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This article describes a study funded by the Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The study focused on gaining a better understanding of how middle school students perceive television depictions of scientists. This study involved collaboration between a major research university and local middle schools and is a good example of how education and social science research can take place in schools. The findings of this research also have implications for middle school science curricula and the ways in which science teachers engage middle school students in science.
A selection from Science Scope—September 2010
One of my goals for this year is to incorporate more research for the students about what actual scientists are like. My school is purchasing some books about different careers for the students to investigate. This article is about entertainment research that I know that students can get behind and interested. Does anyone have any other suggestions of television programs to watch?
Julianne Cotta (Los Angeles, CA)
This article focuses on gaining a better understanding of how middle school students perceive television depictions of scientists. The only thing that might be surprising in this article is that female students have higher levels of wishful identification with male and female scientists portrayed in television shows.
I felt that the article could have perhaps described how teachers could help students correct some of the misconceptions about scientists in the programming. Also, it is apparent that female students do have interest in science at a young age, but must lose some connection during the ensuing years.
From the point of view of an academic article, the article did an adequate job of summarizing and explaining the research, but from the practitioner's point of view, there was not a lot to inform practice.
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)
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