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Title

A Study Of The Relationship Between Economic Education And Formal Reasoning In Ninth Grade Students

Date of Award

1980

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Problem. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the use of instructional materials of the economic education project at the University of the Pacific and movement into formal operations. Also examined was the percentage of ninth grade students who have achieved formal operations. Procedure. Data were collected in four secondary schools in Northern California which were involved in field-testing case studies from Our Economy: How It Works. Eight social studies classes of ninth grade students (n = 186) receiving instruction in economics were the experimental group while eight social studies classes within the same schools (n = 201) not receiving instruction in economics served as the control group. Measurements used were the Piagetian Assessment of Formal Thinking (PAFT), compiled by the author, and the Junior High School Test of Economics (JHSTE), developed by the Joint Council for Economic Education. The relationship between cognitive development as measured by the PAFT and economic understanding as measured by the JHSTE was determined by the use of Pearson Product Moment Correlation (Pearson r). Three Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVA) were employed to compare: (a) scores of the posttest of the PAFT between experimental and control groups, (b) difference between gender on posttest scores of the PAFT for experimental groups and, (c) difference between gender on posttest scores of the JHSTE for experimental groups. In each case pretest scores constituted the covariate. Findings. The findings of this study did not provide definitive results regarding the efficacy of instruction on increasing the use of formal operations. The experimental group did make significant gains in cognitive development (p < .01). There was also significant gains for the control group (p < .001). Therefore, no effect of gains in cognitive development can be attributed to treatment. Of the sample population 4% were determined to be formal operational on the posttest of the PAFT. There was a significant relationship (p < .001) between cognitive development and economic understanding for both the pretest and posttest measures. No significant difference was determined between boys and girls in the experimental group for either the PAFT or the JHSTE. However, when gender for the entire sample population was compared, a significant difference (p < .05) was determined. Conclusions. Several factors may have accounted for the lack of support for the effectiveness of instructional method and materials on increasing formal reasoning. The length of time for treatment most likely did not allow for the internal process of self-regulation to occur to a significant extent. Also, due to restraints of time, some activities designed for maximum student participation and involvement were utilized very little, if at all, and a major aspect of the experimental design was invalidated. Therefore, it should not be concluded that instruction using concrete methods and materials does not have an effect on increasing the ability to use formal operations.

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