Cinzia Cervato

Geological & Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University

 Cinzia Cervato

What are the key issues related to the role of the affective domain in teaching geoscience that you would like to engage at the workshop?

Quantitative research: development of classroom evaluation surveys suited for geoscience teaching.

Qualitative research: methodologies for data collection in large enrollment classrooms

What expertise or experience (in study of the affective domain or teaching of geoscience) will you bring to the workshop? How would you like to contribute to the workshop?

A few years ago one of my graduate students and I collected data on the attitude of students towards science and learning about science. We collected data from several hundred students and summarized the results in a paper published in Teaching Earth Sciences a couple of years ago. The study showed that male students majoring in science or technology and students who successfully passed (with a C or higher) the class had a better attitude towards learning science. I would like to figure out how students' attitude can be improved and what kind of teaching (or other aspect that is controlled by the instructor) has the most positive impact.


Research into attitudes in science focuses largely on determining if certain instruction methods affect student attitude and there is a broad range of opinions as to what attitude means and how to study it. We have analyzed the attitude of students enrolled into two introductory geology classes with the goal to test if demographic factors and success in the class play a significant role in determining students' attitude towards science and learning science. A pre-test and a post-test Likert-type attitude questionnaire were administered to two introductory Geology classes at Iowa State University during the Fall semester 2002. Results were analyzed for statistically significant relationships between attitude, gender, major, and final grade. The results show that male students, science, math and technology majors, and students who successfully passed the class have a better attitude towards learning science. Overall students showed a more positive attitude toward learning science at the end of the course. While exogenous variables such as gender, socioeconomic status, and family mobility are not under the direct influence of the school or instructor, a teaching environment that attempts to actively engage students and involve them in the learning process such as the one used in the classes surveyed for this study, can improve student attitudes.