The
Electronic Journal
of Science Education

ISSN 1087-3430

Volume 1, No. 3-- March 1, 1997

University of Nevada, Reno

John R. Cannon, Editor
David T. Crowther, Associate Editor

 
 visits to this site since March 1, 1997

Editor's note: Due to a server change, the counter was reset on 6/8/97 and again on 10/21/97.


Asteroid...Picture of an Asteroid
was the title of the movie that recently aired on the National Broadcasting Company's Sunday and Monday evenings line up of programming (Feb. 16-17, 1996). The basic tenet of the made for T.V. movie was the localized destruction of Earth due to two asteroids reeling on a collision course with humanity. A beautiful young astronomer (leading lady) discovered the cosmic catastrophe, which ultimately was disintegrated in the heavens by a Star Wars-type laser technology...only...the lasers reached just one of the asteroids, leaving the other intact to smash into Dallas, Texas.
    Previous to the movie's broadcast, a local talk radio show(an NBC affiliate) was promoting this television event with a daily asteroid-trivia question of the day complete with prizes.  At first, I thought, "Well, there you go...another science-hype", and sure enough, with the applied rigor of the trivia questions, one could hardly miss.
     Over the next few days of listening to the radio program, however, I began to change my mind.  Even though the trivia questions were not difficult, the daily audience, attempting to answer the questions correctly, was truly engaged and excited about the movie, and especially the science content surrounding it...a sort of  would it-could it happen kind of excitement.
     The only logical next step for me was to actually watch the movie -- for science content, portrayal, and accuracy of course!  To my surprise, no major flaws in science content were broadcast.  Local astronomy professors were later interviewed following the heavenly event and verified that, "Yes, something like this c o u l d happen, but the likelihood is . . ."
 


    While lamenting the next day with EJSE co-editor Dave Crowther about the lack of "bad content" displayed in the movie, he said "did you hear the line about 'looking up'?"  I followed with, "what line?"  
     Dave continued, "remember when the astronomer and the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) guy (leading man) were walking around outside the observatory and he asked her how she became an astronomer?  She said, "I guess I was always looking up."  The FEMA guy then replied, "maybe that's my problem. . . I never looked up."
    The clouds parted and the heavens cleared upon this editorial space...a topic was born!  As Dave so aptly identified, the subtle, yet very telling, thesis of the broadcast was not the technology of the movie or its potential gloom and doom message, but rather a single line of dialogue that summed up the entire spirit of the reform effort in science education; a message that has also been proclaimed by the National Science Teachers Association's President and EJSE March's guest editorialist, Joanne Vasquez...offer the opportunity of science to all students.
      How many students, in both our college and public school classrooms, are not challenged to look up, but rather taught to only look down?  With more informal science education events, like the movie Asteroid, being viewed by more students feeling disenfranchised, the opportunity for effective science education can be seized and elaborated upon by all science teachers and their students.
     During a visit to a primary grade classroom the the other day, I noticed the slogan on a child's tee shirt. It read "Whatever it takes!"  I've seen the slogan before, but now it means more.  It means we should all be striving to bring the wonder and excitement of science back to all of our students, no matter what the medium...movies or otherwise...and teach them at least one important lifelong lesson...keep looking up!

***For a reader's commentary to the editorial, click here.

[Special thanks to The Panhandle Pages, North Idaho's Largest Web Site at http://www.digital-cafe.com/~webmaster/webhome.html  for the use of the asteroid graphic] 

      This issue elaborates upon the theme of making sure our students "keep looking up" with articles that examine groups who sometimes are taken for granted within the science education community.  Dr. Rena Norby examines gender equity and its influence on science-related careers. Larry Scharmann, Gail Shroyer, and Cherin Lee inform readers of the importance of teaching preservice teachers various strategies to enhance their professional skills. A student in their study reported:

"at the beginning of the methods course, I was dead certain that nobody in the College of Education had anything new to offer me beyond what I already knew from watching either of my parents [who are both teachers], but when the STS model was introduced in class and I tried it in the actual classroom setting with success, I had more respect for the complexity of what it takes to become an exceptional teacher."

      Bill Cobern examines the relationship between science interest and variations in the Causal Universal within college students' worldviews; a very thought provoking piece, indeed.  

      A new feature within this issue: the Special Section.  This section will be devoted to non-research issues or topics.  Alec Bodzin, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, kicks off this new feature with an overview of engaging science-related WWW sites.

     Finally, we are very proud to have JoAnne Vasquez, President of the National Science Teachers Association, as our guest editorialist.  JoAnne discusses the ever growing need for students to having experiences with advancing technologies.

     Thank you for reviewing the Electronic Journal of Science Education.  We hope you find the featured articles of professional interest.  

John R. Cannon, Editor
Electronic Journal of Science Education
jcannon@unr.edu



Table of Contents and Abstracts


Guest Editorial...   

Checking in on the Electronic Systemic Landscape
by JoAnne Vasquez, President
National Science Teachers Association

To go to this article, click here.


Article 1

Distinguishing Science-Related Variations in the Causal Universal of College Students' Worldviews

by William W. Cobern, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Science Education
Education and Professional Development
Western Michigan University

Abstract

An investigation derived from the logico-structural theory of worldview was conducted for the purpose of examining the relationship between science interest and variations in the Causal universal within college students' worldviews. This required the development of a special pen-and-paper instrument for detecting worldview variations in the Causal universal. The instrument was based on the assumption that when a student is faced with an unfamiliar phenomenon, he or she is more likely to accept an explanation that is more consistent with his or her worldview than an explanation of the phenomenon that is less consistent. The test involved making a choice between explanations that were scientifically-more and scientifically-less compatible. The test along with a measure of science interest was given to a 120 first year college students. The test alone was given to a group of professional scientists. The results suggested that there was considerable worldview  variation among the students and that students who favored scientifically-more compatible explanations showed higher levels of science interest. It was also found, however, that even the students with science interest were less likely to choose a scientifically-more compatible explanation than were the professional scientists. It was concluded that the investigation lends corroboration to the logico-structural theory of worldview and provides a further rationale for pursuit of research in this area.

To go to this article, click here.


Article 2

Preservice Secondary Science Teachers' Orientations Toward Science-Technology-Society (Sts) Instruction

Lawrence C. Scharmann
Department of Secondary Education
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506


M. Gail Shroyer
Center for Science Education
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506

and

Cherin Lee
Department of Biology
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Abstract

The subjects participating in this research project consist of all 104 students enrolled in a secondary science teaching methods course at a large midwestern university between the years 1989-1994. The research conducted evolved over the five years of the study; thus, the effort represents an action research project. In action research, self-reflection and self-evaluation result in insights which guide decision-making with the intent of improving the quality of instructional practice. A priori assumptions are inappropriate; instead, the direction of the research effort is guided by a self-reflective spiral of planning, acting, observing, reflecting, and replanning. Therefore, as this spiral unfolds in the pages to follow, the reader should recognize that what appears to be shifts in methodologies (quantitative to qualitative; reduction to expansion, etc.), actually represent careful reflection and changes enacted to improve the quality of a secondary science teaching methods course for preservice secondary teachers. Thus this manuscript, as an end product, is an ex post facto story of critical decisions in which an instructor improved instructional practice and his students gained confidence in their ability to make use of a powerful teaching strategy.

To go to this article, click here.


Article 3

Evaluating Progress in Gender Equity in Careers for Women in Science and Technology: The Impact of Role Modeling on Women 's Career Choices

by

Rena Faye Norby, Ph.D.
Temporary Instructor
The University of Wyoming
Department of Physics/Astronomy

Abstract

Women are still not equally represented in many careers in technology and science. Young women possess equal abilities in scientific skills in the elementary schools, but their enrollment in science related classes diminishes as they enter high school and college. This creates an accumulated disadvantage which deters success in science and technology classes in college and graduate school. Sex role stereotyping and negative teacher behaviors affect young women's attitudes about potential for success in careers that have been stereotyped as masculine. On the other hand, role modeling has been found to be an important means to encourage young women to choose careers in technology and science. The intention of this study was to identify, by using the WWW, women who are currently employed in technology related careers, or training for employment in technology related careers, and to identify the effects of role models on their career choices and career persistence. A Professional Women's Directory was located using a web search, and women who indicated technology as a part of their profession were identified. The Role Model survey developed by Smith in 1983 was modified for this group, and sent by E-mail to a randomly selected subset of the total list of women in technology. This report summarizes the results of the responses to that survey, and suggests some implications for teacher and scientific professionals planning and instruction.

To go to this article, click here.


Special Section...

Incorporating the World Wide Web in the Science Classroom

by

Alec M. Bodzin
North Carolina State University

Abstract

This essay describes a variety of science resources on the World Wide Web that can be used to enhance the science classroom. The World Wide Web provides students and teachers with access to current scientific data and resources including databases, satellite data, museums, online libraries, research institutions, and other science classrooms all over the world. The World Wide Web is a technology tool that facilitates the learning process. The curricular resources on the World Wide Web have the potential for transforming the science classroom into a more active learning environment that engages students in "doing science" with current scientific data.

To go to this article, click here.


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