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Abstract

In the past few years, science educators and the nation at large have become increasingly concerned about the “Crisis in Science Education.” An underlying cause of this crisis is the nonuniform quality of instruction delivered by secondary science teachers. One way to improve the quality of teaching in the schools is the application of science education research findings to teaching. Most teachers are unaware of the research findings and/or do not apply them in their classrooms. This study helps determine the areas of research which are of greatest interest to secondary science teachers. Results will be used by NSTA to determine the contents of future volumes of the monograph What Research Says to the Science Teacher. A random sample of 600 secondary science teachers was obtained from the National Registry of NSTA. Teachers were sent a 23 item questionnaire that asked them to rate their interest in each research topic on a five point scale. The questionnaire contained the 12 items prepared by a NARST-NSTA committee in 1979 and an additional 11 items using the same format. Demographic data collected from the survey included sex, teaching assignment, role in school, type of school, type of community, years of teaching experience, and familiarity with What Research Says. … Data were analyzed using this demographic data as well as according to whether teachers returned the original or a follow-up questionnaire. Teachers who returned the first questionnaire had basically the same preferences as those who returned the follow-up questionnaire. Sixty percent of the teachers completed the questionnaire in usable form. Overall results of the study based on both frequency of response and on mean rating indicate that the following five topics are of greatest interest to secondary science teachers: laboratory experiences, motivational techniques, effect on college courses, problem solving, and meaningful learning. Analysis of data according to the subject taught indicated that chemistry and physics teachers are more interested in problem solving than biology teachers, and that chemistry, physics, and earth science teachers are also interested in the sequence of the content. Males and females had the same top five interests but in a different order. The same is true for teachers of grades 7–9 versus grades 10–12. Rural teachers preferences varied substantially from those in other settings and differences were also found for teachers familiar with What Research Says … compared to the rest of the sample. For every classification of teacher, the area of least interest was sex difference research.