|dc.description.abstract||There are widespread concerns internationally (Logan & Skamp. 2013; Martin, Mullis, Foy & Stanco, 2012) and in New Zealand (Chamberlain & Caygill, 2013; Gluckman, 2011; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2014) about the decline in students’ interest and engagement in science education. As a result, fewer students are choosing to study science in the later secondary school years and to pursue science careers. This has lead to a decreasing number of science graduates, potentially negatively impacting on nations’ economic competitiveness and productivity. Furthermore, there are fewer scientifically literate citizens who are able to participate in science orientated discussions, debates and developments in society.
This study explored rural primary school students’ experiences of Chemistry Outreach, a year-long science programme, which culminated in the students planning, designing, conducting and evaluating scientific investigations in their community. Previous research in science education has focused predominantly on single-level classes within urban and larger rural schools whereas this study’s focus was exclusively on a multi-level class in a very small New Zealand rural primary school.
This phenomenological study investigated nine Year 4 – 6 students’ experiences of Chemistry Outreach with a specific focus on students’ attitudes, engagement, use of scientific skills, and scientific language. Focus group interviews, videos, reflective writing and science book covers were analysed from the individual and social perspective using phenomenology and discourse analysis. The findings were examined in relation to the specific rural culture of these participants through the culturally responsive pedagogy outlined in Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners (Ministry of Education, 2011).
The results revealed the individual journeys the students took, and in the process, exposed the multifaceted influences on their attitudes, engagement and thinking in science. The study highlights the importance of making science useful, relevant and meaningful for these rural students by incorporating their rural culture into the teaching and learning programme.||