Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Raymond Ostrander

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Lee Davidson

Abstract

Problem.

A significant segment of the U.S. population, under-represented students, is under-engaged or disengaged in secondary science education. International and national assessments and various research studies illuminate the problem and/or the disparity between students’ aspirations in science and the means they have to achieve them. To improve engagement and address inequities among these students, more contemporary and/or inclusive pedagogy is recommended. More specifically, multicultural science education has been suggested as a potential strategy for increased equity so that all learners have access to and are readily engaged in quality science education. While multicultural science education emphasizes the integration of students’ backgrounds and experiences with science learning , multimedia has been suggested as a way to integrate the fundamentals of multicultural education into learning for increased engagement. In addition, individual characteristics such as race, sex, academic track and grades were considered. Therefore, this study examined the impact of multicultural science education, multimedia, and individual characteristics on under-represented students’ engagement in secondary science.

Method.

The Under-represented Students Engagement in Science Survey (USESS), an adaptation of the High School Survey of Student Engagement, was used with 76 highschool participants. The USESS was used to collect pretest and posttest data concerning their types and levels of student engagement. Levels of engagement were measured with Strongly Agree ranked as 5, down to Strongly Disagree ranked at 1. Participants provided this feedback prior to and after having interacted with either the multicultural or the nonmulticultural version of the multimedia science curriculum. Descriptive statistics for the study’s participants and the survey items, as well as Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for internal consistency reliability with respect to the survey subscales, were conducted. The reliability results prompted exploratory factory analyses, which resulted in two of the three subscale factors, cognitive and behavioral, being retained. One-within one-between subjects ANOVAs, independent samples t-test, and multiple linear regressions were also used to examine the impact of a multicultural science education, multimedia, and individual characteristics on students’ engagement in science learning.

Results.

There were main effects found within subjects on posttest scores for the cognitive and behavioral subscales of student engagement. Both groups, using their respective versions of the multimedia science curriculum, reported increased engagement in science learning. There was also a statistical difference found for the experimental group at posttest on the measure of “online science was more interesting than school science.” All five items unique to the posttest related to the multimedia variable were found to be significant predictors of cognitive and/or behavioral engagement.

Conclusions.

Engagement in science learning increased for both groups of participants; this finding is aligned with other significant research findings that more embracive and relevant pedagogies can potentially benefit all students. The significant difference found for the experimental group in relation to the multimedia usage was moderate and also may have reflected positive responses to other questions about the use of technology in science learning. As all five measures of multimedia usage were found to be significant predictors of student engagement in science learning, the indications were that: (a) technical difficulties did not impede engagement; (b) participants were better able to understand and visualize the physics concepts as they were presented in a variety of ways; (c) participants’ abilities to use computers supported engagement; (d) participants in both groups found the online science curriculum more interesting compared to school science learning; and (e) the ability to immediately see the results of their work increased engagement in science learning.

Subject Area

Science--Study and Teaching (Secondary); Under-represented Students Engagement in Science Survey;

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