Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Longitudinal Investigation of Elementary Students' Science Academic Achievement in 4-8th Grades: Grade Level and Gender Differences

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Longitudinal Investigation of Elementary Students' Science Academic Achievement in 4-8th Grades: Grade Level and Gender Differences

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigated the change of the science academic achievement by grade level and gender where 222 elementary students' science and technology course scores between the 4th and 8th grades and science success percentages in 6th and 8th grades Level Determination Exam were longitudinally analyzed. Based on the findings of this study, consistent with the results of the national achievement tests, a significant decrease was observed in elementary students' science academic achievement as their grade level increased. From the analysis of the changes in science academic achievement by gender, a significant difference between the 4-8th grade science scores was found out. Based on the comparisons for each grade level, girls were consistently found to have at least slightly higher science success than boys; furthermore, it was observed that this difference became statistically significant as the grade level increased. In light of the findings of this study, recommendations were listed for enhancing the low science academic achievement of elementary students, and about closing the gap between genders, which was emphasized among the goals of the new science and technology teaching program.

Key Words

Science Academic Achievement, Longitudinal Study, Elementary Students, Science and Technology Course, Level Determination Exam.

The purpose of a teaching program is the major factor determining the content of the program and also the teaching and evaluation methods that are used (Demirel, 2011). The Ministry of Education employed a new science and technology course teaching program starting from the 2006-2007 academic year and it was aimed that student-centered constructive learning approach would replace the traditional teaching applications. Considering the individual differences in student-centered teaching, the vision of the program was announced as "whatever individual differences are present, the goal of the program is to prepare students as scientifically literate" (MEB, 2006, p.5). Therefore, it is crucial to investigate whether the program fulfills its goals for all student profiles.

A common source of individual differences, which is aimed to be eliminated, is the science achievement gap between girls and boys. The international literature on the science achievement of students usually reports findings in favor of boys (Bacharach, Baumeister, & Furr, 2003; Evans, Schweingruber, & Stevenson, 2002; Keeves, 1992; Nosek et al., 2009), however some researchers report that there is no achievement gap in terms of gender (Cole, 1997; Keeves). Among the studies comparing the success of boys and girls in different subject areas, some of them conclude that boys perform better in areas like mathematics and science and girls perform better in language and arts (Evans et al.; Hedges & Nowell, 1995), however there is a growing number of studies (Goldin, Katz, & Kuziemko, 2006; Spelke, 2005) reporting that science related skills and interest in science do not differ between girls and boys.

The science achievement level between girls and boys is also a significant concern for large-scaled international studies conducted by International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Assessment [IEA] and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]. The First International Science Study [FISS] was conducted in 19 countries in 1970-71 and the Second International Science Study [SISS] was conducted in 23 countries in 1983-84 by IEA. The common finding of these studies about science achievement was that, boys performed better than girls in all countries and the achievement gap widens as the grade level increases (Çakiroglu, 1999; Keeves, 1992).

According to the 1995 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study [TIMSS] report, 4th grader boys performed better in science than girls in about half of the participant countries, while 8th grader boys performed better in science than girls in most of the participant countries. …

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