Too Cool for Science

LeeAnn Srogi, Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, and Todd Zakrajsek
On a frigid Minnesota afternoon, I had just finished a mini-lecture in my introductory class, and I threw out a question to the whole class. Chris responded enthusiastically with a wonderful and correct contribution. At this point, Sam groaned and said in a voice audible to the entire class, "suck up!" A few other eyes rolled, and several hands that had been raised were slowly lowered. I tried to ignore this and went ahead having students discuss in small groups as though nothing had happened. After class, I approached Chris and said, "I'm sorry that student was so rude to you in class." She said, "That's okay, but it's hard to stay enthusiastic. I really like this course, but every time I talk about something I have learned in here, my friends roll their eyes and tell me to shut up. And my lab group rushes through the lab, and they always want to leave early."


Claudia Khourey-Bowers, Tania Vislova, Jennifer Husman, and Martina Nieswandt
We think that there are two problems that should be addressed in this situation: discipline in the class, and protecting the enthusiastic students from peer pressure.

  1. We suggest the following steps to deal with discipline issues:
    • Address the problem on site, and don't hide your emotions
    • Talk to assaulter afterwards if you don't feel comfortable doing it in class
    • Address this issue in class next day to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
  2. Because this dilemma is not a topic of attitudes but a topic of science identity, we believe that the instructor can do the following activities in class, which will hopefully result in students developing a different science student identity:
    • Ask students what they think science students should be like
    • Where they would position themselves
    • Use media (e.g., videos, biographies, guest speakers, stories & images) to help students to redefine both their idea of what a science student is and their own ideal self (as a science student.)

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