Monday, 23 January 2012
Impact of a Summer Research Experience on High School Students' Interest in and Understanding of Science
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
This study examined high school students' understanding and perceptions of science, and how those perceptions and understandings are influenced by participation in summer research experiences. Participants were recruited from the 2011 HIRO (High school Internship and Research Opportunities, pronounced “hero”) applicant pool. HIRO is a UCAR and NOAA hosted internship designed for high school students interested in exploring careers in the atmospheric and related sciences. Study participants were divided into two groups: intervention and control. The intervention group comprised of ten students who participated in HIRO– both juniors and seniors – and were paired with research scientists and engineers to experience working at a national scientific research center and present professional posters which summarized their work.We also recruited a similarly sized control group of equally-qualified students who didn't participate in HIRO, and instead participated in two half-day tours of NCAR facilities.
Data collection consisted of pre- and post-surveys designed to identify changes in student understanding of how science works from the beginning to the end of the summer period. Surveys were adapted from Knox (2003) and consisted primarily of Likert scale questions focused on student understanding of the scientific process as well as student science self-efficacy with a focus on scientific process. The survey also included one open-ended question for additional comments and description of summer activities.
This research extends previous work on student understandings of the nature of science in biology and engineering by focusing on the atmospheric and related sciences. It is also unique in the capacity to involve scientists in a variety of different research disciplines and foci within NCAR. In addition, we seek to test the prevailing assumption that research experiences and intense mentoring (usually for undergraduates but also for advanced high school students) encourage students to pursue careers in science.