Learning Environments Research

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 141–169 | Cite as

Assessment of the laboratory learning environment in an inquiry-oriented chemistry laboratory in Arab and Jewish high schools in Israel

Original Paper


An inquiry-oriented laboratory in chemistry was integrated into the chemistry curriculum in Jewish high schools in Israel, and after a short period was also implemented in Arab sector. In this study, we investigated the effect of culture on the perceptions of laboratory classroom learning environments by comparing the perceptions of Arab and Jewish high school students who learned the inquiry-oriented chemistry laboratory. The learning environment is influenced by student-teacher relationship and we thought that this relation is an important issue in the inquiry laboratory and is different between the Arab and Jewish populations. However, until recently, the Arab teachers have remained in the centre of the learning process and their students perceived them as the main source of knowledge and information. In this study, we used both quantitative and qualitative methods to determine whether the laboratory learning environment was different in Arab and Jewish classes that learned in the inquiry-oriented laboratory in chemistry. A statistical comparison of Arab and Jewish inquiry groups revealed significant differences in their actual and preferred perceptions. From the qualitative part of the study, we found that the teachers and students from the Arab and Jewish sectors were statistically similar in the categories that we measured during the inquiry phase, but they were statistically different during the pre-inquiry phase of the laboratory. From the interviews with the teachers and the students, we found that there were differences in the student-teacher relationship between the two sectors.


Chemistry learning Ethnic issues in science education Student-teacher interactions Inquiry-oriented chemistry laboratory Laboratory classroom learning environment 



The authors would like to thank all persons who helped us in our present study. Special thanks go to Abdullah Khalaileh, a chemistry advisor in the Arab sector for his help in making arrangements and connections with teachers. In addition, we would like to thank Yetty Varon from the Science Education Department at the Weizmann Institute of Science for her help in the statistical analysis.


  1. Abu-Asba, Kh. (1997a). The structure of the Arab educational system and organizational alternatives. Givat Haviva: The Center for the Study of Peace. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  2. Abu-Asba, Kh. (1997b). Arab children and Arab youth in Israel—In the existing situation towards a future agenda. Givat Haviva: The Center for the Study of Peace. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  3. Al-Haj, M. (1989). Social research on family life styles among Arabs in Israel. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 20, 175–195.Google Scholar
  4. Al-Haj, M. (1995a). Kinship and modernization in developing societies: The emergence of instrumentalized kinship. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 26, 311–328.Google Scholar
  5. Al-Haj, M. (1995b). Education, empowerment and control: The case of Arabs in Israel. New York: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  6. Al-Haj, M. (1996). Education among Arabs in Israel: Control and social change. Jerusalem: Magnes. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  7. Al-Haj, M. (1999). Higher education among the Arabs in Israel: Control and social change. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press.Google Scholar
  8. Azaiza, F., & Ben-Ari, A. T. (1997). Minority adolescents’ future orientation: The case of Arabs living in Israel. International Journal of Group Tensions, 27, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Badran, N. (1969). Al-Ta’lim wa-al-Tahdith fi al-Mujtama’ al-Arabi al-Filastini [Education and modernization in Palestinian Arab society]. Beirut: PLO Research Centre.Google Scholar
  10. BenZvi, R., Hofstein, A., Kempa, R. F., & Samuel, D. (1977). Modes of instruction in high school chemistry. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 14, 433–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bybee, R. (2000). Teaching science as inquiry. In J. Minstrel & E. H. Van Zee (Eds.), Inquiring into inquiry learning and teaching in science (pp. 20–46). Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).Google Scholar
  12. Eilam, B. (2002). Passing through a western-democratic teacher education: The case of Israeli Arab teachers. Teacher College Record, 104, 1656–1701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fisher, D., Harrison, A., Henderson, D., & Hofstein, A. (1999). Laboratory learning environments and practical tasks in senior secondary science classes. Research in Science Education, 28, 353–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fogel-Bijaoui, S., & Bechar, S. (2003). Romantic utopia’, family and social change: Attitudes of students, Jews and Arabs preparing for the teaching profession, in relation to the family. Beit Berl: Beit Berl. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  15. Fraser, B., & McRobbie, C. J. (1995). Science laboratory classroom environments at schools and universities: A cross-national study. Educational Research and Evaluation, 1, 289–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fraser, B., McRobbie, C. J., & Giddings, G. J. (1993). Development and cross-national validation of a laboratory classroom instrument for senior high school students. Science Education, 77, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garnett, P. J., Garnett, P. J., & Hackling, M. W. (1995). Refocusing the chemistry lab: A case for laboratory-based investigations. Australian Science Teacher Journal, 41, 26–32.Google Scholar
  18. Haj-Yahia, M. M., & Shor, R. (1995). Child maltreatment as perceived by Arab students of social science in the West Bank. Child Abuse and Neglect, 19, 1209–1219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hamady, S. (1960). Temperament and character of the Arabs. New York: Twayne.Google Scholar
  20. Hodson, D. (1990). A critical look at practical working school science. School Science Review, 70, 33–40.Google Scholar
  21. Hofstein, A. (1988). Practical work and science education. In P. Fensham (Ed.), Developments and dilemmas in science education (pp. 189–217). London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hofstein, A. (2006). Improving the classroom laboratory learning environment by using teachers’ and students’ perceptions. In D. Fisher & M. Khine (Eds.), Contemporary approaches to research on learning environments: Worldviews (pp. 75–91). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hofstein, A., Cohen, I., & Lazarowitz, R. (1996). The learning environment of high school students in chemistry and biology laboratories. Research in Science & Technological Education, 14, 103–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofstein, A., Levy-Nahum, T., & Shore, R. (2001). Assessment of the learning environment of inquiry-type laboratories in high school chemistry. Learning Environments Research, 4, 193–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (1982). The role of the laboratory in science teaching: Neglected aspects of research. Review of Educational Research, 52, 201–217.Google Scholar
  26. Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The laboratory in science education: Foundation for the 21st century. Science Education, 88, 28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hofstein, A., Navon, O., Kipnis, M., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2005). Developing students’ ability to ask more and better questions resulting from inquiry-type chemistry laboratories. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 791–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hofstein, A., Shore, R., & Kipnis, M. (2004). Providing high school chemistry students with opportunities to develop learning skills in an inquiry-type laboratory: A case study. International Journal of Science Education, 26, 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hofstein, A., & Walberg, H. J. (1995). Instructional strategies. In B. J. Fraser & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Improving science education (pp. 1–20). Chicago: National Society for the Study of Education.Google Scholar
  30. Kelly, P. J., & Lister, R. E. (1969). Assessing practical abilities in Nuffield A-Level biology. In J. F. E. Eggleston & J. F. Kerr (Eds.), Studies in assessment. London: English Universities Press.Google Scholar
  31. Krajcik, J., Mamlok, R., & Hug, B. (2001). Learning science through inquiry. In L. Corno (Ed.), Education across a century: The centennial volume (NSSE yearbook). Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Krystyniak, R. A., & Heikkinen, H. W. (2007). Analysis of verbal interactions during an extended open-inquiry general chemistry laboratory investigation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, 1160–1186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lazarowitz, R., & Tamir, P. (1994). Research on the use of laboratory instruction in science. In D. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning (pp. 94–128). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  34. Levy Nahum, T. (2000). The development of tools for assessing students’ performance in inquiry-type experiments in the context of the high school chemistry laboratory (in Hebrew). Unpublished Master’s dissertation, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.Google Scholar
  35. Lightburn, M. E., & Fraser, B. J. (2007). Classroom environment and student outcomes among students using anthropometry activities in high school science. Research in Science and Technological Education, 25, 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lunetta, V. N. (1998). The school science laboratory: Historical perspectives and context for contemporary teaching. In B. Fraser & K. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 349–364). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  37. Lunetta, V. N., Hofstein, A., & Clough, M. P. (2007). Learning and teaching in school laboratory: An analysis of research, theory and practice. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 393–441). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  38. Lunn, M. (1998). Applying simple κ-sample tests to conditional probabilities for competing risks in a clinical trial. Biometrics, 54, 1662–1672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  40. National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  41. Pickering, M. (1980). Are lab courses a waste of time? The Chronicle of Higher Education, 19, 80.Google Scholar
  42. Reichel, N., & Arnon, S. (2009). A multicultural view of the good teacher in Israel. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 15, 59–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reichel, N., & Mor, E. (2007). Planning the curriculum in a unique school as a uniting and empowering initiative—The Nofei Arbel school in the view of the educational staff, students of education, and professional teaching standards, theory and practice in curriculum planning. Theory and Practice in Curriculum Planning, 19(1), 49–131. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  44. Tamir, P. (1972). The practical mode: A distinct mode of performance. Journal of Biological Education, 19, 44–50.Google Scholar
  45. Tamir, P. (1986). Achievement of Jewish and Arab students who studied inquiry oriented curriculum for several years. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 12, 191–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tamir, P., & Caridin, H. (1993). Characteristics of the learning environment in biology and chemistry classes as perceived by Jewish and Arab high school students in Israel. Research in Science and Technological Education, 11, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tatsuoka, M. M. (1971). Multivariate analysis: Techniques for educational and psychological research. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  48. Tibawi, A. L. (1956). Arab education in mandatory Palestine. London: Luzac.Google Scholar
  49. Tobin, K. G. (1990). Research on science laboratory activities: In pursuit of better questions and answers to improve learning. School Science and Mathematics, 90, 403–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Toren, Z., & Iliyan, S. (2008). The problems of the beginning teacher in the Arab schools in Israel. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 1041–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Welch, W. W., Klopfer, L. E., Aikenhead, G. S., & Robinson, J. T. (1981). The role of inquiry in science education: An analysis and recommendations. Science Education, 65, 33–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wong, A. F. L., & Fraser, B. J. (1996). Environment-attitude associations in the chemistry laboratory classroom. Research in Science and Technological Education, 14, 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yaar, A., & Shavit, Z. (Eds.). (2001). Trends in Israeli society. Ramat Aviv: The Open University. (In Hebrew).Google Scholar
  54. Yeany, K. H., Larusa, A. A., & Hale, M. L. (1989, April). A comparison of performance-based versus paper and pencil measures of science process and reasoning skills as influences by gender and reading abilities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), San Francisco.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iyad Dkeidek
    • 1
  • Rachel Mamlok-Naaman
    • 2
  • Avi Hofstein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Science Education, Faculty of EducationAl-Quds UniversityJerusalemPalestine
  2. 2.Department of Science Teaching—Chemistry GroupWeizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

Personalised recommendations