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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Wednesday, June 17 • 11:15am - 11:45am
CON01.01 - Investigating the influence of learning attitudes on students' choice of major

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Less than a year in to their university experience, students are faced with perhaps the most important decision of their undergraduate careers: their choice of major. While universities and departments invest significant time and effort in curriculum design, course design, advising, and outreach activities intended to support students in their choice, previous work has shown that students’ attitudes towards a discipline at the beginning of first year - prior to any of these interventions - can substantially influence their choice of major. This presentation will share the results of a recent investigation of how students’ attitudes towards chemistry change over the course of their first year, and how attitudes, academic achievement, and pedagogy may combine to influence students’ choice of major. The investigation was based on the analysis of a large database of students’ grades, majors, and responses to a widely used attitudinal survey administered at the beginning and end of each first-year term. We also conducted a series of focus groups with 1st and 2nd year students to develop a more complete understanding of influential factors, including how pedagogy impacts students’ perceptions of a scientific discipline. Although the present work focuses on grades and attitudes in chemistry, the tools, processes, and general trends of this investigation should be applicable to any learning discipline. This work was carried out with the ultimate goal of guiding recruitment and retention efforts to bring them into better harmony with the factors that bear the greatest influence on students’ decisions.

Barbera, J., Adams, W. K., Wieman, C. E., & Perkins, K. K. (2008). Modifying and Validating the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey for Use in Chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 85(10), 1435. doi:10.1021/ed085p1435

Perkins, K. K., & Gratny, M. (2010). Who Becomes a Physics Major? A Long-term Longitudinal Study Examining the Roles of Pre-college Beliefs about Physics and Learning Physics, Interest, and Academic Achievement. Physics Education Research Conference, 1289(1), 253–256. doi:10.1063/1.3515214

Wednesday June 17, 2015 11:15am - 11:45am PDT
Mackenzie Room

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