Research on the connections between formal and informal environments has tended to go in one direction—investigating how informal activities contribute to school-based learning. In an age where lifelong learning is necessary and therefore CM should be an educational goal (Anderman & Weber, 2009), we believe it is important to understand the inverse relation as well—how schools can encourage or discourage students to engage with science outside of science classes and how school-based learning supports the learning and understanding of science in non-academic contexts. There have not been enough studies that investigated the factors that influence students' motivation to engage with science after school and on their own initiative (Bell et al., 2009; Dierking et al., 2003).
High quality instruments are crucial to the development of any field of study (Boone & Townsend, 2010; Pellegrino, Chudowsky, & Glaser, 2001). If precise and accurate measurements cannot be made it is impossible to test the quantitative aspects of theories. In this paper, we have presented a survey for measuring students' CM in science and described how it was developed and tested. The survey consists of seven Likert-type items, three which have reverse scales. Each level of science CM measured by each item, their infits and Thurstonian thresholds are provided (Bond & Fox, 2001). This information should allow researchers, including those who are not experts in Rasch analysis, to easily make use of the survey and provides a basis for making numerical comparisons between the results of different studies.
The results of the Rasch analysis used to develop the scale indicate that students tend to engage more in science-related extracurricular activities if these happens to come their way than if they need to actively seek them. Therefore, if educators wish to enhance students' engagement in such activities, they should think of ways to more widely expose adolescents to them. However, the results also show, that such exposure does not guarantee engagement, thus widening the exposure should be done in ways appealing for adolescents. For example, findings show that adolescents prefer articles that use metaphorical and poetic language, and that the narrative elements used in popular texts stimulates their interest and can motivate them to read further (Halkia & Mantzouridis, 2005). Thus, creating such readings and distributing them in the media available for adolescents may enhance their science reading.
We demonstrated the use of the new survey by using it to explore the relations between school type and students' science CM in grades 5–8, in traditional and democratic Israeli schools. We hypothesized that because democratic schools' students have been shown to experience more autonomy and to be more intrinsically motivated (Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2012; Zanzuri, 1997); they would also have higher CM. A HLM analysis of the data showed that the relation is more complicated than we initially hypothesized; beyond grade and gender, students' science CM was not related to their school type, meaning that on average, students in traditional and democratic schools do not differ in their science CM. However, while students' CM in traditional schools declined between 5th and 8th grade, it did not change significantly in democratic schools during these years. Thus, it appears that school type is indeed related to students' CM but its effect is different at different ages and becomes apparent as students grow older. This finding aligns with our previous findings which indicated similar age-related patterns in school science motivational constructs (i.e., classroom engagement, mastery goals orientation, and self-efficacy) (Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2011, 2011, 2012). Thus, it appears that not only does the motivation for school science of students in traditional schools decline during adolescence; their CM for science also declines at that time. Data reported elsewhere showed that students' motivation for school science learning at the 5th grade was not higher in democratic schools than in traditional ones, implying that democratic schools do not simply promote pre-existing motivation for science (Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2011, 2011, 2012). Data on students' perceptions of their schools and parents, as well as data from teachers and parents, suggested that these declines are related to both the home and the school environment (Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2011, 2012, 2011-2013). Thus, it is possible that schools play an important role not only in the development of school science motivation, but also in the development of out-of-school science motivation. This expands the responsibility of school science learning beyond the walls of the science classroom. It is important to note that, since these results are based on the analysis of cross-sectional data rather than on longitudinal data, they should be read with caution. Longitudinal studies tracking the development of adolescents' CM are required.
It is beyond the scope of this study to investigate why students' CM declined in traditional schools but not in democratic ones, but it should be subject to further research. For example, what is the role of the school culture in this difference and what is the role of the science classroom culture? Do the different curricula affect students CM or is it the autonomy experienced? As described before, prior research supports the hypothesis that autonomy plays an important role in explaining the difference in CM age-related trends (Pascarella et al., 1981; Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2012). If this hypothesis is correct, the results may suggest that autonomy in school has either an accumulating effect on CM (becoming apparent with time) or a differential effect (enhancing CM in older ages but not in younger ones). Either way, this suggests that if middle schools will offer their students more autonomy they might be able to reduce the decline in students' CM for science learning. Researchers in other educational domains have also pointed toward the mismatch between adolescents' developmental needs and the level of autonomy offered to them in middle schools and its detrimental effect on their motivation (Eccles et al., 1993). Further research is required in order to explore the relations between students' autonomy and their CM and to verify the ways in which such autonomy can be best offered. For example: is autonomy experienced at the whole school level important for students' science CM or is it only the autonomy in science class that matters? Does allowing students to make choices within a given curriculum suffice or is a larger range of choices, such as those offered in democratic schools, required?
School effect on CM may vary between high and low achieving students, since low achieving students were found to prefer pursuing science at home more than high achieving students (Laukenmann et al., 2003). Perhaps a positive autonomous science learning experience at school has a more dramatic influence on low achieving students, arousing their motivation for continuing science engagement out of school, more than it does for high achieving students? Future studies should look into the possible mediating effect of students' achievements in the relation between school factors and students science CM.
The results of the HLM analysis show that while the school type is related to the difference in CM between age groups it is not related to the difference between genders. Israeli girls tended to have lower science CM than boys, irrespective of their school type and their age. Many studies have shown that girls tend to be less interested in science than boys and also tend to be less motivated than boys to learn science in schools (Buccheri, Gürber, & Brühwiler, 2011; Dawson, 2000; Miller, Blessing, & Schwartz, 2006). So this finding, while new, is not so surprising. Even more so, it lends support to the validity of our CM scale. Nevertheless, it stresses once again the motivational gap between boys and girls with regard to science learning, showing that this gap is apparent also in everyday extracurricular science activities, starting already at the 5th grade (if not earlier). Future research addressing gender gaps in science education should address this gap also in everyday non-academic settings. Looking closely into gender gaps in adolescents' CM may yield insights into the antecedents of this gap. If it is not related to school type than to what is it related: unequal opportunities (Fadigan & Hammrich, 2004), unequal self-efficacy (Britner & Pajares, 2001), issues of identity (Zimmerman, 2012), or other factors? Shedding light on this question may offer ways to diminish the gender gap in science CM, which may result in higher equity in science learning, science careers, and science literacy.
The survey presented in this manuscript may be further used to investigate the relations between personal (i.e., self-efficacy) as well as contextual (i.e., classroom environment) influences on CM, in order to develop models predicting CM. Such models can inform educators who wish to enhance students' science CM. Actually, the new survey had already been used to develop such a model, in a study reported elsewhere (Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2013). The results of that study suggest, for example, that the science teachers' goals emphasis indirectly affects students' science CM, by affecting their goals in science class. The results also suggest that students' perception of their parents' motivational emphasis influences their science CM; however, this effect is higher in elementary grades than in middle school grades.
The new survey may also be used to explore the effect of CM on learning and development, to better understand the role of CM in students' life. It may be used, for example, to study the relation between CM at the middle school years and future career choices.
The CM survey may also be used to evaluate educational programs, curricula and settings (informal as well as formal ones) aimed at fostering students' science learning. Such programs should not limit their evaluation to cognitive learning outcomes, but rather evaluate also affective aspects, in particular CM. We believe that any educational initiative, aiming to advance students' science learning, should consider not only the immediate learning but also the learning that may follow it. The survey we developed may serve to enhance this goal. As the survey addresses not only students' active and passive extracurricular engagement but also their rejection of such activities, it may serve not only to evaluate the positive outcomes of educational interventions but also its possible damage. Thus, if an intervention is found to result in reducing students' CM or even making it negative, one will need to weigh the intervention's immediate benefits against its long-term damage.
It is important to note that the survey may serve as an assessment instrument for studying populations but not as a diagnostic instrument for individuals. A particular student may be engaged in science reading, browsing, and TV watching but not in talking, experimenting, and online communicating. Thus, her CM score in the survey would not be high although she may still be considered continuingly motivated for science. Such a bias in the interpretation of the scores should not occur when sampling populations, since the high reliability of the scale (Cronbach's alpha = 0.83) indicates that, on average, students who tend to engage in reading, browsing, and watching science also tend to engage in talking, experimenting, and communicating science.
Because of previous findings pointing out the critical role of motivation before and during the middle school years (Maltese & Tai, 2010; Osborne et al., 2003; Tai et al., 2006; Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2011, 2011, 2012), the survey was developed for and tested on late elementary and middle school students. Researchers who wish to use the survey to study other age groups should verify its validity and reliability for the other groups. It is possible that the levels of CM each item measures are different for older adolescents and for younger children. For example, hands-on activities may be less common among older children; thus the item assessing it may indicate a higher level of CM among high school students. In addition, if measuring science CM in high schools or college, one might also consider measuring enrollment in science courses and trips to science museums. Finally, the scale was developed and tested using data collected from students from middle to high SES in a developed country. Since Internet was widely accessible and dominant in the participants' culture, it was reasonable to include in the final scale, two items that depend on Internet access. However, using the scale with other populations (such as students from developing countries and/or from low SES background), one needs to consider whether this population indeed has wide Internet access. On the other hand, since digital technology advances so quickly, it would be advisable to update the terms used in the survey so that they align with the common practices among adolescents at the time the survey is administered.
As the survey was developed and tested on Israeli students in Hebrew, using it in English or other languages and in other cultures may also require verifying its validity and reliability. However, previous attempts to apply in Israel motivational scales, which were originally constructed for American students, found the scales to be valid and reliable, in spite of the cultural and linguistic differences (Bereby-Meyer & Kaplan, 2005; Kaplan, Lichtinger, & Gorodetsky, 2009; Vedder-Weiss & Fortus, 2011, 2011, 2012). Thus, we expect the scale we developed to be valid and reliable also for students in other countries.
To conclude, as demonstrated, much may be learned by applying the science CM survey we developed. We hope that fellow researchers will recognize the importance of studying the CM for science learning and the role environmental factors play in supporting it. We also hope that researchers will find the survey described above a useful instrument in advancing their investigations.
The authors would like to thank the reviewers and editors of this article for their insightful and constructive comments. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the ISF.