An Investigation of Seventh Grade Students’ Attitudes Towards Animals in a Middle School Science Classroom in Rural Alabama
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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This dissertation examines the different types of attitudes toward animals held by 7th grade students in one middle school in the rural southeastern part United States. This study was conducted using seven-point Likert scale surveys over the course of 5 weeks. Each survey contained twenty items consisting of a wide range of animals across four phyla. These surveys showed that students preferred smaller, local, colorful, vertebrates to other animals. The objective of the study was to determine what types of attitudes students exhibited towards animals presented in the surveys and what influenced these attitudes. The results show that students’ attitudes mostly result from knowledge and exposure to a certain species, with aesthetics and perceived threat of the animals used to inform their attitudes in the absence of content knowledge or exposure to the animals. This project also examined students’ attitudes and knowledge toward bats and questioned if the bat curriculum would influence these attitudes and science content knowledge. The survey toward bats used pre and post testing items and found that educational intervention did improve attitudes (t(48) = -6.9, p <.001) and knowledge X2 (1, N = 49) = 19.2, p < .001 toward bats by a statistically significant amount. Themes discovered that strongly impacted student attitudes toward animals were knowledge, aesthetics, exposure, and taxonomic relation of the animal to other animals.