Date of Award

6-1998

Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

First Advisor

Maryka Biaggio

Abstract

Mass media sources potentially represent the only major source of interaction with scientifically related information that students have outside of a school environment. Consequently, it is necessary for educators to completely understand its ramifications if the goals of the current science reform movement are to be realized. Therefore, the purpose this research was to answer the central question "How do students interact with mass media resources pertaining to scientifically related current events?" This was accomplished through the evaluation of the following sub-questions. (1) What tactics do teachers employ to enhance students' interaction with mass media resources related to scientific current events? (2) How do student or teacher behaviors encourage or promote communication about current scientific events? (3) What is the state of student mass media use habits pertaining to both scientific and nonscientific programming and/or literature?" (4) What kinds of dialogues develop among students and between students and their teacher relative to current events portrayed in mass media sources? This study was conducted in a rural high school in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were predominantly tenth grade students that were enrolled in Introductory Biology. Information was gathered using a variety of methodological approaches, including observations, semi-formal interviews, and written surveys. Several distinct patterns emerged relative to the way that students interact with mass media pertaining to scientifically related current events. Students watched very little educational television, read the newspaper only occasionally, developed weak to no dialogues with others, and had a much lower level of contact with mass media resources pertaining to scientifically related current events than anticipated. As a result, if one evaluates these findings in reference to the ideas being proposed by the current science reform movements, we should be concerned with level of student interaction with mass media pertaining to science based current events.

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