Date

9-2016

Department

School of Education

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Chair

Kurt Y. Michael

Keywords

Attitudes, Enjoyment, Expectancies, Gender, Usefulness, Value

Disciplines

Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Gifted Education | Other Education

Abstract

Science fairs afford students at all grade levels the opportunity to practice thinking as a scientist does, a valuable 21st century skill (Jacobs, 2010) and may influence students to pursue STEM-related careers. Even though science fairs have been occurring since the 1920s, literature related to science competitions, especially science fairs, is limited (Dionne et al., 2012; Terzian, 2009). The purpose of this quantitative study was to use a causal comparative research design to determine if there is a difference in overall attitudes towards science fairs, enjoyment of science fairs, and usefulness of science fairs of female and male students at private Christian middle schools. The sample included 146 fifth through eighth grade students, 72 males and 74 females from four private Christian schools in the southern United States. The researcher visited each school and administered the Students’ Attitudes toward Science Fairs (SATSFS) instrument (Michael & Huddleston, 2014) to the students on the day of the local science fair. A one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to determine the difference in attitudes between the female and male participants toward science fairs in the areas of overall attitude, student’s enjoyment, and student’s usefulness of science fairs. The result of the MANOVA was not significant at an alpha level of .05, where F (2, 143) = 2.52, p = .08, partial ƞ2 = 0.034, suggesting there are no significant differences on the dependent variables (enjoyment, usefulness, and overall attitude toward science fairs) by gender of fifth through eighth grade students in Christian private schools. The effect size as measured by partial eta squared was small. Implications for educators include the need to address gender differences in STEM education at earlier stages of development, and the importance of stressing personal meaning and relevance to science-related activities. Recommendations for further studies were made.