Authentic science research in the classroom: does it promote science-related affective growth?
Shulstad, Andrew Michael
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The purpose of this concurrent mixed methods study was to investigate the effects of middle school science students' participation in authentic science research on their science-related affective characteristics. The affective characteristics considered for this study were those that have been repeatedly shown to be associated with student cognitive growth and academic achievement. These included science identity, science self-efficacy, interest and enjoyment of science, perceived relevance of science, and intrinsic motivation for science learning. Four authentic science treatments involving eight different classes and 166 total participants (120 unique) were administered. Data collection methods included novel Likert scales based on a novel student survey instrument, a naturalistic observation instrument, student interviews, and various formative assessments. Data were collected before, during, and after each treatment with the primary purpose of supporting a before versus after comparative research design. Data analysis strategies included validation and reliability analysis of the student survey instrument and Likert scales and a triangulated complex of inferential comparative quantitative analysis and thematic qualitative analysis. While effect size was small, student affective domain growth was determined to have taken place. Affective characteristics that were shown to be strengthened in a statistically significant way (p<0.05) include science identity, interest and enjoyment of science, and intrinsic motivation for science learning. Though it has some limitations, such as a significant time requirement, authentic science research in the classroom should be considered an effective way to promote student science-related affective growth.