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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Young Children's Liking and Competence Beliefs in Science Class: Measure Development and Validation

P. Y. Mantzicopoulos, Purdue University
H. Patrick, Purdue University
A. Samarapungavan, Purdue University

Abstract: Motivational beliefs (perceived competence, liking) are associated with achievement and continued interest in science classes and careers. Motivation for science is believed to develop early, however there are currently no measures to assess it in kindergarten. To meet this need we developed the Puppet Interview Scales of Competence in and Liking of Science (PISCES).

PISCES has a dichotomous format, and items refer to familiar science experiences in the classroom. Items are administered using two puppets to facilitate responses to bipolar statements (e.g., "I like science" vs. "I don't like science"), modeled after Measelle (1998).

We piloted PISCES by individually administering the items to 113 children (57% Caucasian, 71% receiving free/reduced-cost lunch) from 6 kindergarten classes. We created three scales: Science Competence (7 items; a = .79), Science Liking (6 items; a = .79), and Ease of Science Learning (4 items; a = .64).

Validity is supported by significant correlations between PISCES and Woodcock-Johnson-III subscales, administered to 65 children at one school. Performance on the WJ-III Science and Applied Problems subtests was associated with Science Liking (rs = .34 & .43, p < .01, respectively) and Science Competence (rs = .34 & .41, p < .01, respectively). The WJ-III Passage Comprehension subtest was associated with Science Competence (r = .27, p < .05).

Children who participated in 10 weeks of the Scientific Literacy Project reported greater (p < .01) Science Competence (Madj = .91) than children who participated in a 5-week unit (Madj = .71); means adjusted for differences in pre-reading skills. Similar differences in Science Liking were nearly significant (p = .07).