Classroom Instructional Strategies and Science Career Interest for Adolescent Students in Korea: Results from the TIMSS 2003 Assessment

Article excerpt

Several instructional strategies are significantly related to student outcomes in science. Authentic instruction enables students to connect science topics learned in the classroom with real-world contexts and problems. Cooperative learning activities and homework assignments are also associated with science outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between classroom instructional activities and interest in a science career for students in Korea. Students included in this study were 5,125 students from Korea who participated in the TIMSS 2003 assessment. Several instructional strategies were examined and variance estimation procedures for complex sampling designs were employed. Students who expressed interest in a science career reported that they frequently related what they were learning in science to their dally lives. Similarly, students who frequently worked problems on their own and designed experiments or investigations also expressed interest in a science career. These results extend previous findings by examining a large national sample of students who were part of a comprehensive international assessment.

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There is continuing interest in providing students with interesting and enriching instructional experiences in order to foster achievement outcomes and greater interest in a career in science. It has been noted that increased training in science disciplines is necessary for student preparation in many career options in the future (Maurer, 2000). There is expected to be considerable growth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) positions over the next decade (Terrell, 2007). Consequently, the effects of several factors on student career choice have been explored. For instance, it was found that incorporating visitors who served as experts during middle-school science lessons resulted in increased student interest in a science career (Koszalka, Grabowski, & Darling, 2005). Research findings have also noted that science instruction and student beliefs are associated with interest in a science career (Wang & Staver, 2001). These initiatives emphasize the importance of classroom instructional experiences and real-world connections for increasing student interest in a science career.

Several instructional strategies have been found to be significantly related to student outcomes in science. For instance, university outreach programs have been designed to provide instructional and research experiences for elementary and secondary school students in order to foster student interest in science careers (Doyle, 1999; Palacio-Cayetano, Kanowith-Klein, & Stevens, 1999). Such authentic instruction enables students to connect science topics learned in the classroom with real-world contexts and problems (Lee & Songer, 2003; Murphy, Lunn, & Jones, 2006). In addition, the use of cooperative learning strategies has been found to foster positive attitudes toward science for fifth-grade students (Yu, 1998). Further, homework activities have been used effectively to improve student achievement (Cooper & Valentine, 2001). Students in Japan who reported that they were frequently assigned homework also tended to earn significantly higher achievement test scores (House, 2004). Consequently, several instructional practices are used to improve achievement in science and interest in science careers and should be considered when assessing factors associated with student outcomes in science.

A number of studies have focused on instructional strategies associated with the achievement of students in Korea (Ellinger & Beckham, 1997). Survey results from middle school and high school students in Korea indicated that they held positive attitudes about scientists and their work (Song & Kim, 1999). With respect to classroom instructional strategies used in Korea, it was noted that the use of cooperative learning activities was positively associated with student achievement and attitudes toward science (Chung & Son, 2000). …