examples; these are slowly dropped as instruction takes on a theoretical realm up the grades (Johnson, 2007; Kind, & Kind, 2007). It is however evident from the failure recorded in science that an integrated approach may in fact be an effective approach to instructional delivery at higher grades.

Environmental and personal development factors are also cited as playing a central role in the low interest displayed by 11th grade students to science. There is a high correlation between decrease in the levels of performance in science subjects and the onset of puberty (Hubball, Gold, Mighty, & Britnell, 2007). Puberty and the associated complications could considerably affect the perceptions that a student has of education which go a long way in influencing their approach to science education. Loss of interest is possibly the greatest threat to success in science education and is manifested in low participation in learning activities. It is imperative on science teachers at higher grades to appreciate the complexities associated with the onset of puberty and its implications on the levels of interests displayed by students on various learning activities (Supiano et al, 2007). Theoretically, the onset of puberty presents challenges that are similar to those faced in early childhood learning since the learners in each case are easily distracted resulting in low involvement (Soh, Samal, & Nugent, 2007). It is therefore apparent that integrated learning is as relevant to early childhood education as it is to 11th grade students.

Another aspect that comes out clearly is that the low importance attached to integrated approaches to learning at higher grades could imply that their adoption at such high levels could be faulty which may impede the realization of associated benefits (Supiano et al, 2007). Therefore understanding the factors that have to be considered when developing an integrated approach to science learning is important in realizing the benefits associated with the approach.

Interviews by Peterson (2003) with educators belonging to institutions with an integrated curriculum believe in its positive results. Susan Quirk and Jessica Larson are some of the examples of teachers surveyed. The former believes that an integrated curriculum will give her plenty of time with her students and that learning will be deeper and more meaningful while the latter believes that with the curriculum, evaluation and feedback from students will be more positive. According to Hutchings (2006), curriculum integration brings about two benefits, one is it fosters a sense of community and two, reversal of the role of the teacher from being an information giver to a facilitator.

Strategies

Though there are researchers that have adopted a single definition of integrated curriculum, a number of theorists view it as a continuum. The latter dimension to viewing integrated learning is important for it allows for change in the adopted strategies due to changes in the operational environment. It is noteworthy that integration of a curriculum results in interweaving, connection, interdisciplinary, correlation and holistic properties (Joseph, & Brooks, 2008). Curriculum integration is as an approach to teaching and learning that places equal emphasis on both philosophy and practicality. It is evident that under integrated curricular the transmission of theory is facilitated and supported by practical activities. Under integrated curricula, there is special emphasis on drawing knowledge, values, attitudes and skills from within and across varied subject areas which is considered a robust and powerful approach to developing understanding (O'Reilly, & McNamara, 2007). The design of the integrated curriculum determines the levels of interconnection of ideas that can be afforded and therefore the efficiency of the resulting strategies. The design considerations are often derived from the potential benefits associated with the approach to learning and teaching (Sawyer, Cooke, Conn, Marks, Roseby, & Cerritelli, 2006). Simply, the considerations in designing an integrated curriculum are geared towards attainment of the associated benefits.

Allowing for flexibility is an important requirement in curriculum integration for it provides teachers with a platform to transcend individual strands and subjects. This can be incorporated in the curriculum through including a flexible approach to introducing new concepts that involve observation and relating to existing phenomenon (Guile, & Okumoto, 2009). The latter aspect is also vital in the second requirement which is building on prior knowledge and experience. It is common knowledge that teaching is an art that develops with years of experience and interacting with students in different scenarios. Developing meaningful connection between subjects and knowledge that students have help diversify their knowledge base and develop a holistic view of the world thus meaningful learning (Hatcher, 2006). Inclusion of measures aimed at unifying students learning is also important in formulating a curriculum. This can only be attained if a proper mapping between the activities involved in the curricula and students' learning goals are attained (Niewswandt, & Shanahan, 2008; Plummer, & Kuhlman, 2008)). The students should be able to visualize the relationship between their goals and what they are learning within a given curricula. Reflecting the real world through the adopted strategies presents a platform through which student can be a source of knowledge which facilitates learning both at home and in school (Jippes, & Majoor, 2008). This can be attained by matching the activities in a curriculum and the teaching goals to the way students think. A holistic approach to transmitting ideas is better at supporting the idea processing mechanism used by teenage brains relative to transmission of fragmented pieces (Lynch, 2000).

While most studies have emphasized on the benefits associated with curricular integration on students, there is evidence showing that it is also helpful on teachers. The high levels of brainstorming and understanding of a class required in an integrated approach ensures that a teacher is continually involved with a class and aid development of effective communication with students (Supiano et al, 2007). Moreover, the formulation of relevant concepts of learning is made easy for teachers if they adopt an integrated approach to instructional delivery (Macaulay, & Nagley, 2008). Another important aspect is that it provides a teacher an extensive platform to analyze holistically the students' performance in different facet. This ensures that teachers are better placed to guide students and help them maximize gains.

Curriculum integration has a significant place in middle school classrooms teaching life

skills, making learning meaningful and addressing adolescents' physical and social needs without neglecting their academic needs. Activities and lessons generated to address the integrated curriculum theme foster critical thinking in students and engage them in what they are learning. Active participation from the students in designing the curriculum and in the classroom leads to this engagement. Students increase communication and problem solving abilities while trying to answer their own questions and exploring topics related to the unit theme which leads to higher student achievement and higher-order thinking. These gains made by students are every bit or maybe even more important than quantitative gains such as standardize test scores.

Studies on the Effects of Integrated Science Curriculum on Student Outcomes and Teachers

Rennie, Sheffield, and Venville (2007) observed that integrated curricula benefited Australian students by improving their understanding of scientific concepts, their ability of apply science concepts in real-life scenarios, and having positive attitudes towards science. While it can potentially be a solution to the declining attitudes towards science, there still exists a debate regarding the nature and scope of the benefits which are not easily assessed (Czerniak, 2007).

In 2009, Watkins compared science performance of high schools using the CSCOPE curriculum model and those that did not and observed no significant difference in academic achievement. She then concluded that those teachers who understood the principles in curriculum design and philosophy showed more enthusiasm in implementing the district curriculum philosophy and classroom curricular model.

In teaching marine science in high school, the effect of integrated approach was explored by Lambert (2006). A higher performance in content assessment was demonstrated among students whose teachers integrated biological, chemical, geological, and physical characteristics of oceans than other students. Using a Likert-scale survey, knowledge of issues related to Science-Technology-Society had no significant change although post-instruction assessment revealed that it satisfied national science standards and benchmarks.

Smith (2006) revealed that the integrated Environmental Science course had a significant impact on the students' academic achievement, knowledge retention and positive science attitudes. However, gender and socioeconomic status did not influence results.

Turpin and Cage (2004) determined the impact of an integrated science curriculum on science achievement, science process skills, and attitudes toward science. Those exposed to the curriculum obtained significantly higher ITBS Science scores than the control group. Individual process skills varied significantly between the experimental and control groups. On the other hand, both groups had the same attitudes towards science. As cited in Turpin and Cage (2004), Harmon and McColskey (1997) found that participation in hands-on activities and cooperative discussions was significantly higher among IS compared to non-IS students. Attitudes toward science classroom experience and science teacher was significantly more favorable among IS students. However, no significant differences existed between groups in terms of attitudes toward science and future expectations of participation in science-related activities. McColskey (1995) noted a more positive perception about science among IS than non-IS students. Therefore the former are more likely than the latter to like science because it is an interesting field of study. In addition, SAT performance among IS students was significantly higher than non-IS students according to Bryant et al. (1999). IS schools also improved in their SAT science scores Moreover schools having integrated science curriculum participating in IS showed increased improvement in science scores in SAT during the next two years of enrollment.

Concerns about integrated curriculum

An integrated curriculum is a potential powerful educational intervention only when it is appropriately implemented. Advocates for and those opposed to utilization of an integrated curriculum would be in agreement that "integration for integration's sake is ill advised" (Hinde, 2005). The activities under this curriculum should present clear objectives and not pointless busy work, should be inclined to the course objectives, and should consider the students' background knowledge and skills. Burton (2001) pled to educators that integration should be done only when it is justified and in the presence of obvious connections and touch points.

Cushman (1993) as cited in Kaskey-Roush (2008) illustrated that a small group of teachers claimed that students will be less challenges in certain areas of the subject because some disciplines were integrated into them. This is one of the anecdotal evidence in the study: "I don't consider it challenging material to be asked to add up survey figures and make charts in somebody's social studies project". There also is the fear that they might not be able to deliver the subject matter very efficiently because they will have to incorporate concepts beyond their areas of specialization. He urged that teachers should be confident in integrating two subject areas in which they are licensed to teach. Moreover, teachers should work as a team and help each other in designing and implementing the curriculum.

Another concern raised by educators is that curriculum integration requires more time. The planning stage is particularly crucial and entail numerous activities such as theme selection, exploration of resources, consultation with student about issues and concerns, and coordination with other teachers. Majority of schools also expressed hesitation in implementing this intervention for worry that they will not be able to attain state and national standards and lack of confidence in the power of integration. Parker (2007) as cited in Kaskey-Roush (2008) stated that because of the existing curriculum in most schools is segregated, students should prepare for "subject-driven state mandated" tests; however, it is possible that the test material can be taught using an integrated curriculum.

Furner and Kumar (2007) cited that while the teachers developed an appreciation for integrating mathematics to science instruction, they got frustrated when they failed to serve the purpose of the curriculum. This frustration resulted positively as their understanding of integration was enhanced as a result of an integrated curriculum.

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