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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

EDWARDS, Nazeem. An analysis of the alignment of the grade 12 physical sciences examination and the core curriculum in South Africa. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2010, vol.30, n.4, pp. 571-590. ISSN 0256-0100.

I report on an analysis of the alignment between the South African Grade 12 Physical Sciences core curriculum content and the exemplar papers of 2008, and the final examination papers of 2008 and 2009. A two-dimensional table was used for both the curriculum and the examination in order to calculate the Porter alignment index, which indicates the degree of match between the two. Alignment indices of 0.8 and 0.6 for Physics and Chemistry, respectively, were computed and remained constant for Physics, but fluctuated initially for Chemistry before levelling off. Using the revised Bloom's taxonomy, discrepancies were found in terms of cognitive levels as well as content areas in both Physics and Chemistry. The cognitive level Remember is under-represented in the Chemistry and Physics examinations, whereas the cognitive levels Understand and Apply were over-represented in Chemistry. It is argued that the shift to higher cognitive levels is in line with the reported increase in cognitive complexity of the Physical Sciences curriculum. The significance of the study for Physical Science teachers is highlighted, and the potential for further research is also indicated.

Keywords : alignment; assessment; Chemistry; cognitive level; curriculum content; Physics; revised Bloom's taxonomy.

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