Science Process Skills in Practical Examinations in Kenya

The term science process skills refer to a set of broadly transferable abilities appropriate to many science disciplines and reflective of the behavior of scientists. Others have defined science process skills mental and physical abilities and competencies which serve as tools needed for the effective study of science and technology as well as problem solving and individual societal development. Others view science process skills as cognitive and psychomotor skills employed in problem solving, problem identification, data gathering, transformation, interpretation and communication. Implicit in these conceptions is the position that science process skills are used in the construction of scientific knowledge in order to solve problems.

In a research review carried out by Ongowo and Indoshi from the department of Educational communication technology and curriculum studies at Maseno University, Kenya and published in Creative Education 2013 vol.11 by Scientific Research Publishing. The researchers analyzed national practical examination papers for a 10- year period from 2002- 2012 for the content of science process skills. The findings indicated that the five most common science process skills identified out of the 12 examined in the study are observation (32.24%), communicating (14.63%), inferring (13.13%), experimenting (12.21%) and interpreting data (11.94%). The results also revealed a high percentage of basic science process skills at 73.73% compared to the integrated science process skills at 26.27%. It is recommended that the Kenya National Examination Council should include more integrated science process skills into the KCSE biology practical examinations to enable the students to develop problem solving abilities and creativity which are important tools for biotechnology.

The findings of this study have indicated that in the years considered, more basic science process skills were tested than integrated science process skills. In this state of affairs, there is a likelihood that integrated science process skills are not being emphasized in the teaching and learning process. By extension this means that the learners graduate that from grade 12 in the Kenyan system may not be in a position to participate effectively in activities requiring problem solving skills which are developed from the acquisition of integrated science process skills.

Given the relevance of integrated science process skills, there is a need to make deliberate efforts to develop them during the teaching/learning process and thereafter test them in the biology national examinations.

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