Date of Graduation

5-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Michael Miller

Committee Member

G. David Gearhart

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Beasley

Keywords

Attitudes, Beliefs, Education, Mathematics, Physics, Reformed

Abstract

With an estimated 17.3 million STEM jobs in the US, there exists a need for a STEMready workforce that is science literate with positive attitudes and beliefs toward the learning and teaching of mathematics and science (Graf, Fry, & Funk, 2018). However, the US has seen a steady decline in the number of high school students interested in STEM-related fields with only 16% of interested students with proven proficiency in mathematics and science and are ready to enroll in college STEM programs (ACT, 2017; Osborne & Dillon, 2008; Stake & Mares, 2001). With the decline in student interest, the US has fallen behind both China and India in the production of a STEM-ready workforce (Herman, 2018). To address the need for students to enroll in STEM-related fields, students need positive attitudes toward the learning and teaching of mathematics and science. Colleges and universities can increase positive attitudes and beliefs in students by immersing students in reformed science courses that utilize active learning practices such as experiential learning and modeling. The study uses quantitative data analysis on a linear data set collected over twelve years, 2002 – 2013, through the use of a survey tool to collect pre- and post-survey data on students’ attitudes and beliefs toward the nature of and the teaching of mathematics and science. The study focuses on two groups of students in two different reformed physics courses at a large midsouth research university; pre-service elementary education majors and physics and engineer majors. Pre-service education majors are students in training who have yet to undertake any teaching and are required to enroll in the Physics for Elementary Teachers course, an integrated lecture and lab course that meets three times a week for 110 minutes each time. The physics and engineer majors complete a calculus-based sequence of courses, University Physics I and II, that meets twice a week for a one-hour lecture and twice a week for a two-hour lab. This study was guided by wanting to know to what extent are there significant differences in the change (pre- and post-test) in the attitudes and beliefs about the nature of and teaching of mathematics and science for students who have completed a one- or two-semester sequence of a reformed science course. The survey tool used in the study was The Attitudes and Beliefs about the Nature of and Teaching of Mathematics and Science Survey. Study findings show that pre-service education students had very little change, remaining slightly higher than neutral, on attitudes and beliefs toward understanding the nature of science but, had significant changes toward teaching mathematics and science. Science students demonstrated significant positive changes in attitude toward understanding the nature of science but, had low attitudes towards learning to teach mathematics and science. The results of the study show that reformed science courses, as measured by a TROP observation, ties into Kolb’s cycle on experiential learning with modeling as a reformed active learning practice in science labs, has an impact on student attitudes and beliefs.

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