This study aims to investigate the effect of using out-of-school learning environments for science education on preschool children's science process skills. The study group of the pretest-posttest control group unequalled quasi-experimental study consisted of 80 children aged between 60-72 months who were attending three independent kindergartens affiliated with the Ministry of Education and located in Çankaya and Etimesgut in the city of Ankara during the 2015-2016 school year. Of these children, 27 were assigned to experimental group-1, 27 to experimental group-2, and 26 to the control group.
The researcher designed a “Science Education Program With Out-of-School Activities” which included both in-class and out-of-school science activities in order to reveal the effects of activities carried out in out-of-school environments such as scientific centers, natural history museums, aquariums, planetariums, veterinary anatomy museum and the school garden on preschool children’s science process skills. Prior to implementing the program in the experimental groups, pretest evaluations were conducted and no significant difference was found between groups, meaning that all three groups had similar science process skill levels. Experimental group-1 followed both in-class and out-of-school science activities included in the “Science Education Program With Out-of-School Activities” whereas experimental group-2 followed only the in-class science activities taught by the researcher for seven weeks. The control group continued the Ministry of Education’s regular 2013 preschool curriculum by the class teacher. Information about the children and their parents were gathered by using the “Child-Parent Personal Information Form”, while children’s scientific process skills were evaluated by the “Science Process Skills Observation Form (SPSOF)” and “Preschool Children's Science Process Skills Evaluation Form (PCSPSEF)”, all of which were designed by the researcher. The descriptive analysis of the data were conducted with frequencies, percentages, mean scores, standard deviation, skewness and kurtosis coefficients. The scores of experimental and control group children from the pre and post implementations of the SPSOF and PCSPSEF were compared with the non-parametric Kruskal Wallis test. Each group’s pretest-posttest and posttest retention test scores were compared within themselves by using the Wilcoxon test, and the retention test scores of the experimental groups were compared with the Mann Whitney-U test.
The results showed that using out-of-school learning environments along with in-class science activities affected children’s science process skills positively. SPSOF and PCSPSEF scores showed that the posttest scores of the groups varied significantly; the posttest scores of experimental group 1 were higher than those of both experimental group-2 and the control group; and the posttest scores of experimental group-2 were higher than those of the control group. SPSOF scores revealed that the retention test scores of experimental group-1 were higher than those of experimental group-2 in all subdimensions other than the measurement subdimension, while PCSPSEF scores showed that the retention test scores of experimental group-1 were higher than those of experimental group-2 in all subdimensions. In line with these findings, the study makes recommendations for researchers, practitioners and families.