, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 213-225

Measuring Change in Students' Attitudes Toward Science Over Time: An Application of Latent Variable Growth Modeling

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to show how latent variable growth modeling can be utilized to examine change in students' attitudes toward science over the middle and high school years using data from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (Miller, Hoffer, Suchner, Brown, & Nelson, 1992).The results of the present study show that students' attitudes toward science generally decline over the middle and high school years. Science self-concept was found to be the strongest predictor of attitudes toward science. Teacher encouragement of science and peer attitudes are also significant predictors of students' attitudes. The effect of the parent variable was found to be quite small and statistically nonsignificant, with the exception of the seventh grade. Boys were found to have higher initial status on attitudes toward science and their attitudes dropped faster than girls. Also it was found that students in metropolitan and rural schools have less positive attitudes toward science in the seventh grade compared to students in suburban schools. Latent variable growth modeling allows one to examine change in attitudes and also examine the effects of time-varying and time-invariant predictors. Substantive and methodological implications of this technique are also discussed.