Master of Arts
This study examines attitudes towards science for 198 students enrolled in an introductory university environmental science course. Conceptual frameworks include the theory of planned behaviour and the tripart model of attitudes to assess science attitudes. A quantitative research design, using secondary data, is used to address this purpose. Within this study, Enjoyment of Science and Science Anxiety factors of attitudes towards science, components of the affective domain of attitude are compared to student gender, faculty, and academic year using a modified mATSI:2 questionnaire. It is found that faculty displays the most significant association with science attitudes, with students from science faculties displaying significantly more positive science attitudes compared to students from nonscience faculties. Male students also display significantly more positive science attitudes compared to female students on two Science Anxiety factor items- "it makes me nervous to even think about science” and “it scared me to have to take a science class”. A significant difference is also found between first-year and upper-year students on one Science Anxiety factor item- “No matter how hard I try, I cannot understand science”. Additionally, two distinct clusters are also identified- one cluster displaying positive science attitudes and another displaying neutral and negative science attitudes. Results reveal that the cluster displaying positive science attitudes contains significantly more science faculty students than the cluster displaying neutral and negative science attitudes. Overall, this study demonstrates a relationship between student faculty membership and attitudes towards science for students enrolled in an introductory university environmental science course.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study examines the science attitudes of students enrolled in an introductory environmental science course at Western University. Attitude is a major component of behaviour as per the theory of planned behavior. Research displaying differences in science attitudes among different genders, majors and academic years allows teachers to identify which populations need the most support towards developing positive science attitudes. Literature has not well examined science attitudes within post-secondary introductory environmental science courses, which is especially concerning with the ongoing climate crisis around the world and increasing science skepticism in the public. For this reason, it is imperative to examine the attitudes of students within post-secondary introductory environmental science courses so teachers can develop appropriate supports.
Conceptual frameworks include the theory of planned behaviour and the tripart model of attitudes to assess science attitudes within the introductory environmental science course. Enjoyment of science and science anxiety, components of the affective domain of attitude are examined in this study.
This study uses secondary data that is analyzed quantitatively through descriptive, inferential, and exploratory analysis. This involves determining differences between subpopulations based on science attitudes, the identification of clusters from responses to the modified mATSI:2 questionnaire, and examination of relationships between clusters based on demographic data.
This study finds that student faculty has a significant association with attitudes towards science on all modified mATSI:2 items, with science faculty students displaying more positive science attitudes than nonscience faculty students. Student gender and academic year both display significant differences in science attitudes on only a small subset of questionnaire items. Additionally, two clusters are identified, one consisting mostly of nonscience students with neutral and negative attitudes towards science and the second consisting of both science and nonscience students with positive views towards science. The implication of these results is that a subpopulation of nonscience students exhibit more negative science attitudes. It is recommended that this population be explored further to understand the differences between these nonscience faculty students, and that curriculum be created to improve their science attitudes.
Brar, Rajan, "Science Attitudes of Students Enrolled in an Introductory Environmental Science Course" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9553.