Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies

Specialization

Developmental Science

Department

Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Hyunjin Kim

Abstract

Negative or stereotypical perceptions of scientists and poor attitudes towards science have deterred diverse populations from entering careers in science (Cheryan, Master, & Meltzoff, 2015; Farland-Smith, 2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education was written as a foundation for national standards in the United States with the vision that a more diverse population of students will pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers when they engage in quality science instruction beginning in kindergarten and continuing through grade 12 (NRC, 2011). Realizing a new vision of quality science instruction calls for a systemic shift in teacher preparedness and professional development. This quasi-experimental pretest/posttest research design used a Draw-A-Scientist Test (DAST) to evaluate students’ perception of scientists and science self-concept before and after the implementation of a teacher professional development program. The intervention included the participation of one urban and one rural school district with a local university, that provides teacher professional development workshops; resources and materials for science instruction; classroom coaching; and administration support for principals and superintendents. Two coders used a modified DAST rubric to analyze a purposeful sample of 460 drawings from students age 5-8. Inter-rater reliability was established using Cohen’s kappa. Perceptions of scientists were identified as traditional, sensational, or progressive. Posttest data show a significant increase in progressive perceptions of scientists including an increase in female scientists, scientists working outside of the traditional lab, and scientists engaging in true scientific practices.

These findings contribute to literature on professional development programs and the importance of beginning science instruction in early elementary classrooms as a factor in changing students’ perceptions of scientist and science self-concept, which may influence career aspirations.

Available for download on Saturday, June 15, 2019

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