Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127.
A growing body of research explores the ways that science learning experiences can develop people’s interest in science. In this article, the researchers provide a framework for conceptualizing interest in four phases: triggered situational interest; maintained situational interest; emerging individual interest; and well-developed individual interest. They claim that interest is often conceptualized as a characteristic that a person either has or doesn’t have and that educators could benefit from thinking more about how to stimulate interest. This paper has a review of the literature on interest, as well as an examination of alternative models of interest.
Zeyer, A., & Wolf, S. (2010). Is there a relationship between brain type, sex and motivation to learn science? International Journal of Science Education, 32(16), 2217–2233.
This study is based upon a body of work that characterizes individuals as primarily empathizers, systemizers, or an equal balance of both. Systemizing describes the ability to understand the world in terms of a system, whereas empathizing is the ability to identify and perceive the mental states of others. In this study, the authors examined whether gender played a role in determining motivation for science learning or whether personality attributes (also known as “brain type”) – that is, whether more a systemizer or an empathizer – were more significant.
Hampden-Thompson, G., & Bennett, J. (2013). Science teaching and learning activities and students’ engagement in science. International Journal of Science Education, 35(8), 1325–1343. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2011.608093
This study uses data from the 2006 PISA survey to examine the association between student engagement in science and the nature of teaching and learning activities. It also explores school and family factors. Key findings are to be expected but also surprising. For example, variety in types of activity is associated with greater engagement. However, smaller classes do not necessarily result in greater enjoyment of science!
Maltese, A V., & Tai, R H. (2010). Eyeballs in the fridge: Sources of early interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 32(5), 669–685.
Out of 85 scientists and graduate students interviewed, 65% state that their initial interest in science occurred before middle school, particularly for those in physics-related fields. The interest was attributed as self-interest (45%) or intrinsic motivation. However, a large proportion discuss initial experiences related to school- or education-based experiences, including enrichment activities (40%) and family (15%).
Palmer, David H. (2010). Student interest generated during an inquiry skills lesson. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(2), 147–165.
A 40-minute inquiry lesson comprising demonstration, proposal, experiment, and report to 224 ninth-grade students organized by the author provided evidence that situational interest can be developed through such activities compared to copying notes from the text and during the lecture. Situational interest, generated by the aspects of a specific situation (e.g., a spectacular demonstration may arouse students’ interest temporarily, even if they are not normally interested in science), is a short-time interest. Although it is a transient occurrence, the author’s previous findings suggest that situational interest, if experienced repeatedly, can have powerful/wide-ranging effects on student motivation. The author identifies sources of situational interest as, for example, learning, choice, novelty, physical activity, social involvement, etc., the strategies that may be especially relevant and accessible in informal learning environments.
Ainley, M. & Ainley, J. (2011). A cultural perspective on the structure of student interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 33(1), 51–71.
Based on the data from the international student assessment study PISA, this research examines student interest in science as pointed out by measures of knowledge, affect, and value, and compares findings between four countries with contrasting cultural values. The authors argue that whilst levels of knowledge, value, and affect need to be understood in relation to the students’ cultural context, in general, an individual’s motivation for future participation in science, whatever their nationality, seems to be indicated by their current levels of enjoyment of science.
Westbroek, H. B., Klaassen, K., Bulte, A. & Pilot, A. (2010). Providing students with a sense of purpose by adapting a professional practice. International Journal of Science Education, 31(5), 603–627.
This study explores an important question for all educators: how can we help students find meaning and application in what they are learning? The authors argue that students have to foresee how each activity is going to contribute to a specific context-based purpose that they themselves are motivated to reach.
Falk, J. H., & Storksdieck, M. (2010). Science learning in a leisure setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(2), 194–212.
ISE educators may operate with the assumption that visitors come to the museum for learning, but this research shows that, two years after the visit, what these adult visitors remember is linked to their identity-related motivations for their visit. Based on five broad categories (explorers, facilitators, professional/hobbyists, experience seekers, and rechargers; see Falk 2006), this research shows that what museum visitors learn, remember about their experience, and its subsequent impact are influenced by how the museum meets the needs of these learners.
Anderman, E. M., Sinatra, G. M., & Gray, D. L. (2012). The challenges of teaching and learning about science in the twenty-first century: Exploring the abilities and constraints of adolescent learners. Studies in Science Education, 48(1), 89–117.
In this paper, Anderman and colleagues examine the skills adolescents need in order to learn science effectively. They note that many negative experiences associated with science learning could be avoided if educators were more aware of the abilities of adolescents and the types of environments that foster particular abilities. They offer seven recommendations to practitioners.
Wai, J., Lubinski, D., Benbow, C.P. & Steiger, J.H. (2010). Accomplishment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose: A 25-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 860–871.
This research reports on the results of two studies which found that mathematically talented students who had had greater exposure to accelerated, enriched, and individualized STEM learning opportunities achieved more significant STEM accomplishments later in life than their matched counterparts. Notable accomplishments were designated as achieving STEM careers, STEM PhDs, STEM tenure, STEM publications, and STEM patents. The researchers found this relationship to hold true even when controlling for high levels of motivation. Furthermore, the research found that experiences that were more individualized (such as participating in STEM contests or working on inventions, as opposed to attending Advanced Placement (AP) courses) had a greater correlation with notable STEM accomplishments. An important implication from these findings for ISE educators is the need to ensure that students have access to a wide spectrum of enriching and accelerated learning opportunities, and, in particular, that opportunities include those that are individualized.