ERIC Number: ED416092
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Science and Mathematics versus Other School Subject Areas: Pupil Attitudes versus Parent Attitudes.
Andre, Thomas; Whigham, Myrna; Hendrickson, Amy; Chambers, Sharon
A descriptive study of elementary students' and parents' attitudes towards science and other school subjects was conducted. Iowa students in grades K-6 and their parents completed attitude surveys. Different versions of the surveys were used for students in grades K-3, 4-6 and their parents. Younger (K-3) students were asked about four school subjects: (1) math; (2) reading; (3) physical science; and (4) life science. Three attitudes were assessed about each subject: (1) positive affect (liking) toward the subject; (2) perceived self-competence in the subject; and (3) the degree to which the subject was seen as related to male-oriented, female-oriented, or neutral jobs. Older (4-6) students were asked about 12 school subjects and for each subject were asked about their positive affect, perceived self-competence, the effort expended, the perceived importance for their future, the grade expected, and the perceived sex-role stereotyping of jobs related to the subject. For each of the four subjects used for younger elementary students, parents were asked to indicate their own perceived competence, their perception of their child's competence, the importance for their child's future, their day-to-day usage, and how well they expected their child to perform. Major findings included: (1) girls perceived higher competence in reading and boys in physical science; (2) boys and girls did not differ in liking of science--girls liked reading more than boys; (3) parents perceived boys as more competent in science; (4) parents perceived reading and math as more important for younger students; (5) science was perceived as more important for boys by parents; and (6) both boys and girls saw jobs related to science as more male dominated than female dominated. This finding was as true for the younger students as the older students. These results provide a more comprehensive picture of the development of attitudes about science in the elementary school than had previously existed. In many ways they were consistent with expectations from research with older students; however, the results suggest that part of the genesis of gender differences in science achievement and science-related careers, particularly in physical science, may lie in attitudinal reactions that begin to develop even at the earliest elementary school years. Additional analyses and discussion are described in the full report. Contains 82 references. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Chicago, IL, March, 1997).