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Year 8 Students Perceptions of Science and Scientists

The perceptions students have of science and scientists influence their engagement with the subject. These perceptions are formed through exposure to scientific practices at school and outside of school, as well as by how science and scientists are portrayed. Internationally and nationally there is growing concern about the decline in students studying science beyond what is compulsory. Studies have reported that students’ ideas about scientists are dominated by stereotypical images and, while the idea of the ‘mad male scientist’ has changed over time, contemporary images that represent the ways how scientists work are still absent from many students’ experiences. In response to this concern resources have been developed to provide examples of working scientists, one of which is the New Zealand Science Learning Hub website. The use of ICT resources like this one requires technological pedagogical content knowledge, in order for it to provide meaningful learning experiences. Evidence is now needed to ascertain whether or not such resources have much influence on the ways students think about science. This study sought to explore 38 year eight students’ ideas about scientists and to observe any changes that occurred through the watching of online video narratives about scientists. The data collection methods used were drawings, classroom observations and semi-structured interviews. The results of this study reveal that the students tested were generally positive about learning science at school and had a good understanding of what scientists did. However, students’ knowledge was limited to their classroom experiences and students who participated in extra-curricular science activities displayed an advanced understanding. The video intervention showed that students who had limited science experiences showed a shift in their perceptions of science and scientists. This study suggests that to keep students engaged in science and to improve their attitudes towards science, meaningful intervention needs to occur. Teachers need to invite students’ to share their funds of knowledge and their experiences. Using meaningful resources such as those found on the Science Learning Hub website can enhance students’ understanding of science and scientists.
Type of thesis
Narayan, C. (2011). Year 8 Students Perceptions of Science and Scientists (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5588
University of Waikato
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