Research in Progress

Fall 1992 Masthead

Attitudes Toward Science Among High School Students
Julianne M. Smist
Springfield College
Springfield, MA

Research conducted over the past decades has painted a disturbing picture of the state of science knowledge and ability of American students. Internationally, American students are scoring at or near the bottom on science knowledge and proficiency tests; nationally, students’ science knowledge has declined since 1969. Also dis-heartening is the fact that fewer and fewer students are choosing science as a profession and more students are avoiding college science courses.

The purpose of this proposed research is to specify, estimate and test a statistical model that explains the relationship of science self-efficacy, science aptitude, science attributions and attitude toward science, and to determine if the model is invariant with respect to students’ ability, gender and ethnicity. The model was built on the theoretical frameworks of social cognitive theory, attribution theory and attitude toward science.

A national sample of 500 eleventh and twelfth grade students will complete the Science Self-efficacy Questionnaire, a science attributions instrument, and Fraser’s Test of Science-Related Attitudes at the beginning of the school year. Data will be analyzed by means of confirmatory factor analysis to examine the constructs of attitude toward science and science self-efficacy.

The findings of this study will provide empirical foundations potentially useful in the development and evaluation of programs aimed at the recruitment and retention of women and minorities, two groups that have long been underrepresented in sciences.

Case Studies of Gifted Students With Emotional or Behavioral Problems
Terry W. Neu
The University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

The gifted student has long been considered immune to emotional or behavioral disorders. Several studies have recently questioned the lack of identification of such disorders among the gifted population. This study will investigate factors contributing to the perceived emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD) of selected gifted students. It will also examine how these students were identified as gifted and EBD. Students who have simultaneously demonstrated gifted behaviors and those characteristics associated with EBD (as defined by the National Definition Task Force, 1990) will be sought for participation in this study. Qualitative methodology, including open-ended interviews, document review, and classroom observations, will guide this descriptive case study research. This study will describe the observable characteristics of students who are both gifted and EBD. The problems relating to the identification of these students as gifted and EBD will also be examined.

A Content Analysis of the Appropriateness of Kindergarten Curriculum and Instructional Materials for High Ability Students
Florence Caillard
The University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

Research in early childhood education has continually demonstrated the importance of providing training and guidance to children during their early years. Kindergarten programs are now an important part of primary education. These programs have to adapt to a changing and diverse population (e.g., change in family or change in the workforce) and, therefore, new curriculum and new techniques for meeting the needs of students are often sought by teachers and parents. One approach to meeting these needs has been to develop curriculum according to the developmental needs of children within a specific age group. Research indicates that the developmental approach establishes a broader, more individualized, learning base than other instructional approaches. Researchers, however, currently report a wide range of variability with respect to the quality of these developmentally appropriate curriculum guides and materials. Developmentally appropriate curriculum has been defined as curriculum that is created to meet the developmental needs of the child, rather than basing curriculum decisions solely on the chronological age of the child. Little research has been found which addresses high ability young children and how the curriculum is modified to meet their needs. Kindergarten curriculum has been a topic of concern for the past few years, however, little research has been conducted to assess: 1) the quality of the kindergarten curriculum design and materials used in meeting the needs of high ability students in the regular classroom; and 2) the consistency between guidelines from various organizations to design curriculum and the actual materials used to implement the curriculum for high ability students.

The objective of this study is to use a content analysis to investigate the appropriateness of kindergarten curriculum guidelines and instructional materials used in kindergarten to meet the developmental needs of high ability kindergarten students.

The Learning Outcomes Study
Marcy Delcourt
The University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The following is a correction to an article that appeared in the March 1992 NRC/GT Newsletter

In the section Initial Results: Year one, Achievement, the text stated that “initial findings indicate that students in Special Schools showed the most significant gains in Mathematics Problem-Solving, Social Studies, and Science when compared to students in all other types of programs.” The text should read “initial findings indicate that students in special schools showed significant gains in Science when compared to students in all other types of programs. For Mathematics Problem-Solving, the increase in scores from fall to spring was significantly higher for students from special schools than for students in separate classes and comparison schools. Regarding Social Studies, students in special schools and in pull-out programs showed greater increases in scores than students in separate classes and in the comparison group.”

These results reveal complex relationships between achievement and program types. As the article indicates, these findings may be due to fluctuations in curriculum across the different programs and it is important to track the progress of these students over another year to examine whether or not these trends continue. Please refer to the full text from the March 1992 issue of the newsletter for a description of the study and additional results from the project.


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