Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor

Bruce Homer

Committee Members

Jay Verkuilen

Joan Lucariello

Peggy Chen

Megan Silander

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Educational Psychology | Science and Mathematics Education

Keywords

preschool, science, early childhood education, science assessment, attitudes towards science

Abstract

Presently, no measure or theoretical framework exists for preschool parents’ attitudes towards science. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a measure of preschool parents’ attitudes towards science with a corresponding theoretical framework, as well as explore related constructs. To develop the measure, I adapted Wendt and Rockinson-Szapkiw’s (2017) English translation of van Aalderen-Smeets & Walma van der Molen’s (2013) Dimensions of Science (DAS) scale by making it appropriate for use with preschool parents.

The Preschool Parents Dimensions of Science Scale (PP-DAS) was pilot tested and revised before being administered to 330 preschool parents in the United States. Results indicate that the measure has solid psychometric properties and supports the application of van Aalderen-Smeets et al.’s (2012) theoretical framework to preschool parents. Further analyses support the relationship between preschool parents’ attitudes towards science with additional related constructs, including parents’ views of science and past science experiences, as well as demographic factors, such as race and income.

Lastly, results also indicate there are four classes of preschool parents, based on their attitudes towards science: High Potential, Promising, Indifferent, and Reluctant. Overall, this study has the potential to address an existing gap in the field by proposing a theoretical framework and a psychometrically evaluated measure of parental attitudes towards science that can be employed by researchers in subsequent studies.

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