Student interest in science during the transition from K-12 to college and after taking a single science course

Friday 1:30pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Presentation


David Reed, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Emily Kaplita, Dickinson College
David A. McKenzie, Emporia State University
Rachel Jones, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Mark Lyford, University of Wyoming
Students often enter college with preconceived notions about science. Certain misconceptions, coupled with a potential for a limited number of science classes during college for non-science majors, can make correcting misconceptions a very daunting challenge. In order to efficiently commutate complex science issues that our society needs to collectively understand and deal with, such as climate science, instructors need to better understand the student experiences that have created their preconceived notions. In many cases, a lack of data about student's experiences leads to instructors simply guessing at how students are thinking about and interacting with science. Student surveys were used in our work to quantify pre-college experiences in order to examine the transitions from the K-12 environment into college. Surveys were given to nearly 400 students across 3 different schools in the Oklahoma City Metro area. Students show an increase in their interest in science throughout their educational careers and significant differences are shown in how students interact with science in different settings (classroom, with family/friends or on their own). Student interest in multiple aspects of science (knowledge of science content and the scientific process, science's impact on society, lab and field work) is also shown to be a potential problem as the quantifiable aspect of science (mathematics and statistical analysis) has higher negative interest. Finally, these results are combined with results from another study that shows the strong impact that one science course for non-science-majors can have on student attitudes towards science is persistent in time after the course. While students may have a limited amount of time to learn complex science topics, here we show that even non-science-major students are interested in science coming into college and more interested after taking a science course. Our collective educational efforts can have a meaningful and lasting impact on our students.

Presentation Media

Student Interest In Science Reed (Acrobat (PDF) 539kB Jul19 16)
Student Interest In Science Reed (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 711kB Jul19 16)