Conceptual Learning in Social Studies Classroom: An Analysis of Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Social Studies Questions with and without Concept
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We are living in a conceptual world which we build through both informal and systematic interaction. Concepts enable us to simplify and organize our environment and communicate efficiently with others. The learning of concepts is represented by a general idea, usually expressed by a word, which represent a class or group of things or actions having certain characteristics in common, is a matter of central concern for designing effective instructional conditions in the school setting. Thus, concept attainment is a cornerstone of social studies to help students to make informed and reasonable decisions and therefore is a fundamental and challenging aspect of social studies content. Previous studies had not focused specifically on concept questions and nonconcept questions. The purpose of this study is to determine whether 8th, 10th, and 11th grade students perform better on social studies questions which were classified as concept questions compared to questions which were classified as nonconcept questions. This study also attempts to identify the relationship between correct answers on concept questions and students' demographics. This study used a non-experimental descriptive, correlational, and causal-comparative research designs. This study used secondary data analysis, which involves a re-analysis of data collected for another study or purpose. The data for this study was gathered from Texas Education Agency, for all students who took the Spring 2006 and Spring 2009 version of the Grade 8, Grade 10, and Grade 11 Social Studies TAKS Tests. A statistical significant difference was found between the percentage of correct concept question and nonconcept questions. Students had higher achievement on nonconcept questions than concept questions. The researcher compared students' correct answers for concept questions between years, the result indicated that students scored higher on concept questions in 2009 than 2006. Also, there was a significant difference between male students and female students. Male students had a higher mean of concept questions than female students. In addition, Grade 11 had a higher mean on concept questions than Grade 10 and Grade 8. The researcher found significant differences among ethnicity. Asian students and White students scored better on concept question than other ethnic groups. The researcher also examined the correlation between concept questions and nonconcept questions. The result indicated that there was a significant positive high correlation between choosing correct answers for concept question and nonconcept questions. Last, native speaker students had a higher achievement on concept questions than ESL students.