Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Gregory Firn

Abstract

The National Assessment on Educational Progress signals that American students are not being adequately prepared to compete globally in an ever changing scientific society. As a result, legislation mandated that all students be assessed and show proficiency in scientific literacy beginning in Grade 4 with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002 also known as No Child Left Behind. Research indicates a disturbing decline in the number of U.S. students pursuing more rigorous science courses in high school, majoring in scientific areas in college, and choosing future careers in science. With a need to improve science instruction and enhance science literacy for all students, this study focuses on immediate communication behaviors of the classroom teacher as a deciding factor in the opinions of high school students towards science. The purpose of this study was to reveal high school science student perceptions of teacher communication patterns, both verbal and nonverbal, and how they influence their motivation to learn science.

The researcher utilized a nonexperimental, quantitative research design to guide this study. Teacher and student data were collected using the Teacher Communication Behavior Questionnaire (TCBQ). The Student Motivation to Learn Instrument (SMLI) across gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status survey was used to evaluate student motivation in science. Participants were encouraged to be honest in reporting and sharing information concerning teacher communication behaviors.

The data revealed that teacher immediacy behaviors, both verbal and nonverbal, were perceived differently in terms of student gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. The results showed that teachers who display positive communication behaviors and use challenging questioning followed with positive responses create pathways to potentially powerful relationships. These relationships between teachers and students can lead to increased student motivation and academic achievement in the science classroom.

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