The problem of perception: challenging students’ views of science and scientists through school-scientist partnerships

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    More than 50 years ago, Margaret Mead and Rhoda Metráux surveyed 35,000 students to explore their views of science and scientists. Their study revealed that students held very different personal to public views, and that despite acknowledging the importance of science, attitudes towards personal engagement in science or with scientists, was generally negative. Later work by researchers such as Chambers (1983), Finson, Beaver and Cramond (1995), and Finson (2002) confirmed this to be an enduring issue, as revealed through studies using instruments such as the Draw a Scientist Test (DAST) and the Draw a Scientist Test Checklist (DAST-C). However, some researchers concerned with this issue point to the possible value of scientists working with teachers in school-scientist partnerships (SSPs) as means of addressing some of these negative views. This chapter reports methods and outcomes from a study that explored the impact of a six-month SSP involving a New Zealand science research institute and a group of 164, 9-10 year olds. It used the DAST-C, a short response questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, to investigate the influence of the partnership on students’ views of science and scientists. Results suggest the partnership had some positive impact on students’ existing stereotypical views that could be attributed to specific design features, but that other aspects of the partnership, such as how it was executed in the classroom, actually appeared to reinforce negative perceptions. Recommendations are made that it is hoped will provide guidance for designing and implementing similar initiatives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationScience teaching and learning
    Subtitle of host publicationpractices, implementation and challenges
    EditorsPaul J. Hendricks
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherNova Science Publishers
    Number of pages43
    ISBN (Electronic)9781536174076
    ISBN (Print)9781536174069
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • scientists
    • perception
    • stereotype
    • partnership
    • engagement
    • science


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