The South African Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS), curriculum guides, and instructional materials on the Outcomes Based Education (OBE), emphasize the development and use of science process skills. Learners using these materials are expected to acquire these skills. The traditional assessment of process skills through practical work only, has practical constraints, particularly in large under resourced classes. A reliable, convenient and cost effective complementary paper and pencil test for assessing these skills may provide a solution. In South Africa, little research has been undertaken in the area of development and validation of science process skills tests. This study was an attempt to develop and validate a test of integrated science process skills, referenced to a specific set of objectives, for use in the further education and training band (grades 10 – 12). The science process skills tested for were: identifying and controlling variables, stating hypotheses, experimental design, graphing and interpreting data, and operational definitions. Thirty multiple-choice items, designed to be content independent; and gender, race, school type, and location neutral, were developed and administered to a total of 1043 grade 9, 10, and 11 learners from ten schools, in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Results from data analysis show that the test is valid, and that its test characteristics fall within the acceptable range of values for discrimination index, index of difficulty, reliability, and readability levels. Comparison of the performance of different groups of learners who wrote the test showed that the test is gender and race neutral.
© University of Pretoria 2005