The understanding of time concepts by selected high school students using Friedman's measuring instrument
Tinajero, Sally Rogers
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This thesis is an attempt to determine the extent to which a selected group of students from the history department of Beverly High School possesses understanding of time concepts. It proposes to measure their comprehension of time by means of an objective test. The results of this test are evaluated and compared to those established by Kopple C. Friedman ia 1942 in an attempt to validate further his work in this area. An adequate understanding of time words and the principles of chronology is necessary in order to create an alert and well-informed citizenry which is able to think about current political events, relate those events to happenings in the past, and make intelligent decisions on the basis of this understanding. Accordingly, it becomes mandatory for the teachers of social studies to evaluate present methods of teaching time concepts and to develop a clearer perspective of their own comprehension of time. To facilitate this work, students were selected who represented a normal senior high school population in terms of IQ (102.5) and socio-economic status. Two hundred and seventy-six students were chosen from the various courses within the history department and represented all grades and curricula within the high school. These pupils were given a time comprehension test which was devised as part of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota by Kopple C. Friedman. The test is divided into four parts which measure the understanding of time words, chronology, time lines (simple and complex), and a fifth section determining date preference by students. After the administration of the test, scores were obtained on individual performances which were categorized by grade to aid in the evaluation. Correlations were made between performance of the group as a whole and certain factors which might be considered predictive of success on the test--IQ, socio-economic status, and tne number of history courses taken by grade-twelve students. Mean performances of the boys were compared to those of the girls and analyzed for any statistical significance. The results of Part I (time word comprehension) showed a surprisingly low degree of understanding among all groups except the seniors. Grades ten and eleven achieved satisfactory comprehension for only ten words out of twenty-three. Since the words are common and many of them used in daily conversation, these results are alarming. Grade-twelve students achieved adequate comprehension for sixteen out of twenty-three words. Friedman had established that maturity in comprehension of time words is reached when twelve of twenty-three words are satisfactorily understood by a group. He found such understanding came at the age of sixteen, or the end of grade ten. The present experiment shows that the Beverly group is at least a year late in arriving at maturity in this test; that is, the comprehension of time word5. The results of Part II, involving a knowledge of chronology, were higher than those of Part I, and the peak of performance came in grade twelve. The general averages were remarkably similar to the results obtained by Friedman. Yet, comprehension of the principles of chronology, especially knowledge of B. C., is not adequate for any grade in the present experiment except grade twelve. Comprehension of individual items of both Part I and Part II in the present experiment does not increase consistently throughout the grades but remains fairly constant in grades ten and eleven and jumps sharply in grade twelve. This is contrary to the findings of Friedman. Parts IV and V tested tne students on the use of the simple and complex time lines. From the very poor results obtained on these parts, it may be stated that the time line is a learned device. Although Friedman's group did well on the simple time line, he found poor results on the complex time line. Both experiments point to the fact that the time line should be used sparingly by the teacher and taught With great care. The results of student preference on learning dates indicate a trend toward choosing century dates. Friedman found no definite pattern of preference, and a survey of the choices shows little similarity between the two experiments. The conclusion seems evident in the present experiment that students need motivation for learning dates. Correlations were made between performance on Parts I, II, and IV and possible indices of achievement--IQ, socioeconomic status, and number of courses taken. With the exception of a significant negative correlation existing between performance on Part I and the number of courses taken, no significant correlations were established. A certain degree of relationship was found to exist between IQ and performance by students on all parts of the test. Upon setting up critical ratios to determine any significance in difference of performance by sex, it was discovered that the boys made a significantly superior performance on Part I of the test. The scores for Part V were so low that no meaningful evidence could be gained from correlating the results with the various factors. The findings of the present experiment clearly emphasize the fact that time concepts are not fully understood by high school students, and that there is evident need for developing more effective methods of teaching time comprehension.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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