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draw a scientist test middle school students perceptions scientists images textbooks

Differences and Similarities in Scientists’ Images Among Popular USA Middle Grades Science Textbooks

Rebecca Hite

Research on students’ perceptions of scientists is ongoing, starting with early research by Mead and Metraux in the 1950s and continuing in the .


Research on students’ perceptions of scientists is ongoing, starting with early research by Mead and Metraux in the 1950s and continuing in the present. Continued research interest in this area is likely due to scholarship suggesting adolescents’ impressions of scientists are sourced in-part from media, which influence their interests in science and identity in becoming a scientist. A significant source of images, in which adolescents (or middle school students) view science and scientists, is in their science textbooks. A qualitative content analysis explored images of scientists in three of the major U.S.-based middle grade science textbooks published in the new millennium: sixth grade biology, seventh grade earth science, and eighth grade physical science. The Draw A Scientist Test (DAST) Checklist was employed to assess scientists’ images and the stereotypes therein. From nine textbooks, 435 images of scientists were coded and analyzed by publisher and grade level / area by DAST constructs of appearance, location, careers, and scientific activities. Statistical analyses showed significant variances between grade levels and textbook publishers of scientists. Despite scientists portrayed in active endeavors, traditional tropes of the scowling, older, solitary, white male scientist persist. This study offers insight in leveraging improved images of scientists in textbooks.

Keywords: Draw-a-scientist-test, middle school, students’ perceptions, scientists’ images, textbooks.

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