Accepted 17th April, 2015
The evaluation is about the implementation of a project aimed at testing the impact of the chemistry project in the secondary schools of the NorthWest Province. The selection of the sample followed a proportional random procedure. It was estimated that a sample of 400 learners was required in order to ensure adequate power of the Analyzes and generalizability. This sample comprised of the treatment group of learners who have experienced the chemistry programme to various extends in grades 11 and 12. The assumption was that the project will involve schools in a good deal of fundamental rethinking of the curriculum and this was more likely to show up in schools where the project has long been established. The interest was in the growth of learner performance through the programme which was offered in grades 10, 11 and 12. Since the evaluation was conducted in September 2006, performance was examined in grades 11 and 12 in both project and non project schools. The performance assessment tasks involved 10 learners from each grade in each school. The learners (5 boys and 5 girls) were chosen from the class list that was made available to the administrators. The performance assessment tasks were administered in 40 schools involving a total of 800 learners. The sampled learners also completed the attitude questionnaires to solicit their attitudes towards chemistry. In addition, the administrators also interviewed curriculum specialists and university lecturers who were involved in the training of educators. The educator questionnaire was also administered to the project educators. This data was used in answering the general evaluation questions relating to the achievement of the project goals and options for the future of the project. Results indicate that learners with more positive attitudes towards chemistry are more chemistry literate. The attitude and literacy scores for project schools were higher than those of non-project schools. This was hypothesized to be the case at the beginning of the project and is the major finding of the evaluation, verifying the project in terms of its goals and to increase chemistry literacy through the study of chemistry education. The project educators and curriculum specialists had a quite positive attitude towards the training they received, both in content and organization. Concern was expressed with regard to how the training related to the National Qualifications Framework, and what formal qualification will result from the training. A quite specific need has been satisfied by the project and materials, but then eventually (around the year 2007) these were no longer appropriate. Elements of them were valuable for certain aspects of the general year 7-9 Natural Sciences education. Prior to the year 2007, the materials were evaluated and some redesign took place in order to match them with the developing national curriculum.
Keywords: Evaluation, impact assessment, chemistry, student, laboratory project