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Secondary Students' Beliefs About Their Interests In Nanoscale Science And Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Assessment of K-12 Engineering Programs and Issues

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1258.1 - 12.1258.15



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Paper Authors

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Kelly Hutchinson Purdue University

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Shawn Stevens University of Michigan

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Namsoo Shin Hong University of Michigan

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Molly Yunker University of Michigan

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Cesar Delgado University of Michigan

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George Bodner Purdue University

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William Fornes Purdue University

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Nick Giordano Purdue University

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Joseph Krajcik University of Michigan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Secondary Students’ Beliefs about their Interests in Nanoscale Science and Engineering Abstract

Research has shown that increasing students’ interests in science has a positive effect on their science achievement;1,2 however, there is little research as to what topics increase students’ interests.1 Nanoscale science and engineering is one topic currently being investigated as a way to increase students’ interests due to its integrated nature and increasing popularity in society. This paper will examine the qualitative data gained from 58 in-depth student interviews of a diverse population. The phenomenographical analysis of interviews identified six characteristics of topics that students report as influencing their interests: relationship of activities or questions to students’ personal interests, the relationship of activities or questions to everyday life, prior knowledge, prior experience, the use hands-on or experimentation, and the use of chemicals. Of the six characteristics identified, students’ personal interests, the relationship between topics and students’ everyday lives, and hands-on activities and experimentation were found to increase interests. The remaining three components – use of chemicals, prior knowledge, and prior experience – showed both positive and negative impacts on students’ interests. These results contribute to the efforts of educators working on K-12 curriculum development, creating experiences for students that increase student learning and understanding of nanoscale science and engineering, as well as science and engineering in general.


The National Center for Learning and Teaching in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NCLT)3 is devoted to developing students’ understanding of nanoscale science and engineering concepts. This is important based on 1) the illustrative example provided by the interdisciplinary nature of work in the area, 2) the fundamental understanding of the world provided by knowledge of such concepts, and 3) the impact of nanoscale science and engineering on the general public. One initiative of the NCLT is to do research on the introduction of real-world examples of nano- concepts into secondary (7-12) school science classrooms to support student learning of nanoscale science and engineering.

Previous research has shown that student achievement in science and science-related fields increases when they are taught using relevant, real-world examples. It is not currently known however, which real-world examples might increase students’ interests in nanoscale science and engineering.1 Student motivation, interest, and engagement are important aspects for student learning in science education. Positive student attitudes toward science have been correlated to higher performance on science assessments for the majority of students.2 Eccles and Wigfield have shown that “interest is more strongly related to indicators of deep-level learning than to surface-level learning” which may explain why students with low interest levels in science perform poorly on exams.4 As students progress through school, their interest in science appears to decline.2 A parallel trend has been observed with students’ performance on science standardized exams as they progress through school.5,6 This suggests that the lower performance of older students on these exams is due at least partially to a lack of interest in science.

Hutchinson, K., & Stevens, S., & Shin Hong, N., & Yunker, M., & Delgado, C., & Bodner, G., & Fornes, W., & Giordano, N., & Krajcik, J. (2007, June), Secondary Students' Beliefs About Their Interests In Nanoscale Science And Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2727

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