Maintaining Positive Attitudes Toward Science and Technology in First‐Year Female Undergraduates: Peril and Promise

Document Type


SoTL Category

Student Reflections/Perspectives

SoTL Discipline

Science, Math, and Technology

Publication Date



This study investigated attitude changes of 18‐year‐old first‐year college students at a large state‐operated institution in the USA during their initial semester in college. Attitudes of 375 students enrolled in a non‐science first‐year student seminar during the Fall of 2004 were measured, using a new instrument designed to focus on five attitude constructs especially relevant to female engagement with science and technology (S & T). The authors found that students whose seminar included visits with S & T professionals, plus at least four weeks of context‐based S & T content, maintained modestly positive attitudes toward S & T. Students whose seminars included the science content but not the visits from professionals also maintained relatively positive attitudes, except that the females became less accepting of female participation in S & T. Notably, females enrolled in seminars that did not include any of these interventions declined significantly in all five attitudes toward S & T, even though 95% of these students were simultaneously enrolled in required introductory natural science courses. Thus, introducing context‐based science content into the curriculum appears to be helpful in maintaining positive attitudes toward S & T in 18‐year‐old US female college students, while more traditional natural science pedagogy is associated with attitude decline in these students. This result is socially significant because females continue to be under‐represented in several S & T fields at the level of first university degree, in many regions of the world.


This article was published in International Journal of Science Education. Vol. 32, Issue 4. (2010). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09500690902792377