Relationships between attitude and achievement among college biology students

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Abstract

The purposes of this study were to (1) study changes in attitude toward science, school, and academic self among college biology students, and (2) to examine relationships between attitudes and achievement in an introductory college course in biology. The three attitude variables were assessed at the beginning and end of the study. Each of the three constructs was measured by the semantic differential and one additional instrument. One cognitive measure, biology achievement, was taken at the beginning and end of the study. This was accomplished by using the Nelson Biology Test. Another cognitive measure, grade in the course, as given by the instructor, was recorded at the end of the course. Normative data and correlation coefficients among pre- and postadministrations were calculated for each institution and the composite sample as well. An analysis of variance showed that while gains in scores on the Nelson Biology Test were significant beyond the 0.01 level of probability, changes in attitude scores were not. Correlations were calculated between the attitude and cognitive variables in this study. Relationships between academic self-concept and achievement in biology were the strongest. Data from this study show that while student cognitive behavior was changed during an introductory college biology course, selected attitudes either stayed the same or became slightly more negative. Affective as well as cognitive gains would appear to be desirable goals in college courses. As we learn more about relationships that exist between cognition and affect, science educators at all levels will become better equipped to improve learning in science.

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