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Title: The characteristics and correlates of attitudes to science among English pupils in the middle years of secondary education
Author: Ormerod, Milton Blackburn
ISNI:       0000 0001 3459 7069
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 1975
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The whole study concentrates on pupils in the top half of the ability range at the end of their third year of secondary education, since, at this stage, they usually have to make certain subject choices which are major determinants of the course of their future education and. careers. Factor analysis of the five Likert type responses to a 20 item attitude-to-science scale made by 500 pupils in 14 schools revealed the existence of two distinct sub scales: 12 items concerned with science as a school subject (S UBATT) and 8 items concerned with the social implications of science (SOCATT). The latter seemed more strongly related to subsequent science choices in the case of girls, but was not unidimensional. The scale was augmented by a further 29 potential 'SOCATT' items and applied to another 2,450 pupils in 33 schools. These pupils were divided into three ability bands: those in classes expected to be entered for 5 GCE subjects later; those only expected to be entered for 5 CSE subjects later and a 'mixed' category where the school had not differentiated the future examination potential. Factor analysis now revealed the same SUBATT and. Four 'SOCATT' scales indicating a) A robust attitude to the aesthetic/humanitarian aspects of science (AESTH). b) An attitude to the practical value of science mainly as it affected the individual (PRACT). c) An attitude to the value society put on science as indicated by the amount of money which should be spent on it (MONEY). An attitude to scientists and their activities (SSTS). Simultaneously the 'Brunel Subject Preference Grid' was administered. This obtained pupils' ranking of their preference for current school subjects by a paired comparison method; their liking for teachers (3 point scale); their subject choices for the following year and their liking for school (5 point scale). From this data alone three major findings emerged: (i) Teacher liking correlated fairly highly with subject preference (.4 to .6) but to a much less extent with subject choices. (ii) There was by no means perfect accord between subject preference and subject choice. (iii) Each school subject could be assigned a 'gender' - according to whether it was preferred by, or taken exclusively by one sex or the other. When the preferences of the co-educated in the GCE group were compared with those of pupils in single sex schools, the former polarized in such a way that each sex showed greater preference for subjects of their own gender and less preference for those of opposite gender. This also applied to choices in the case of boys but not of girls. Attitude scores also polarized (except for AESTH) as though 'science' was male. Liking for school only correlated positively with preference for the physical sciences, mathematics and, in the case of girls, latin. Only when the GCE group was sub-divided both by sex and co-educational and single sex schooling did significant differences between the correlations of the four 'SOCATT' scales and different science subject preferences and choices emerge. The correlations when these measures involved biology were negligible but the corresponding relationships involving physics and. chemistry were not. Correlations involving subject choice where higher (up to .5) than those with subject preference and discriminated more between the separate attitude scales, sexes and type of schooling. In general, the highest correlations were with the 'MONEY' scale and the lowest with the 'AESTH' scale (except in the case of single sex- educated girls). Correlations involving the 'PRACT' scale were higher with boys. With the 'Mixed-CSE1 pupils the correlations of SOCATT scores with biology choice were still negligible and those with physics choice and girls' chemistry choice were significantly lower than in the GCE groups. In the correlations of liking for different science subject teachers with SOCATT scores, a complex pattern of significant differences between sub-groups and between different SOCATT scores emerged, but only when measured separately for pupils whose scores lay above and below the medians for that group on the corresponding subject preference. Considering correlations with science subject choice and corresponding science teacher liking together, the trend was for attitude scores to be related with greater magnitude and diversity to the nature of the science being chosen and less to science teacher liking in the GCE sub-groups than among the 'Mixed-CSE' boys and girls. In the 'Mixed-CSE' sample the converse was true. Analysis of the variance of the attitude measures between schools revealed several which were atypical for one sex or both in their group. The only clear pattern emerging, however, was the tendency for girls in the 'Mixed-CSE' group to exhibit greater fluctuations in their attitude scores from school to school than the boys who were being educated alongside them.
Supervisor: Furneaux, W. D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available