The effect of a zoo-based experiential academic science program on high school students' math and science achievement and perceptions of school climate.

  • Mulkerrin E
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an 11th-grade and 12th-grade zoo-based academic high school experiential science program compared to a same school-district school-based academic high school experiential science program on students' pretest and posttest science, math, and reading achievement, and student perceptions of program relevance, rigor, and relationships. Science coursework delivery site served as the study's independent variable for the two naturally formed groups representing students (n = 18) who completed a zoo-based experiential academic high school science program and students (n = 18) who completed a school-based experiential academic high school science program. Students in the first group, a zoo-based experiential academic high school science program, completed real world, hands-on projects at the zoo while students in the second group, those students who completed a school-based experiential academic high school science program, completed real world, simulated projects in the classroom. These groups comprised the two research arms of the study. Both groups of students were selected from the same school district. The study's two dependent variables were achievement and school climate. Achievement was analyzed using norm-referenced 11th-grade pretest PLAN and 12th-grade posttest ACT test composite scores. Null hypotheses were rejected in the direction of improved test scores for both science program groups—students who completed the zoo-based experiential academic high school science program (p < .001) and students who completed the school-based experiential academic high school science program (p < .001). The posttest-posttest ACT test composite score comparison was not statistically different ( p = .93) indicating program equipoise for students enrolled in both science programs. No overall weighted grade point average score improvement was observed for students in either science group, however, null hypotheses were rejected in the direction of improved science grade point average scores for 11th-grade (p < .01) and 12th-grade (p = .01) students who completed the zoo-based experiential academic high school science program. Null hypotheses were not rejected for between group posttest science grade point average scores and school district criterion reference math and reading test scores. Finally, students who completed the zoo-based experiential academic high school science program had statistically improved pretest-posttest perceptions of program relationship scores (p < .05) and compared to students who completed the school-based experiential academic high school science program had statistically greater posttest perceptions of program relevance (p < .001), perceptions of program rigor (p < .001), and perceptions of program relationships (p < .001). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Educational Programs
  • High School Students
  • High Schools
  • Mathematics Achievement
  • Perception
  • Reading Achievement
  • School Environment
  • Science Achievement
  • Science Education
  • high school students
  • math achievement
  • perceptions
  • school climate
  • science achievement
  • zoo-based experiential academic science program

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Authors

  • Elizabeth A Mulkerrin

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