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Scientific epistemological beliefs, perceptions of constructivist learning environment and attitude towards science as determinants of students approaches to learning

Özkal, Kudret
The purpose of this study was to investigate scientific epistemological beliefs, perceptions of constructivist learning environment, attitude towards science, prior knowledge and gender as determinants of students’ approaches to learning. This study was carried out in 2005-2006 Spring Semester. One thousand, one hundred and fifty two eighth grade students from seven public schools in Çankaya, a district of Ankara participated in this study. Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire, Constructivist Learning Environment Scale, Learning Approaches Questionnaire and Attitude towards Science Scale were administered to students in order to determine their scientific epistemological beliefs, their perceptions of constructivist learning environments, approaches to learning and attitudes towards science respectively. Descriptive statistics were used in order to explore the general characteristics of the sample. Paired samples t-test was used in order to evaluate the mean difference iv between the scales of the actual and preferred learning environments. Pearson Correlation Analyses and Multiple Regression Analyses were conducted to see the relationships among the variables and the variables that contribute to students’ meaningful and rote learning approaches. Results of the paired samples t-test showed that the actual learning environments of the students did not adapt their preferences. In fact, students preferred more constructivist learning environments where they have more opportunity to relate science with the real world, communicate in the classroom, take role in the decision making process of what will go on in the lesson to be more beneficial for them, question what is going on in the lesson freely and experience the formulation of scientific knowledge. Pearson correlation analyses, however, showed that students who had meaningful learning orientations had tentative views of scientific epistemological beliefs, positive attitudes towards science, high prior knowledge and perceived their learning environments as constructivist. On the other hand, students who had rote learning approaches had fixed views of scientific epistemological beliefs, positive attitudes towards science and low prior knowledge. In addition, the rote learners perceived their environments as constructivist in all scales except shared control scale. Multiple Regression Analyses by using actual learning environment showed that attitude towards science is the best predictor of both meaningful and rote learning approaches.