Journal of Research in Science Teaching

Cover image for Vol. 51 Issue 7

Edited By: Angela Calabrese Barton and Joseph Krajcik

Impact Factor: 3.02

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 6/219 (Education & Educational Research)

Online ISSN: 1098-2736

Virtual Issue- June 2014


Attending to Affect in Science Education

David Fortus

Abit more than 10 years after Alsop andWatts pointed out that “Despite the widespread belief that emotions are a central part of learning and teaching, contemporary work in science education exploring affect is scant” (2003, p. 1043), the level of attention given by science education researcher to affect has changed little. In the 11 years spanning 2001–2011, less than 10% of the articles published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST), Science Education (SciEd), and the International Journal of Science Education (IJSE) have dealt with emotional perspectives on teaching and learning science, such as interest, motivation, attitudes, and selfefficacy, sometimes called affect (Alsop & Watts, 2003). While this 10% actually reflects a significant number of articles (138), when one considers the centrality of affect to teaching and learning and the broad range of topics that are related to affect, it is concerning that it has received relatively so little attention.

With the hope of promoting awareness of the importance of this topic and past research on it, the rest of this article provides (A) my hypothesis why affect has been under-attended to by the science education research community and the ramifications of this under-attendance and (B) an overview of the research on affect in science education that has been published in JRST, SciEd, and IJSE between 2001 and 2011. I have made no attempt to synthesize or do a meta-analysis of this research; my purpose is to provide readers with a sense of some of the important work that has been done, to guide researchers and teachers to articles that may be relevant to their work, and to point out some weaknesses that should be avoided in the future. The overview ends by directing readers to a virtual issue of JRST on affect which presents some excellent examples of studies on affect that were published by JRSTin the past decade.
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Learning environment, motivation, and achievement in high school science

Susan Bobbitt Nolen

In a study of the relationship between high school students’ perceptions of their science learning environments and their motivation, learning strategies, and achievement, 377 students in 22 introductory science classrooms completed surveys in the fall and spring of their ninth-grade year. Hierarchical linear regression was used to model the effects of variables at both the classroom and individual level simultaneously. High intraclass agreement (indicated by high parameter reliability) on all classroom environment measures indicated that students shared perceptions of the classroom learning environment. Controlling for other factors, shared perceptions that only the most able could succeed in science classrooms and that instruction was fast-paced and focused on correct answers negatively predicted science achievement, as measured on a districtwide curriculum-linked test. Shared perceptions that classrooms focused on understanding and independent thinking positively predicted students’ self-reported satisfaction with learning. Implications of these results for both teaching and research into classroom environments are discussed.
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Developing a sustained interest in science among urban minority youth

Sreyashi Jhumki Basu, Angela Calabrese Barton

This study draws upon qualitative case study to investigate the connections between the ‘‘funds of knowledge’’ that urban, high-poverty students bring to science learning and the development of a sustained interest in science. We found that youth developed a sustained interest in science when: (1) their science experiences connected with how they envision their own futures; (2) learning environments supported the kinds of social relationships students valued; and (3) science activities supported students’ sense of agency for enacting their views on the purpose of science.
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Teacher beliefs and intentions regarding the implementation of science education reform strands

Jodi J. Haney, Charlene M. Czerniak and Andrew T. Lumpe

The purpose of this study was to determine the factors influencing teachers’ intentions to implement the four strands (inquiry, knowledge, conditions, and applications) of the State of Ohio’s (US.) Competency Based Science Model. Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior was used to examine the influence of three primary constructs (attitude toward the behavior, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control) on teachers’ intentions to engage in the targeted behaviors. The teachers’ salient beliefs for each of the primary constructs were further examined to determine their degree of contribution. Differences between various teacher populations for both intent and the three primary constructs were also investigated. The data were obtained using survey research (N = 800 Ohio teachers, randomly selected and stratified by grade level and state region). Backward solution multiple regression and analysis of variance techniques were used for statistical analyses. Results indicated that the attitude toward the behavior construct held the greatest influence of Ohio teachers’ intent to implement all four strands of the science model; several salient beliefs for each of the three constructs significantly contribute to the constructs; and significant differences exist between various teacher populations for both intent and the three constructs.
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Evaluating the impact of science-enrichment programs on adolescents' science motivation and confidence: The splashdown effect

Jayne E. Stake and Kenneth R. Mares

The impact of summer science-enrichment programs on high-school students’ science motivation and confidence was evaluated in a 7-month period following program completion. The programs took place on a college campus. The splashdown effect was defined as program-related changes the program graduates recognized in themselves that became apparent to them after reentry to their home high school. The effect was studied in a group of 88 gifted girls and boys from 38 high schools. On qualitative and quantitative measures obtained during private interviews, students reported a strong splashdown effect after returning to their high school. Results supported the validity of the splashdown concept. Splashdown motivation and splashdown confidence (i.e., recognition of program-related gains in motivation and confidence that occurred after high-school reentry) predicted change in corresponding science attitudes during the follow-up period. As predicted by social comparison theory, the intensity of the splashdown effect was associated with average school achievement in the student’s home high school. Students from academically weaker schools reported stronger splashdown effects. Implications for enhancing and evaluating the effect of science-enrichment programs on students’ science attitudes are discussed.
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The cultural production of science in reform-based physics: Girls' access, participation, and resistance

Heidi B. Carlone

Recent literature in science education suggests that, to transform girls’ participation, learning, and identities within school science, we must think about ways to engage girls in different kinds of educational activities that promote broader meanings of science and scientist. This study was designed to examine more deeply this call for a changed science curriculum and its implications for girls’ participation, interest, and emerging science identities. In this ethnographic study, I examine the culturally produced meanings of science and scientist in a reform-based physics classroom that used a curriculum called Active Physics, how these meanings reproduced and contested larger sociohistorical (and prototypical) meanings of science and scientist, and the ways girls participated within and against these meanings. The girls in this upper middle class school were mostly concerned with accessing and maintaining a good student identity (rather than connecting to science in any meaningful way) and resisted promoted meanings of science and scientist that they perceived as threatening to their good student identities. Their embrace of the ways school defined success (via grades and college admission) produced a meaning of Active Physics as a way to get credentials on a transcript and ensured their disconnection from real-world, meaningful science and science identities. The story of girls’ participation and resistance in Active Physics complicates our quest for gender-fair science and highlights the power of sociohistorical meanings of schooling and science in producing educational subjects.
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Motivation for learning science in kindergarten: Is there a gender gap and does integrated inquiry and literacy instruction make a difference

Helen Patrick,, Panayota Mantzicopoulos and Ala Samarapungavan

We investigated whether kindergarten girls’ and boys’ (N¼162) motivation for science (perceived competence and liking) differed. Children were ethnically and linguistically diverse, primarily from low-income families, and attended one of three schools. One school offered a typical kindergarten science experience. Kindergarteners in the other two schools participated in the Scientific Literacy Project (SLP)—a program based on a conceptually coherent sequence of integrated science inquiry and literacy activities. SLP lasted either 5 or 10 weeks. Regardless of sex, both groups of SLP children had greater motivation for science than children who had only the regular science experience. Moreover, children receiving 10 weeks of SLP reported greater science competence than those who received 5 weeks. Boys in regular classrooms reported liking science more than did girls, however there was no sex difference for SLP children. These results are supported by interview data accessing children’s ideas about science. The findings suggest that early meaningful participation in science is likely to promote girls’ and boys’ motivation for science.
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Is science me? High school students' identities, participation and aspirations in science, engineering, and medicine

Pamela R. Aschbacher, Erika Li and Ellen J. Roth

This study follows an ethnically and economically diverse sample of 33 high school students to explore why some who were once very interested in science, engineering, or medicine (SEM) majors or careers decided to leave the pipeline in high school while others persisted. Through longitudinal interviews and surveys, students shared narratives about their developing science identities, SEM participation and aspirations. In analysis, three groups emerged (High Achieving Persisters, Low Achieving Persisters, and Lost Potentials), each experiencing different interactions and experiences within science communities of practice in and outside of school and within the extended family. These different microclimates framed students’ perceptions of their SEM study, abilities, career options, and expected success, thereby shaping their science identities and consequent SEM trajectories. School science was often hard and discouraging; there were very few science advocates at school or home; and meaningful opportunities to work with real science professionals were scarce, even in schools with science or health academies. Students expressed positive attitudes toward science and non-science pursuits where they experienced success and received support from important people in their lives. Results underscore the key role communities of practice play in career and identity development and suggest a need for interventions to help socializers better understand the value and purpose of science literacy themselves so as to encourage students to appreciate science, be aware of possible career options in science and enjoy learning and doing science.
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Adolescents’ declining motivation to learn science: Inevitable or not?

Dana Vedder-Weiss and David Fortus

There is a growing awareness that science education should center not just on knowledge acquisition but developing the foundation for lifelong learning. However, for intentional learning of science to occur in school, out of school, and after school, there needs to be a motivation to learn science. Prior research had shown that students’ motivation to learn science tends to decrease during adolescence [Anderman and Young [1994] Journal of Research in Science Teaching 31: 811–831; Lee and Anderson [1993] American Educational Research Journal 30: 585–610; Simpson and Oliver [1990] Science Education 74: 1–18]. This study compared 5th through 8th grade students’ self-reported goal orientations, engagement in science class, continuing motivation for science learning, and perceptions of their schools’ and parents’ goals emphases, in Israeli traditional and democratic schools. The results show that the aforementioned decline in adolescents’ motivation for science learning in school and out of school is not an inevitable developmental trend, since it is apparent only in traditional schools but not in democratic ones. The results suggest that the non-declining motivation of adolescents in democratic schools is not a result of home influence but rather is related to the school culture .
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