Degenhart, Heather Shannon (2007-05). Relationship of inquiry-based learning elements on changes in middle school students' science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (stem) beliefs and interests. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • The purpose of this study was to develop a model describing the relationship of inquiry-based teaching elements on middle school students' science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) interests and belief changes. The study utilized pretest/posttest, correlational, and longitudinal designs. Classroom inquiry data (N = 139) and middle school students' attitudinal data (N = 1779) were collected in middle school classrooms within a 40 mile radius of Texas A&M University during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years. Results indicated 24% of the variation in middle school students' change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) interests was explained by the inquiry-learning element "teacher as listener" was very characteristic of this classroom." STEM interest change explained 55% of the variation in middle school students' STEM belief change. Analyses indicated NSF Fellows and teachers affected the rate at which middle school students' STEM beliefs and interests changed. Middle school students' STEM interests and beliefs remained significantly unchanged from pre- to post-NSF Fellow each year of the study. Classroom inquiry levels did significantly increase from beginning of school-year to end of school-year each year of the project. NSF Fellows had a positive relationship with the one inquiry element "teacher as listener" was very characteristic of the classroom; which explained middle school students' change in STEM interests. NSF Fellows had negative relationships with the inquiry elements, lessons involved fundamental concepts of the subject; lessons were designed to engage students as members of a learning community; lessons promoted strong conceptual understanding; and elements of abstraction were encouraged when it was important to do so. No inquiry elements were associated with middle school students' change in STEM beliefs. Middle school students' change in STEM interests were positively associated with three inquiry elements, "teacher as listener" was very characteristic of the classroom; students were involved in the communication of their ideas to others using a variety of means and media; and student questions and comments often determine the focus and direction of classroom discourse. The inquiry element, instructional strategies and activities respected students' prior knowledge and the preconceptions inherent therein, was negatively associated with changes in middle school students' STEM interests.

publication date

  • May 2007