Attitudes, Interests, and Perceived Self-efficacy toward Science of Middle School Minority Female Students : : Considerations for their Low Achievement and Participation in STEM Disciplines
- Author(s): Dowey, Ana Lucrecia;
- et al.
The underparticipation of minority females in STEM fields has been a chronic problem in the United States, mainly when it is analyzed through the lens of their relative representation in the population. The results of the first or quantitative phase, of this two phase sequential, mixed method study, revealed academic achievement or performance in science accounted for most of the variance of mean scores for students' attitudes and interests in science as measured by the TOSRA Likert-scale survey, when compared to the degree of parent education and ethnicity/ racial background. Additionally, this study investigated possible sources of perceived self-efficacy in eighteen seventh grade Hispanic female students by conducting personal semi -structured interviews. The purpose of this study was to explore if middle school female student ethnic/racial backgrounds and academic performance influence their attitudes and interests toward science and to study the possible effects external (family, school, peers, and community) and internal factors may have for Hispanic student self-efficacy toward science. The results revealed that of the five ethnic/racial groups studied, Asian/ Filipino female students expressed higher positive attitudes and interests toward science, than the rest of the student ethnic groups studied, followed by the Hispanic student group. The results indicated that students' perceived encouragement from their mothers, regardless of the mother's degree of education, as being the main source of these girls'perceived self-efficacy in science. However, the lack of perceived school-related, peer-related, and community-related support was evident. These results are encouraging because they demonstrate how verbal persuasion, in the form of encouragement and support, fosters perceived self-efficacy for minority female students