Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David E. Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

June Hilton

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Thomas Luschei

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gregory Franklin

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Monica Wyman


Education, Inquiry, Instruction, Science

Subject Categories



Research in the past ten years has shown that there has been a lack of professionals to fill the jobs available in science. One possible reason for the lack of participation in science fields lies in students’ beliefs in their ability to do science, or science self-efficacy, which is linked to interest and achievement. Their perceptions of science are influenced by prior achievement and experiences, and serve as predictors of future interest and achievement. Since teachers provide much of early scientific experiences, this research looked at the impact of specific instructional practices as well as background factors influencing student attitudes and achievement.

Prior research supports the use of both inquiry science and direct instruction to increase achievement in science, with inquiry strongly influencing interest. Thus, the overarching question was asked: What are college students’ high school science experiences that contributed to their achievement and/or interest in science?

Using a quantitative design, 258 participants from two different colleges were surveyed regarding their attitudes and prior experiences in high school science classes. Forty-five percent of the participants were science majors. Analysis techniques included correlations, regressions, discriminant function, path analysis, and coding of one open-ended question for a comprehensive depiction of student experiences.

Results indicated that teachers strongly influenced students’ interest in pursuing science. Authentic practices and family support were predictive of science self-efficacy. Participants reported mostly experiencing direct instruction practices. It could be that teachers had not transitioned to Next Generation Science Standards yet, since the standards were fairly new at the time participants attended high school. Choice of a science major could be predicted quite well by their interest and confidence in doing science, as well as having a growth mindset. These findings suggest several implications for practice and for future research.



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