Changing attitudes toward science: Undergraduates in 1967 and 1971



The purpose of the study was to examine the change in attitudes toward science and the scientific institution which had occurred among undergraduate university students between 1967 and 1971. Two similar cohorts of university undergraduates were given Form A of the Schwirian Science Support Scale (Tri-S) in 1967 and 1971. The populations were 398 students and 153 students, respectively. Data concerning relevant contingent independent variables were also collected.

The data were analyzed utilizing nine, two-way analyses of variance. The major independent variable, time of administration, (1967 and 1971) was always one factor; the second factor in each ANOVA consisted of each of the nine contingent independent variables: (1) age; (2) sex; (3) religious preference; (4) father's education; (5) mother's education; (6) father's occupation; (7) academic major; (8) hometown size; and (9) type of high school.

The data from the nine, two-way ANOVA's show significant differences ( p < .05 ) in only two instances. In the case of the association of the Tri-S Scores with father's occupation at times one and two, it was observed that the higher the status of the father's occupation, the higher the student's Tri-S score. This relationship was observed in both 1967 and 1971; there was no significant effect of time. Statistically significant differences in Tri-S scores were also observed among students from different sized hometowns; and in this case, there was a change over time. In 1967 students from small and medium-sized communities had significantly lower Tri-S scores than students from farms and large cities. By 1971 the mean scores of the students from small and medium sized communities had increased, producing scores slightly higher than the farm and city students.

The findings indicate that the 1971 Midwestern university students in the sample are no less positive in their attitudes toward science than their 1967 counterparts. No significant differences between overall 1967 and 1971 scores exist and no significant differences over time were observed by age, sex, religious preference, father's or mother's education, father's occupation, academic major, or high school type.