The Effects of Project-Based Learning on High School Girl's Attitudes Towards Chemistry
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Schaefer Master's Thesis (1).pdf
Schaefer, Christina M.
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The goal of this study was to examine the effects of project-based learning in chemistry on high school girls’ perceived communal value of chemistry, personal communal values, attitudes and motivations in chemistry, and future college and career plans. The effects on male students and the whole population were also analyzed. The 22 study participants included 13 female and 9 male high school sophomores enrolled in the honors chemistry course at a Midwestern suburban high school. These students engaged in a project-based learning unit on the chemistry of air, adapted from The American Chemical Society’s Chemistry in the Community textbook, over the course of 3 months. In this unit of study, students learned about the chemistry and behavior of gases and the chemistry of the environment, including carbon emissions, global climate change, and ocean acidification. Upon completion of the unit, students designed scientific investigations to address air quality issues of their choice. Participants completed a pre-unit and post-unit survey regarding their perceptions, attitudes, and motivations both before and after their project-based learning experiences. The survey included 17 statements of which participants responded on a 1-5 Likert scale of agreement and 2 open-ended questions regarding attitudes towards chemistry. The results were analyzed using a paired t-test, and the results and data analysis confirmed that there were statistically significant changes in both student personal communal values and college and career plans. The results showed and mean score increase in personal communal values of 1.22. The results also showed that 33% of participants indicated an increase in their desire to pursue chemistry in the future. Therefore, it can be concluded that project-based learning in chemistry can increase personal communal values and desire to pursue chemistry in the future. However, score differences in perceived communal value of chemistry, attitudes, and motivations were not found to be statistically significant.
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