Girls Disengage from High School Science
High school girls are bored, disengaged, and stressed in science classes, according to preliminary results of a study led by Northern Illinois University researchers Jennifer Schmidt and M. Cecil Smith. The two professors in the College of Education's Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations studied 244 high school students and 13 science teachers during the 2008-09 academic year in a study funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. They expect the research will help high school science teachers design and deliver lesson plans that best engage both girls and boys. They have found that classroom discussions are the only activity to score among the top three most engaging for both boys and girls and are the optimum way to connect with all science students. Of great concern to the researchers is the finding that as the challenge of the material rises, girls become less engaged. A similar response is seen concerning the perceived importance of the material. In both cases, boys intensify their engagement. Schmidt and Smith believe teachers can improve their instruction by using student feedback. The researchers suggest that teachers should strive to understand student perspectives. If they assess and understand student voice, they can bring those perspectives.
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