Longitudinal Changes in Students' Attitudes towards Natural Sciences during the Transition from Primary School to Secondary School
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Supervisor: Annette Upmeier zu Belzen
The global intent of science education is the individual development of students and the development of competencies, knowledge, skills, and attitudes. For the accomplishment of every-day life, which is embossed by natural sciences and technology, students need to be scientific literate.
Up to now, there are few studies investigating volitional components of scientific literacy such as students’ attitudes, interests and motivation. Some research findings show that the volitional components play an important role in competence development. Many researchers pointed out that students’ attitudes towards natural sciences decline over the school years. Among them, some studies suggest that the transition to secondary school impacts learning and hence indirectly impacts attitudes as part of competences. To understand this “swing away from science”, this study focuses on the development of students’ attitudes towards natural scientific subjects in primary school and during the transition to secondary school.
The theoretical framework used in this study is the attitude construct developed in social psychology.The longitudinal research design comprises two sub-studies based upon four different attitude expressions relating to “enjoyment of learning”, “orientation towards aim and achievement”, “boredom” and “frustration”.
Two empirically tested questionnaires were put in place in order to investigate the development of students’ attitudes towards the subjects general sciences, natural sciences and biology in primary school (sub-study 1) and during the transition to secondary school (sub-study 2). The attitudes of 728 students (age 5 to 13) were characterized by the questionnaires at three time points over three years.
In accordance with the findings of other studies the results of this longitudinal study show that the initial “enjoyment of learning” (sub-study 1, n = 546) as well as “enjoyment of learning and orientation towards aim and achievement” (sub-study 2, n = 182) decline over the school years. At the same time the attitude expressions “boredom” and “frustration” can be found in an increasing number of students. After the transition to secondary school the number of students with the attitude expression “frustration” declines. However, our results also indicate that the transition to secondary school has a positive effect on the attitudes towards natural sciences, by triggering students who belong to the attitude expression “aim- and achievement orientation” and declining the number of “bored” students.
There seems to be an impact of the transition on the development of students’ attitudes who participated in this study. Knowing how attitudes develop during the transition to secondary school could be a basis for the design and development of teaching science education and help to form transition programs and strategies which trigger the development of positive attitudes. The outcome of this would contribute the development of scientific literacy.
Full text available in German
Publications related to the thesis (further publications in preparation)
Pleus, A. & Upmeier zu Belzen, A. (2009). Einstellungen zu Sach-, Nawi- und Biologieunterricht von Schülerinnen und Schülern im Land Berlin - erste Ergebnisse einer Längsschnittstudie [Students’ attitudes towards the subjects general sciences, natural sciences and biology in the federal state Berlin – preliminary results of a longitudinal study]. In A. Sandmann & U. Harms (Eds.), Lehr- und Lernforschung in der Biologiedidaktik, Vol. 3 (pp 273–288). Innsbruck: Studienverlag.
Pleus, A., Upmeier zu Belzen, A. & Hartmann, J. (2009). Wirbellose Tiere – Binnendifferenzierung nach Schülereinstellung [Intervertebrates – internal differentiation according to students’ attitudes]. Unterricht Biologie, (347-348), 17–23.
Pleus, A. & Upmeier zu Belzen, A. (2007). Einstellungen von Schülerinnen und Schülern bei den Übergängen zwischen Sachunterricht und Nawiunterricht im Land Berlin [Students’ attitudes during the transition between the subjects general sciences and natural sciences in the federal state Berlin]. In H. Vogt, D. Krüger, A. zu Upmeier Belzen, M. Wilde, & K. Bätz (Eds.), Erkenntnisweg Biologiedidaktik 6. (pp 121–132). Kassel: Universitätsdruckerei. Retrievable from: http://www.bcp.fu-berlin.de/biologie/arbeitsgruppen/didaktik/Erkenntnisweg/2007/2007_08_Pleus.pdf
Thesis full reference
Moormann, A. (2015). Entwicklung von Schülereinstellungen zu den Fächern Sachunterricht, Naturwissenschaften und Biologie beim Übergang von der Grundschule in die Sekundarstufe I [Longitudinal Changes in Students' Attitudes towards Natural Sciences during the Transition from Primary School to Secondary School]. Dissertation Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Retrievable from: http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/docviews/abstract.php?id=42302
Expert examiners: Annette Upmeier zu Belzen, Birgit Jana Neuhaus, Rüdiger Tiemann
Doctoral committee: Annette Upmeier zu Belzen, Susanne Schreiber, Christian Schmitz-Linneweber, Rüdiger Tiemann
Dr. Alexandra Moormann
Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science
Invalidenstr. 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Tel. +4930-2093-8312 www.naturkundemuseum.berlin