Mukhopadhyay, R.

/ Educationia Confab

ISSN: 2320-009X

Scientific Aptitude – Some Psychometric Considerations with Special Emphasis to Aptitude in Physics

Dr. Rajib Mukhopadhyay Department of Education, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata-16, West Bengal, India

Abstract Rate of admission of students in science learning in institutions is increasing at a rapid rate particularly in senior secondary section, but the result of students’ achievement in learning science is not as per the level of expectation. In this context scientific aptitude (indicating the possibility of future success or failure of learners in science) of these learners has become a major concern of academic counselors and also researchers working in the field of science education. Scientific aptitude has also been selected as the focal theme of the present study. The study has been designed to explain the concept, to discuss psychometric construct of it – as viewed by different researchers. Among different discipline in science aptitude in physics has become the area drawing increasing attention of counselors and researchers. In view of this present study has emphasized on it particularly within the broad frame work of scientific aptitude. Different operational dimensions of aptitude in physics have been referred in details. The related tools have also been reviewed critically. The review indicates extreme inadequacy in number of available related studies and thereby suggests the scope of further investigation of aptitude in physics. The study has its relevance to the researchers in operationalizing the construct psychometrically, to design the tools having sound psychometric basis in view of all these. Keywords: Scientific Aptitude, Psychometric Construct, Tool, Aptitude in Physics Introduction Importance of science learning is being recognized more and more in the context of contemporary society which is highly scientific as well as technical. Effective science learning in this context is not only necessary for one’s individual development; it also helps learner to contribute significantly for the development of nation. Science learning is not only important for the two reasons, as mentioned. In fact, it is also considered as a symbol of recognition of a learner in his/her surrounding environment i.e. school, home and society (Ganguli & Vashistha, 1991). Students feel a strong urge to enroll themselves in science courses particularly in senior secondary stage due to number of causes, among which to ensure their well acceptance in surroundings is also a major one. Parents are also driven strongly by this type of external motivation, considering science learning of their children as the symbol of social status (Shukla, 2005). But mere enrolment in science course will not result benefit of learner in large extent unless students’ science learning is made effective also. There are several factors which influence science learning; among which their scientific aptitude is a major determiner. Scientific aptitude indicates the possibility of future success or failure in the area of science learning.

Conceptual Framework . R. 2010). It aims at particularly – to explain the conceptual frameworks of scientific aptitude. particular nature of the curricular content consisting of several interrelated concepts having hierarchical nature etc. in any specific field. he/she will not be skilled or proficient in that task in spite of training given to him/her. 2010). the scenario of students’ achievement in science is not as per the level of expectation. NAEP. 1986). in spite of gradual increasing rate of enrolment of students in science courses. Therefore aptitude in physics of higher secondary learners is the area needs a major emphasis. 1959). If an individual has no aptitude for a particular type of work. quickness in learning and understanding”.Aptitude. are the probable causes of this perception (Mukhopadhyay. aptitude is defined as “a pronounced innate capacity for or ability in a given line of endeavor such as particular art. How are scientific aptitude and aptitude in physics particularly explained and defined by researchers? What are various psychometric dimensions of these two? Whether available tool of these two are adequate and are constructed in view of all the essential psychometric considerations? Present study is an attempt of finding answer of all these questions. Scientific Aptitude. 2011). . In the above two definitions. In this definition.Vol. analytical-synthetic approach in its learning. 2. rather it is the capacity to acquire that specific skill (Freeman. it has been emphasized on that an aptitude refers to the capacity of an individual to be skilled in some work receiving formal and informal training. physics particularly is perceived by learners as an area of major difficulty. and to review the related tools in details. Aptitude is not a specific skill. Researchers have identified that student failure in science courses to a large extent is attributed to their failure in physics course particularly (Shukla. 1965). necessity of applying inductive-deductive. All these may result in learners’ under achievement. right aptitude of a person. skill or ability. and aptitude in physics. Following questions arise in the mind of present researcher in this regard. Its axiomatic nature. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay. No. / Educationia Confab 90 ISSN: 2320-009X Therefore learners’ felt urge in learning science along with their sound scientific aptitude only may result in expected achievement (Ghosh. As a result. Aptitude in Physics In the Dictionary of education (Good. indicates his/her ability of acquiring skills in that particular field. on the basis of which a . Under this circumstance scientific aptitude of high secondary students particularly has become an issue of major concern (DST. administrators and also science educators (Ganguli & Vashistha. 1996) is considered as “a natural talent. 1. This also leads to selection of the present topic. to discuss various operational dimensions of these two as suggested by different researches. These are discussed step by step in the following sections. Whereas. This failure in science learning increases the possibility of wastage of human resource and therefore has become a major concern of school teachers. 1991. But in the present system of school education at the time of admission in the various field of study in the higher secondary stage. Among various discipline in science. school subject or vocation”. students’ aptitude in that discipline is hardly recognized as the as the matter of consideration (DST. 2005). ‘Aptitude’ in Great Illustrated Dictionary *in Rao. an aptitude refers to an individual’s inborn potentialities or capacities which are indicative of some special abilities. 1979).

explanation of the concept aptitude in physics. Vol. it is possible to predict future accomplishment of a person in science” defined by Rao. aptitude is influenced by both biological and cultural factors of an individual. and functions of different devices etc. in recognizing a number sequence correctly.prediction may be made regarding the amount of improvement of that person in that field. (e) Memory – ability to recall or recognize after a brief exposure to words. This ultimately leads to prediction in learner’s future accomplishment in the area of learning physics. Weison (as cited in Muchinsky. Scientific Aptitude. “Scientific aptitude is a complex of interacting hereditary and environmental determinants producing predisposition or ability in science. As a matter of fact. and pictures (mostly related with clerical aptitude). motivation. This helps a learner in developing vocabulary. 2004 also considered the ability – mechanical comprehension. and figures. in understanding completely a given set of information. (g) Psychomotor ability – ability to move hands and figures and co-ordinate their movement. Mukhopadhyay. Muchinsky. numbers. 1996). Operational dimensions of Aptitude. Ramanandan and Pillai in 1968 identified the abilities i. No. yet environmental factors on aptitude has also been recognized (Rao. In relation to aptitude. Researcher has also explained that scientific aptitude depends upon a variety of factors. These are – (a) General intelligence – general learning ability (b) Verbal ability – vocabulary (c) Numerical ability – mathematical reasoning in problem solving (d) Spatial ability – ability to visualize and rotate objects in space involving figures. 1. in physics and also in applying those in explaining and predicting various happenings following essential steps of a scientific method successfully in learning physics (which is acquired through proper physics education). . 2011 has explained it as the ability of a learner in acquiring skill in selecting and making use of materials in physics properly for gathering information. Nair. (f) Perceptual speed – ability to work quickly and accurately in scanning and perceiving similarities and differences in words. processing those to develop knowledge and understanding towards different aspects in physics. which further training might effect (Rao. and Aptitude in Physics – a brief review Muchinsky. satisfaction derived from learning science subjects. the ability including information regarding use of tools and machines and also the application of reasoning to mechanical problem. R. Ramsay. 2004) also recognized the importance of the ability of mechanical comprehension (mechanical aptitude) in measuring aptitude in technical or scientific disciplines. 2004 has identified the following primary mental abilities in relation to aptitude in any specific field. relating variables by proper formulation. numbers. Presence of certain study skills and persistence in learning science. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay. In the context of physics learning.e. in particular is deemed necessary. 2. symbols. perceiving spatial relationship. 1996). socio-economic factors and cultural background are some of the important determinants of scientific aptitude. particularly in science or science related domain. / Educationia Confab 91 ISSN: 2320-009X Majority of the psychologists agree on the point that aptitude is innate. particularly in physics/mathematics. 1969. Through these abilities.

information. 2011 has explained the same construct considering the abilities as. which are cognitive by nature. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay.scientific information in physics. 1. reasoning. vocational interest. different non-cognitive factors i. Pandit.. in relation to scientific aptitude. formulation. numerical ability. (in Muchinsky. d. Omotayo and Oladeya. and scientific attitude.number series. vocabulary in physics. reasoning ability. Mukhopadhyay. 1987: general intelligence. Ramsay (in Muchinsky. Weisen (in Muchinsky. 1985: scientific knowledge. number ability. number series. have been considered in relation to the construct of Multiple Aptitude by Jackson (in Muchinsky. Scholastic aptitude (in science) discussed so far. No. 2004). Scientific vocabulary: Super [in 1]. Sharma. 2004).. reasoning ability.“ Scientific aptitude being presumably largely an intellectual matter. These are mentioned as following: a. spatial ability. mechanical aptitude. particularly in scholastic areas (Muchinsky. 1985 found that these abilities could be grouped into three factors namely – (1) scientific reasoning (reasoning ability. In addition to cognitive factors. perception). Emotional intelligence. formulation. 2. But single construct aptitude based on primary mental abilities is used widely by researchers. Vol. In relation to scientific aptitude. as each of them have been considered by different researchers in relation. Some among these . 2008 considered cognitive and affective factors separately in relation to scientific aptitude instead of a single-construct aptitude (Cognitive and Affective Domain Aptitude Test: CADT. operational ability. 1996). and non-verbal (mechanical) interpretation. Scientific information: Nair et al. Muchinsky. 2004). mathematical ability. spatial ability. numerical ability). and space relation. perception. space relation. Gupta.e.scientific information. 2004). 1980 considered. and (3) perceptual scientific comprehension (mechanical comprehension. and finger dexterity-in relation to the same. science vocabulary and mechanical comprehension”. personality traits etc. These are the primary mental abilities used widely by researches. perceptual ability. Ruch et. Mechanical comprehension: Pandit. 1968. knowledge of nature and structure in physics. 2004). verbal comprehension and interpretation. finger dexterity). Therefore the study revealed that a number of abilities might have their significant role to explain the construct of scientific aptitude. Das. it seems that battery of tests for the selection of promising scientists will stress such factors as reasoning. Spatial ability: Nair et al. is found to be considered in relation to different primary mental abilities. 3. 1976 has explained the construct of aptitude in physics in terms of the abilities namely. space relation. Super (in Agarwal & Aurora. verbal comprehension. and finger dexterity. and scientific knowledge. 1986) : describes. Omotayo and Oladeya . 1980. Giri. 2. and interpretation. / Educationia Confab 92 ISSN: 2320-009X Sharma. 1996). 4. c. researchers have also considered the following abilities:1. 1985. 2008. 2011. reasoning ability. Sharma (in Rao. 1968. R. 1996. 1996): scientific awareness. spatial visualization. conceptual understanding in physics. Sharma (in Rao. mechanical comprehension.functional knowledge. mechanical comprehension. Sharma (in Rao. (2) scientific achievement (scientific information. b. Sharma (in Rao. creative thinking in numerical ability.

Verbal comprehension . Criterion related. utilitarian as well Vol. Reasoning ability. Scientific information. (SATB: Sharma. Conceptual Understanding. Formulation. / Educationia Confab 93 ISSN: 2320-009X as vocational value. Factorial. Spatial ability. hence there is the scope of further study.are similar to the dimensions in terms of which Rao. No. For educational and vocational guidance. in Rao.Scientific Aptitude Test: Pandit. Pillai. Numerical ability Perception. Giri .Scientific Aptitude Test Battery. 1980) 3. Knowledge of nature and structure in Physics. in particular. particularly for higher secondary students. Studies. 1985 Secondary Scientific information. Table I Tests on Scientific Aptitude and Aptitude in Physics Test Sample Sub-dimensions Reliability Validity 1. and Aptitude in Physics Following table (Table I) shows different Tests on Scientific Aptitude. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay. Predictive. Science attitude Split-Half. 2. Internal consistency (using K-R 20 formula). 1. Physics has immense intellectual. R. 2. 1976 Senior Secondary Functional knowledge. Kerala University Scientific Aptitude Test by Nair Ramalingom. this operationalization of aptitude in physics is essential. Creative thinking. Aptitude Test in Physics. Mechanical comprehension. so far discussed. 1996 4. Finger dexterity Secondary Number series. 1996 explained the construct ‘scientific aptitude’. showed extremely inadequate number of attempts to explain the construct of aptitude in physics. Content. and Aptitude in Physics indicating various psychometric details of these. Review of the tools on Scientific Aptitude.

1986 High School Students Reasoning number.55 to 0. measured with respect to a number of other standard test 5. 1976 constructed and standardized a test on Aptitude in Physics for senior secondary students. Finger dexterity. R.Scientific Aptitude Test Battery. 1.item.r.Scientific Aptitude Test Battery standardized by Agarwal and Aurora.93. p<0. Predictive validity Vol. w. Test on Aptitude in Physics suitable for higher secondary students is numbered.Predictive with respect to scientific achievement 2.58.Standard IX Scientific knowledge. Mathematical ability.59. Spatial ability.Test-retest 2. Reasoning ability. Mechanical comprehension. the sub- . Scientific information. Reasoning.(r=0. Spacerelation Composite reliability (0. clear understanding of various steps involved in exploring scientific knowledge in physics (i. (SATB: Sharma in Rao. in particular. Mechanical aptitude. all significant 6.57 and 0. Vocabulary and Numerical ability 1.88. p<0.84 to 0.01) Predictive validity. 2. as well as for individual sub -dimensions) (r = 0. total examination score (r=0.01) Specifically not found 1. / Educationia Confab 94 ISSN: 2320-009X Review shows the following points: 1. Numerical ability. Novel and the only one study is found in this regard.90) Split-half (entire test.Internal validity (significant item.e.0. 1996) Class XI Science awareness. mathematics. Split-half Factorial validity.Factorial (Three factor construct.Predictive validity with respect to scientific achievement. item-total correlation) 2. Sub dimensions of the test are found critical.Split-half for individual sub-test as well as for the entire test.t school science. High concurrent validity. encouraging not only knowledge of fact and information of a student but at the same. explaining 67% variance) 1. No. Giri. 2. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay.

/ Educationia Confab 95 ISSN: 2320-009X Validity Results . and also for the entire test. thus emphasizing on both the product and the process aspect of knowledge. India. as already mentioned in section 2 of the present study). 3.dimensions in specific and more measurable way. which is the Aptitude in Physics.72 to 0. Later on.For entire test r=0. and sub-scale total correlation. concurrent validity (in terms of correlation of scores of this test and that of Scientific Aptitude Test by Nair et. Norm was established in terms of mean. and analyzing the opinion using chi. Sen & Mukhopadhyay. and construct validity (using principal component of factor analysis) were estimated. The test consists of seven different dimensions. for different sub-dimension. Overgeneralization may be avoided by incorporating essential primary mental abilities and by expressing the sub. ranging from 0. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay. predictive validity (in relation to students achievement in last board examination). Reliability coefficients were determined for each of the selected sub. The test of Giri. for all) Results Vol.87. need to be made more specific. depending upon the responses of whichitems were analyzed.dimensions.83 b. Internal consistency reliability using K. Face validity (in terms of school teacher’s opinion towards appropriateness of the test for the students.e. to ensure strong identity of the items at the individual level. This was the try-out sample. Items measuring those abilities should also emphasize on both the product and the process aspect of the knowledge in physics.dimensions separately.R.01 level) 2.86 (all significant at 0. Split half (For each sub-dimension and for the entire test) a. 2008 has constructed one Test on Aptitude in Physics for secondary passed students. r. standard deviation. 1.01. r for entire test 0. intrinsic validity (in terms of sub scale-sub scale.dimension – Nature and Structure of Physics).square testing). 1976 may have the problem of over generalization in selecting the sub. percentile. Table II Results of reliability and validity of the test on Aptitude in Physics (Sen & No.– 20 formula r for different sub-dimensions ranging from 0. 2008) Reliability 1. which together might also lead to a common construct.74 to 0. The test was initially administered on 200 students. Conceptual Understanding etc. The sub-dimensions i. Table II shows the results of reliability and validity of the test in details. and also using split-half method. 2. otherwise the corresponding items of those dimensions may not ensure their individual entity in the composite overall construct. and stanine.85. content validity (in terms of experts’ opinion). studying in class XI (science) in different institutions in West Bengal. Reliability of the test was estimated using KR-20 formula (in terms of internal consistency reliability coefficient). Functional Knowledge. R. (p<0. the test was standardized on the basis of the response of 703 numbers of students consisting of various components as per gender and habitat. 1978).

01) Two factors emerged explaining 51.1. Factor1 and factor2 being called as ‘Process Factor’ and ‘Product Factor’ respectively. Predictive validity (in relation to score in science in last board examination 5. The seven subdimensions considered in the test were related to essential primary mental abilities upon which learners’ basic knowledge and understanding in physics depend.967%. Standard Error = 2. process factor and product factor (results of construct validity: Table II) indicating that learners’ might use their process skill and product skill both for solving the items of the test.699 (significant at 0. Face validity – school teachers’ opinion towards appropriateness of the items for the students. [13] ) 6. the detailed analysis of distracter was done. Analysis of the factor structure emerged two factors viz. y = score on science (Standard Score) x = score on Aptitude in Physics. Concurrent validity (using Scientific Aptitude Test standardized by Nair et al.596 (significant).414%.627% of variance. Intrinsic validity (sub-scale _ sub-scale.63. Item construction seemed perfect and the process as well as product aspect of knowledge in physics might be given due emphasis. Hence. Content validity (experts’ opinion) Favorable 4. Even in case of selecting multiple choice options.78 r = 0. sub-scale _ total correlation) Strongly in favor r varies from 0. Attempt of Sen & Mukhopadhyay. Construct validity – using Principal Component Factor Analysis. the test has . r = 0.741 (p<0. Therefore students’ score of this test probably indicates in what way they use information known already. has its novelty from a number of points of view. regression equation : y = 0. Factor1 (unrotated) explained 36. in what way they process those in learning.01 level) 3. The test is found constructed in view of a number of essential psychometric considerations. as well as.78x + 42. 2.05 and 0.074%. Factor2 (unrotated)–14. Factor2 (rotated) – 23.141 to 0. 2008.041% variance. Factor1 (rotated) – 27.

[7] Ghosh. (1991). S. After all. India. [2] Das B. Unpublished Ph. 50 years/g/Z/91/0z910H01. Construction and Standardization of a Scientific Aptitude Test in Oria for the tenth class students of Orissa.. 50 years/g/Z/91/0z910H01. Even and exhaustive factor analysis was done to estimate construct validity of the test. [4] Freeman.programme/anuj-bio-htm. (1986). Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Unpublished Ph. National Psychological Corporation. hence seem to be a true aptitude test. D. Further study may be conducted in view of the 2010.: Calcutta. The test of Sen & Mukhopadhyay. Statistics In Psychology and Education. 2008 is psychometrically No. only one norm was prepared. Thesis. In spite of these scopes of further improvement. 2004-2005. may also be established. 2.D Thesis. [6] Garrett.htm visited on 15/01/2009. Manual for Scientific Aptitude Test Battery. and are standardized in view of a number of rational criterion. But different norms as per gender. K. The standardization was done on Vol. Visited on November 8. the dimensions are operationally well defined. . whereas was not used in a number of the other related tests. Annual Report.. & Vashistha.nic. A Critical Study of Scientific Attitude and Aptitude of the Students and Determination of some Determinants of Scientific Aptitude. Retrieved from http://www. visited 15. [3] Department of Science Technology. Government of India. 1.Retrieved from dst.1.htm. / Educationia Confab 96 ISSN: 2320-009X the basis of the response of 703 students of a particular state in India the sample size could be made more including students of some other states also in order to provide a more appropriate norm. the test can be used conveniently by teachers in a physics class room (a detailed manual is available) to explain the result of students’ success or failure in class examinations or as a criterion of selection in case of admissions. (1987).S. a longitudinal study may also be conducted to estimate more accurately how far the test could predict future success of learners. R. retrieved from http// This advanced statistical technique. locality etc. In the test. Kurukshetra University. & Aurora.C.possibility to predict their future accomplishment in learning physics accurately. D. R. S. Theory and Practice of Psychological Testing. New York.A Trend Report on Research in Science Education.D. And Woodworth. (1986). David Mekay Company Inc. Conclusion The detailed review reveals that though aptitude in physics is a major area of concern of educators.S. Researchers working in the related field of science education may also use it as a tool.. References [1] Agarwal.H. [5] Ganguli. January 2013 Mukhopadhyay. U. but the available tests are extremely inadequate in number. For estimating reliability and validity a number of criteria were used.2009. (1965). Agra. K. University of Kalyani.

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