Persuasive communication: A theoretical model for changing the attitude of preservice elementary teachers toward metric conversion

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Abstract

This study was based on Hovland's four-part statement, “Who says what to whom with what effect,” the rationale for persuasive communication, a theoretical model for modifying attitudes. Part I was a survey of 139 perservice elementary teachers from which were generated the more credible characteristics of metric instructors, a central element in the “who” component of Hovland's model. They were: (1) background in mathematics and science, (2) fluency in metrics, (3) capability of thinking metrically, (4) a record of excellent teaching, (5) previous teaching of metric measurement to children, (6) responsibility for teaching metric content in methods courses and (7) an open enthusiasm for metric conversion. Part II was a survey of 45 mathematics educators where belief statements were synthesized for the “what” component of Hovland's model. It found that math educators support metric measurement because: (1) it is consistent with our monetary system; (2) the conversion of units is easier into metric than English; (3) it is easier to teach and easier to learn than English measurement; there is less need for common fractions; (4) most nations use metric measurement; scientists have used it for decades; (5) American industry has begun to use it; (6) metric measurement will facilitate world trade and communication; and (7) American children will need it as adults; educational agencies are mandating it. With the “who” and “what” of Hovland's four-part statement defined, educational researchers now have baseline data to use in testing experimentally the effect of persuasive communication on the attitude of preservice teachers toward metrication.

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