Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

Sub-Department

Education

First Advisor

Rhonda B Jeffries

Abstract

This purpose of this study was to examine learning environments in middle school science for African American females and its impact on science attitudes. The objective of the study was to gain insight into the perceptions of the science classroom environment as seen by middle school African American females. The "What is Happening in this Classroom" questionnaire and the "Test of Science Related Attitudes" survey were used to measure perceptions and attitudes of the females.

Participants in the study were interviewed individually to gain insight into the perceptions they had of their science classroom environment. Results revealed that females perceived a high task orientation in their science class. Also, it was revealed that females perceived investigation to be very low in their science class. Other aspects of the learning environment that were measured were student cohesiveness, teacher support, involvement, cooperation, and equity.

Attitudes toward science were measured of the females in the study. The two scales that were measured are Attitudes toward Scientific Inquiry and Enjoyment of Science lessons. Attitudes were high in Attitudes toward Scientific Inquiry because many of the females believed that science is based on experimentation and engaging in inquiry to understand the world, experimentation and inquiry in the classroom, all of which are at the heart of science. For the Enjoyment of Science scale, the attitudes among the females were low. This scale measures the enjoyment of science learning experiences such as participating in science labs. Interview data revealed that many of the students do have the opportunities to participate in investigations on a consistent basis.

The information gained from this study is beneficial to teachers, administrators, and to the science education community to create learning environments that would enhance the learning of African American females in science.

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