Attitudes in the culture of the learning environment in the International Science Classroom.
AuthorFacciola, Peter Charles.
Committee ChairSalomon, Gavriel
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation was a demonstration of a systemic approach to research about attitudes and the learning environment in a science classroom. It was based on a distinction between analytic and systemic research (Salomon, 1991). Analytic research focuses mainly on the causal effects of changes in the contents of one isolated factor on another. The systemic approach focuses on the patterns of structural relationships in an entire set of interdependent, transactionally defined factors. Therefore, classrooms were conceptualized as cultural systems to emphasize their mutually defining, transactional, aspects. On this basis, the systemic approach should raise different questions and new answers to educational issues. This distinction is critically important in science classrooms. Educators attempt to instill positive attitude change in their students by creating novel learning environments (DeBoer, 1991). Yet, researchers have examined only the effects of changes in isolated aspects of these new environments, in an analytic manner. Therefore, this dissertation demonstrated how students' attitudes were situated in the entire system of structural relationships in a classroom culture. Students (N = 162) participated in a novel curriculum called the International Science Classroom (ISC), which emphasized authentic, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based learning experiences. The contents of students' attitudinal, environmental, and cognitive perceptions, reported before and after the ISC, were analyzed with repeated MANOVA. The systemic relationships were analyzed with Small Space Analysis (SSA), a multidimensional scaling technique (Guttman, 1968). Students reported content changes which generally were consistent with past research: more favorable attitudes, greater achievement, and fewer gender differences. However, their more negative perceptions of the learning environment were unexpected. Students also reported changed structural perceptions of the ISC which were more tightly integrated, more dominated by mindful engagement, and more characterized by tightly clustered perceptions of attitudes and the learning environment. These results were discussed in reference to the unique insights afforded by the systemic analysis of the situation of attitudes in the classroom culture. The overarching conclusion was that analytic and systemic approaches offer complementary insights into science education, and therefore, must both be further developed.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading and Culture