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An investigation of the subject preferences of intermediate students Court, Deborah Jean 1984

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AN INVESTIGATION OF THE SUBJECT PREFERENCES OF INTERMEDIATE STUDENTS  DEBORAH JEAN COURT B.A. The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h , Columbia, 1974  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (EDUCATION)  WE ACCEPT THIS THESIS AS CONFORMING TO THE REQUIRED STANDARD  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MARCH 198 4 © Deborah Jean Court, 1984  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I  further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may  be  department o r by h i s o r her  granted by  the head o f  representatives.  my  It i s  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l not be  allowed w i t h o u t my  permission.  EWCPTTlCih/  Department o f  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3  Date  DE-6  (3/81)  A?(?\L  3  l°ik4  Columbia  written  i Abstract  A q u e s t i o n n a i r e measuring the subject preferences of 296 grade f i v e to seven students showed p h y s i c a l education to be the most popular subject and language a r t s the l e a s t . A second  q u e s t i o n n a i r e i n v e s t i g a t e d reasons f o r students*  d i s l i k e of language a r t s . Pearson  product moment c o r r e l a t i o n s and an a n a l y s i s of  variance were used to i n v e s t i g a t e f a c t o r s which might be a s s o c i a t e d with subject p r e f e r e n c e s .  General  ability,  achievement and the teacher d i d not appear to be major factors.  Grade l e v e l was s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to  preference f o r reading, mathematics and language,  with  f i f t h grade students expressing the g r e a t e s t preference f o r a l l of these.  Sex was s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to preference  f o r reading, language and music, with g i r l s expressing g r e a t e r preferences than boys f o r these three s u b j e c t s . Results from t h i s study agreed with previous research i n f i n d i n g l i t t l e or no r e l a t i o n s h i p between preference and achievement, a d e c l i n e with i n c r e a s i n g grade i n a t t i t u d e s to school s u b j e c t s , and a g r e a t e r preference among g i r l s than among boys f o r reading, language and music.  ii  Table of Contents page Abstract  i  L i s t of Tables  iv  L i s t of Figures  v  Chapter I  Introduction  1  Chapter II  Review of Related L i t e r a t u r e  4  Studies of Subject Preference  4  A t t i t u d e and  Achievement  7  Influence of the Teacher  14  Sex  Differences  19  The  D e c l i n e i n A t t i t u d e s to School  21  Other Factors Related to A t t i t u d e s to School  23  Summary  25  Chapter I I I  Method  28  Subjects  28  Instruments  28  Design Chapter IV  and  Procedure Results  31 34  Data A n a l y s i s  34  Further F i n d i n g s  46  iii page Chapter V Subject  Discussion Area Preference  52 Test  D i s c u s s i o n o f Results of the How  52 I Feel  about Language A r t s Questionnaire Chapter VI  Summary  54 59  Bibliography  61  Appendices  67  iv L i s t of Tables  page Table 1 Table 2  Grade Placement of Boys and i n The Sample  Girls 30  T e s t - R e t e s t and S p l i t H a l f R e l i a b i l i t i e s of  The Subject Area Preference Test  30  Table 3  Order of Subject Preferences O v e r a l l  ....  35  Table 4  Order of Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : Boys ......  35  Table 5  Order of Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : G i r l s  36  Table 6  Order Grade Order Grade  Table 7 Table 8 Table 9  of Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : Five of Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : Six  Order of Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : Grade Seven  36 37 37  Subject Preferences Grouped According to S i g n i f i c a n t D i f f e r e n c e s i n the Means ....  38  Table 10  Pearson Product Moment C o r r e l a t i o n s  39  Table 11  Responses to the How I F e e l About Language A r t s Questionnaire  49  L i s t of  V  Figures  Figure 1  Frequency D i s t r i b u t i o n s  Figure 2  Subject Preference  Means  page 40 47  1 Chapter I Introduction  The  purpose o f t h i s study was to d i s c o v e r the  preferences  o f intermediate  students  for eight subjects i n  the school c u r r i c u l u m , and to i d e n t i f y p o s s i b l e f a c t o r s a s s o c i a t e d with these p r e f e r e n c e s . preferences  of students  a t t e n t i o n was focused  When the s u b j e c t  i n the sample had been determined,  on the l e a s t popular  s u b j e c t , and an  attempt was made to determine p o s s i b l e reasons f o r the apparent d i s l i k e o f t h i s s u b j e c t . A review o f the l i t e r a t u r e on student  attitudes to  school i n d i c a t e d that r e l a t i v e l y few s t u d i e s have i n v e s t i g a t e d students' preferences  subject preferences.  Students'  f o r and a t t i t u d e s toward the s u b j e c t s i n the  c u r r i c u l u m merit research f o r s e v e r a l reasons.  One reason  i s the p o s s i b i l i t y that there i s a r e l a t i o n s h i p between a t t i t u d e and achievement. Research has y i e l d e d c o n f l i c t i n g r e s u l t s on whether achievement i n school and a t t i t u d e s toward school are r e l a t e d . preference  subjects  I f a p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e toward, o r strong  f o r a school s u b j e c t i s indeed  related to  achievement i n that s u b j e c t , then knowledge about subject p r e f e r e n c e s  students'  and f a c t o r s r e l a t e d to them could  help  lead to improved c u r r i c u l a and i n s t r u c t i o n a l methods t h a t  2 could i n turn improve achievement. found  Those s t u d i e s that have  a connection between a t t i t u d e and achievement have  not i n d i c a t e d any c a u s a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , but i t does not seem unreasonable  to s p e c u l a t e t h a t working to improve students'  a t t i t u d e s to c e r t a i n s u b j e c t s might r e s u l t i n improved achievement as w e l l . I f , on the other hand, there i s no  relationship  between a t t i t u d e and achievement, there i s s t i l l reason to s t r i v e toward understanding a t t i t u d e s and  preferences.  of students'  Most educators would agree t h a t  school should be a p o s i t i v e and c h i l d r e n , and  good  happy experience f o r  any knowledge that can help educators  foster  more p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s should be considered a worthwhile c o n t r i b u t i o n toward that g o a l . Much of the r e s e a r c h on student a t t i t u d e s to school has  focused on g e n e r a l a t t i t u d e s , examining such v a r i a b l e s  as i n t e l l i g e n c e , socioeconomic i n f l u e n c e of the teacher.  s t a t u s , s e l f concept  and  the  As w i l l be shown i n Chapter I I ,  the major area of research has been the i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between a t t i t u d e and study of students' expressed  achievement.  The  preferences f o r s p e c i f i c  school s u b j e c t s c o n s t i t u t e s one  area of student  research t h a t i s r e l a t i v e l y unexplored.  Few  been made to determine v a r i a b l e s a f f e c t i n g  attitude  attempts have  students'  s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s and a t t i t u d e s to s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t s .  3 This  scarcity  this  area  attitudes  o f r e s e a r c h , and t h e need  to permit  educators  i n students,  form  f o r knowledge i n  t o f o s t e r more  positive  the j u s t i f i c a t i o n  for this  study. T h e r e have been no r e p o r t s i n t h e l i t e r a t u r e an  examination  h a s b e e n made o f p r e f e r e n c e s  range o f s u b j e c t s grade  level,  Researchers many  toward  i n the curriculum i n r e l a t i o n  achievement, a b i l i t y have c o n s i d e r e d  subjects.  some o f t h e s e  designed students' This following 1.  to provide  study  full  to sex,  variables with  was  picture of  and f a c t o r s to provide  t o o n l y a few  specifically  a more c o m p r e h e n s i v e  was d e s i g n e d  related  answers  t o them.  to the  questions: What a r e t h e p r e f e r e n c e s eight subjects  What r e l a t i o n s h i p s preference  students  i n the school  curriculum?  exist  subject  ability  between  attitudes  toward  level,  and t h e t e a c h e r ?  What v a r i a b l e s a p p e a r of  of intermediate  and t h e v a r i a b l e s o f s e x , grade  achievement, 3.  study  subject preferences  for 2.  The p r e s e n t  the  and t h e t e a c h e r .  s u b j e c t s , o r a l l o f them b u t i n r e l a t i o n  school  i n which  t o be i m p o r t a n t c o r r e l a t e s  the least  preferred  subject?  4 Chapter II Review of Related  Literature  C o n s i s t e n t with the major emphasis of the study, review w i l l  focus on student's s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s .  r e l a t i o n s h i p to preferences of such f a c t o r s as (IQ), socioeconomic concept,  this The  intelligence  s t a t u s , method of i n s t r u c t i o n ,  the t e a c h e r , sex, grade l e v e l , a b i l i t y  self  and  achievement w i l l a l s o be examined. Studies which examine g e n e r a l a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l , while appearing  o n l y p e r i p h e r a l l y r e l a t e d , have been  included because they may subject preferences. socioeconomic  be r e l e v a n t to the study of  Knowledge of the e f f e c t s of  s t a t u s or method of i n s t r u c t i o n on  a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l i n g e n e r a l , may understanding  IQ, students'  h e l p c o n t r i b u t e to  of the more s p e c i f i c area of s u b j e c t  preference.  S t u d i e s of Subject Recently Cox  and Wilson  Preference  (1978) reported on an i n f o r m a l  survey of student a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l . supervised by two  t e a c h e r s , was  intermediate students and  i n a New  t h e i r teachers p o l l e d  to how  350  This survey, though  initiated  and designed  York s c h o o l .  The  by  children  f i v e to eleven year o l d s as  they would run the school i f they had  the power to  5 do so.  One  preference.  of t h e i r f i n d i n g s was  r e l a t e d to  Students f e l t that reading,  subject  writing  a r i t h m e t i c were the most important s u b j e c t s .  and  They a l s o  expressed a d e s i r e f o r a c t i v i t y o r i e n t e d lessons field  t r i p s , and  they favored  a m u l t i d i s c i p l i n a r y approach  r a t h e r than the compartmentalization of Beck (1977) looked one  subjects.  at the preferences  to e i g h t c h i l d r e n f o r v a r i o u s s u b j e c t s  curriculum.  He  the best l i k e d  found that across s u b j e c t and  of 13,500 grade i n the  a r i t h m e t i c was  favored.  s t u d i e s which  G i r l s i n t h i s study  boys were more p o s i t i v e than g i r l s to s c i e n c e . r e s u l t s are c o n s i s t e n t with most other  social  was  l i k e d the l e a s t .  were more p o s i t i v e than boys to language a r t s and  s i g n i f i c a n t sex d i f f e r e n c e was  school  the grades s c i e n c e  These r e s u l t s c o n f l i c t with s e v e r a l other have found a r i t h m e t i c to be  such as  reading;  These  studies.  No  found f o r mathematics or  studies.  Haladyna and  Thomas (1979) found that 3,000 grade  one  to e i g h t p u p i l s , both boys and  g i r l s , l i k e d a r t the most  and  T h i s study showed s o c i a l  s o c i a l s t u d i e s the l e a s t .  s t u d i e s to be held  i n very low regard.  l i k e d about the same by g i r l s and reading, music and  boys.  Arithmetic Girls  was  liked  language more than boys, while boys  l i k e d science and  p h y s i c a l education  more than g i r l s .  These preferences  were f a i r l y s t a b l e throughout the grades.  6 The o n l y s u b j e c t to show a c o n s i d e r a b l e d e c l i n e from grade one  to e i g h t was  music.  A l l grades r a t e d reading  mathematics i n the middle  and  of the s c a l e , with a r t and  p h y s i c a l education above them. F r a s e r (1980) explored the a t t i t u d e s toward E n g l i s h , mathematics, s o c i a l  s t u d i e s and  ten  students.  and  sex d i f f e r e n c e s i n r e l a t i o n  found  a r t of 1,800  grade seven to  F r a s e r looked s p e c i f i c a l l y f o r grade  that s i g n i f i c a n t  to these s u b j e c t s .  level He  d e c l i n e s i n a t t i t u d e to each s u b j e c t  occurred with grade l e v e l .  G i r l s expressed  significantly  more f a v o r a b l e a t t i t u d e s than boys to E n g l i s h , s o c i a l s t u d i e s and a r t , and boys expressed  s i g n i f i c a n t l y more  f a v o r a b l e a t t i t u d e s than g i r l s to mathematics.  These  d i f f e r e n c e s were f o r the t o t a l group, not f o r each grade level.  The o v e r a l l  order of preference expressed  students i n t h i s study was social  English f i r s t ,  by  the  then mathematics,  s t u d i e s and a r t .  The  2,500 grade four to s i x students i n Faust's  study  (1963) showed t h e i r preference f o r the four s u b j e c t s measured i n t h i s order: spelling,  reading and  Inskeep and  a r i t h m e t i c was  first,  followed by  language.  Monroe (1965) used the f u l l range of  school s u b j e c t s i n t h e i r study of the subject p r e f e r e n c e s of  intermediate students.  They found  the order of  students' p r e f e r e n c e s to be a r i t h m e t i c f i r s t ,  followed  by  7 art,  h e a l t h and p h y s i c a l e d u c a t i o n , r e a d i n g ,  spelling,  science, music, s o c i a l studies,  h a n d w r i t i n g and  language.  These f i n d i n g s agree w i t h Faust  i n that a r i t h m e t i c was  found to be the most popular s u b j e c t and language the least.  A t t i t u d e and Achievement The study o f a p o s s i b l e  r e l a t i o n s h i p between  attitude  and achievement has been pursued i n two d i f f e r e n t Some s t u d i e s have looked at  students'  attitudes  ways.  toward  s c h o o l i n g e n e r a l and compared these w i t h achievement i n several  different  one s u b j e c t ,  Other s t u d i e s have focused on  such as a r i t h m e t i c , r e a d i n g or s c i e n c e ,  examined a t t i t u d e subject.  subjects.  and  and achievement i n r e l a t i o n to t h a t one  The q u e s t i o n important to the present  discussion  i s whether or not there i s a r e l a t i o n s h i p between p r e f e r e n c e f o r a s c h o o l s u b j e c t and achievement i n that subj e c t . While Abram's study  (1982) of f o u r t h graders d i d not  d i r e c t l y address the t o p i c o f s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e , attempt  to f i n d whether h i g h a c h i e v e r s ,  marks at the end of grade t h r e e , other students  i n grade f o u r .  a c h i e v e r s d i d appear  those w i t h h i g h  l i k e d school b e t t e r  She found that  than  high  to l i k e s c h o o l a b i t b e t t e r ,  d i f f e r e n c e was not s i g n i f i c a n t .  she d i d  but  The study found no  this  8 s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between achievement and dependent v a r i a b l e s : anxiety.  liking  f o r s c h o o l , p o p u l a r i t y and  S i g n i f i c a n t a s s o c i a t i o n was  and math scores and personal happiness separate from l i k i n g  three  found between reading and  satisfaction,  for school.  Beck (1977) reported r e s u l t s from the Survey of School A t t i t u d e s o f 13,500 grade one states.  to e i g h t students i n ten  No s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p was  scores on achievement t e s t s and  U.S.  found between  school a t t i t u d e measures.  • In an e x t e n s i v e study of student a t t i t u d e s toward school Tenenbaum (1941) found no s i g n i f i c a n t  correlation  between a t t i t u d e to school and grade l e v e l marks or IQ.  In  another r e p o r t on the same study Tenenbaum (1944) d e s c r i b e s some of the other v a r i a b l e s i n v e s t i g a t e d , such as absence and conduct.  Absence, l i k e achievement and  s i g n i f i c a n t l y related However conduct  to a t t i t u d e , nor was  IQ, was conduct.  c o r r e l a t e d most h i g h l y with a t t i t u d e  absence c o r r e l a t e d  the l e a s t .  not  and  Those c h i l d r e n whom teachers  considered to be behavior problems expressed more unfavorable a t t i t u d e s than others to s c h o o l , teachers and classmates. Malpass (1953) t e s t e d grade e i g h t students to determine  t h e i r a t t i t u d e s to s e v e r a l aspects of s c h o o l :  school i n g e n e r a l , classmates, t e a c h e r s , schoolwork and discipline.  They were a l s o t e s t e d f o r i n t e l l i g e n c e  9 and  given  standarized  studies, science  and  achievement t e s t s f o r reading, arithmetic.  Malpass found a  r e l a t i o n s h i p between a t t i t u d e to school  and  achievement,  not as measured by standard achievement t e s t s — t h e s e did  not  r e l a t e to a t t i t u d e s c o r e s — b u t  marks r e c e i v e d  f o r classroom work.  to r e l a t e to a t t i t u d e s c o r e s . school  and  i n terms of  scores  actual  These marks were found  Negative f e e l i n g s about  poor classroom grades were r e l a t e d .  makes the p o i n t  social  Malpass  that while i t cannot be s a i d which came  f i r s t , a v i c i o u s c i r c l e of negative a t t i t u d e s and grades, seemingly s t i m u l a t i n g  each o t h e r ,  could  poor  be  seen.  In the book L i f e i n Classrooms (Jackson, 1968), a l l s t u d i e s done on a t t i t u d e and reviewed.  achievement to that date were  Jackson noted that no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p s  had  been r e p o r t e d .  Neal, G i l l  was  because Jackson c i t e d only  o v e r a l l a t t i t u d e to s c h o o l , not  and  and  to s p e c i f i c  subjects.  achievement i n  s o c i a l s t u d i e s and  a l s o looked at g i r l s and  science  boys s e p a r a t e l y .  attempted to determine whether a t t i t u d e could p r e d i c t achievement.  separately, They a l s o  be  used  T h e i r f i n d i n g s were as f o l l o w s :  boys, a s i g n i f i c a n t c o r r e l a t i o n between a t t i t u d e achievement was  this  s t u d i e s which measured  T h e i r study looked at a t t i t u d e and arithmetic, reading,  Tismer (1'970) f e l t  to for  and  found f o r s o c i a l s t u d i e s , a r i t h m e t i c  and  10 r e a d i n g , and  for g i r l s only for reading.  In terms of  p r e d i c t i o n , a t t i t u d e at the beginning of the year and achievement at the end of the year were s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d o n l y f o r a r i t h m e t i c f o r boys. Roettger's  (1975) study focused only on r e a d i n g , and  showed a low c o r r e l a t i o n between a t t i t u d e to reading and achievement f o r 697 grade three to s i x students. concluded  Roettger  that while there does seem to be some  r e l a t i o n s h i p , i t i s a weak one,  and  cannot be used  to make  predictions. In another  study Roettger  achievement i n reading and  (1980) measured a t t i t u d e  selected  f o r f u r t h e r study  students whose a t t i t u d e scores c o n f l i c t e d with achievement s c o r e s .  T h i r t y - s i x had  75  their  low a t t i t u d e and  performance; 39 had high a t t i t u d e and  and  high  low performance.  D i s c u s s i o n s with these students led the author to conclude that the f i r s t group saw f u t u r e success, and group saw  reading as a t o o l f o r s u r v i v a l  i t made them f e e l smarter.  The  and  second  reading as a means of g a i n i n g s p e c i f i c  i n f o r m a t i o n f o r good school performance. In Knaupp's (1973) review of s t u d i e s on a t t i t u d e  and  achievement i n a r i t h m e t i c , almost a l l of the s t u d i e s found no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between a t t i t u d e achievement i n mathematics.  and  Most s t u d i e s seemed to  i n d i c a t e that students value mathematics, that i s , they  11 feel  i t i s an important  s u b j e c t , but they do  not  n e c e s s a r i l y l i k e i t . E a r l i e r Neale (1969) s t a t e d that we  can produce students who  mathematics, and  similarly  achieve w e l l i n  t h i n k h i g h l y of i t s v a l u e , yet d i s l i k e i t  and p r e f e r not to do i t . Knaupp's review a l s o i n d i c a t e d that achievement cannot be used as a p r e d i c t o r of a t t i t u d e s i n mathematics, and the instruments  vice versa.  Knaupp h i m s e l f f e l t  used to measure a t t i t u d e s to mathematics  have not been s e n s i t i v e enough and validity.  that  He suggested  b e t t e r instruments  are of q u e s t i o n a b l e  that there i s a major need f o r  that might help uncover f a c t o r s which  i n f l u e n c e students' a t t i t u d e s and o p i n i o n s . Michaels and  Forsyth (1978) o f f e r e d some advice  on  e x a c t l y what should be measured i n a study of a t t i t u d e s to mathematics.  They s t a t e d that instruments  should measure a  student's enjoyment of mathematics, s e c u r i t y and with i t , and  a p p r e c i a t i o n of i t s value and  They cautioned  confidence  usefulness.  t h a t r e s e a r c h e r s should be sure they are  measuring a t t i t u d e s to mathematics, and  not other v a r i a b l e s  such as achievement or a t t i t u d e to teacher. Shaughnessy, Haladyna and  Shaughnessy (198 3) used a  r e g r e s s i o n a n a l y s i s to i l l u s t r a t e which of s e v e r a l v a r i a b l e s c o n t r i b u t e d to the a t t i t u d e s toward mathematics of grade f o u r , seven and nine students. r e l a t i o n s h i p i n a l l three grades was  The  strongest  with the q u a l i t y  the  authors c a l l e d  "fatalism".  They d e s c r i b e t h i s as the  b e l i e f that "math i s something that happens not  a r e s u l t of your work and e f f o r t . "  to you, and i s  I t could a l s o be  d e s c r i b e d as students' p e r c e p t i o n of t h e i r a b i l i t y i n mathematics.  While achievement was not a v a r i a b l e i n t h i s  study, the study does have i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r the attitude-achievement q u e s t i o n . the  Malpass (1953) d e s c r i b e d  p o s s i b l e e f f e c t of t h i s f a t a l i s t i c a t t i t u d e as "a  vicious c i r c l e  of negative a t t i t u d e s and poor grades".  In another review o f a t t i t u d e s toward  mathematics  Aiken (1976) reported that 1) when a t t i t u d e scores are used as p r e d i c t o r s o f achievement, a low but s i g n i f i c a n t p o s i t i v e c o r r e l a t i o n i s u s u a l l y found; 2) a t t i t u d e i s second to a b i l i t y as a p r e d i c t o r o f achievement; 3) i n l a t e elementary and j u n i o r high school the marks a student g e t s help to form h i s a t t i t u d e s , r a t h e r than v i c e v e r s a ; 4) the attitude-achievement p r e d i c t o r i s stronger f o r g i r l s than for  boys; and 5) boys show somewhat b e t t e r achievement, and  l e s s a n x i e t y to mathematics, than g i r l s . Schofield  (1982) measured  achievement i n mathematics six  a t t i t u d e s toward and  f o r n e a r l y 2,000 grade three to  students at the beginning and end of the school year.  S c h o f i e l d administered two kinds of achievement t e s t s ,  one  t e s t i n g mathematics concepts and one t e s t i n g computation. Results from t h i s study i n d i c a t e d that the a t t i t u d e -  13 achievement r e l a t i o n s h i p was s i g n i f i c a n t l y s t r o n g e r 1) boys than i n g i r l s ;  2) i n computation  in  compared with  concepts; and 3) l a t e i n the school year r a t h e r than  early.  The r e l a t i o n s h i p between a t t i t u d e and achievement a l s o appeared  to i n c r e a s e with s u c c e s s i v e grades.  Some o f the d i f f i c u l t i e s classifying  o f a c c u r a t e l y a n a l y z i n g and  the v e r y d i v e r s e responses  of students i s  e v i d e n t i n K i r y l u k ' s (1980) sample o f students'  responses  to q u e s t i o n s about t h e i r f e e l i n g s on mathematics.  Some  students s a i d they l i k e d mathematics because i t was always d i f f e r e n t ; some hated  i t because i t was always the same.  Some d e s i r e d easy e x e r c i s e s so t h a t they d i d not have to s t r u g g l e ; some wanted c h a l l e n g i n g , d i f f i c u l t e x e r c i s e s . Brodie (1964) t e s t e d high school students to see i f any r e l a t i o n s h i p e x i s t e d between a t t i t u d e and achievement. He administered  t e s t s measuring nine aspects o f academic  knowledge and s k i l l .  A t t i t u d e s were measured using the  Student Opinion P o l l developed (1959).  by Jackson and G e t z e l s  The r e s u l t s o f Brodie>s study i n d i c a t e d  which measured s k i l l s c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d with o b j e c t i v e s and d r i l l  that t e s t s  classroom  r o u t i n e were more c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to  a t t i t u d e than were general knowledge areas acquired independent  reading and o b s e r v a t i o n .  through  In other words, a  negative a t t i t u d e to school was r e l a t e d t o poor performance i n school s u b j e c t s , but not to g e n e r a l knowledge gained  o u t s i d e the classroom.  These r e s u l t s are s i m i l a r to those  of Malpass (1953), who found  that classroom grades, as  opposed to standard achievement t e s t marks, were r e l a t e d to attitude. Dean (1950) examined the attitude-achievement q u e s t i o n by asking students t h e i r s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s and r e l a t i n g these to scores on achievement t e s t s .  He found a  tendency,  but no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p , between s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e and achievement among the elementary involved  school students  i n the study.  Influence o f the Teacher Tenenbaum (1940) suggested  that while many f a c t o r s may  i n f l u e n c e a c h i l d ' s a t t i t u d e t o s c h o o l , the teacher i s the s i n g l e most important  factor.  He a l s o expressed  the view  that of the many i n f l u e n c i n g f a c t o r s the teacher i s the most f l e x i b l e and e a s i l y changed.  I f , as research seems to  i n d i c a t e , the teacher i s an important  i n f l u e n c e on  students' a t t i t u d e s , then the d i s c u s s i o n of the teacherp u p i l r e l a t i o n s h i p i s r e l e v a n t to the study o f s u b j e c t preference. Lounsbury (1981) reported on a study o f the middle school experience i n which r e s e a r c h e r s c l o s e l y observed grade seven  students i n 100 d i f f e r e n t s c h o o l s .  100  Each  student was followed through a day o f s c h o o l , observed, and  15 l a t e r interviewed as to how c o n c l u s i o n s were drawn:  he f e l t  about s c h o o l .  These  the grade seven day i s o f t e n not  i n t e r e s t i n g or v a r i e d enough; more emphasis shold be placed on i n d i v i d u a l needs; the r e l a t i o n s between teachers and p u p i l s are g e n e r a l l y good, but the r e l a t i o n s h i p i s not being t r a n s l a t e d or  i n t o e d u c a t i o n a l independence of  the sharing of l e a r n i n g  thought  experience.  Brooks (1978) had 94 grade f o u r to s i x students draw p i c t u r e s of t h e i r classrooms. teacher answering  Each p i c t u r e portrayed  a question the p u p i l had j u s t  the  asked.  Students a l s o answered a w r i t t e n q u e s t i o n n a i r e t h a t measured a t t i t u d e to s c h o o l .  R e s u l t s were that students  with negative a t t i t u d e s to school u s u a l l y drew the teacher far  away from the student i n the p i c t u r e , while those with  p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s drew the teacher standing c l o s e r to the student.  There was  the student and  a l s o l e s s d i s c r e p a n c y i n h e i g h t between  the teacher i n the drawings of those with  positive attitudes.  The authors f e l t t h a t such  classroom  c o n t e x t u a l drawings formed a good, unobtrusive measure of p u p i l a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l . The  i n f l u e n c e of the teacher on younger c h i l d r e n  demonstrated i n Sechrest's study k i n d e r g a r t e n , grades one,  was  (1962) of c h i l d r e n i n  two and t h r e e .  views with the c h i l d r e n , i t appeared  From the  that t h e i r  inter-  teachers  used many m o t i v a t i o n a l d e v i c e s such as s t a r s , p r a i s e and  16 criticism.  The most powerful d e v i c e from  p o i n t of view was  the teacher's own  could g i v e or withhold.  the c h i l d r e n ' s  a t t e n t i o n , which she  Most of the c h i l d r e n i n t h i s  study  were g e n e r a l l y p o s i t i v e about t h e i r experiences i n s c h o o l , and most seemed to regard the teacher as the main source of the good things that happened to them i n s c h o o l . Jersild's who  (1943) study of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of teachers  are l i k e d best and d i s l i k e d most showed the most valued  t r a i t s to be kindness, sense of humour, l i v e l i n e s s and liking  for others.  As w e l l , c h i l d r e n l i k e d teachers  were f a i r d i s c i p l i n a r i a n s and were i n t e r e s t i n g and in actual teaching. by o l d e r c h i l d r e n . unkindness,  a who  helpful  S k i l l as a teacher was mentioned more C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s d i s l i k e d were sarcasm,  the showing of f a v o r i t i s m and  the meting out of  u n f a i r punishments. Leeds'  (1954) study of teacher behavior l i k e d  d i s l i k e d by grade four to s i x students showed results.  Students d i s l i k e d  were bossy and  teachers who  scolded a l o t ,  and gave a l o t of homework.  Even s u p e r i o r teachers were seen as having universally disliked.  fun and who  'pets', and  P u p i l s d i d l i k e teachers  were p a t i e n t , k i n d , i n t e r e s t e d , h e l p f u l , fair,  similar  c r o s s , t a l k e d too much, were angry when  students d i d n ' t understand,  was  and  kept t h e i r promises.  r e a l f e a r and d i s l i k e of teachers who  this  who  understanding, They expressed  a  y e l l e d , were u n f a i r  17 and  embarrassed  The  extent  pupils.  to which  Sense o f humour was  teacher behavior  much v a l u e d .  affects  students'  subject  p r e f e r e n c e r e m a i n s t o be d e m o n s t r a t e d , b u t  logical  t h a t a t e a c h e r whom s t u d e n t s  evoke more p o s i t i v e a  teacher  Together of  students  in  dislike  these  two  the  traits skill  must go  skill  'human' c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s  effect.  as a  a s a t e a c h e r was  (1944) , whose s t u d y  were q u i t e c r i t i c a l more p o p u l a r  by  than  school i t s e l f ,  Girls  indicated  o f s c h o o l , found  s c h o o l mentioned  the cause.  could  teacher  mentioned  the  students  studies.  Tenenbaum  disliked  trust  c o u l d have t h e o p p o s i t e  s u b j e c t , but  l e s s o f t e n than  and  r e a c t i o n s t o t h e v a r i o u s s u b j e c t s , and  with p e r s o n a l i t y  a specific  like  i t seems  liked  the  their  that  students  t h a t t e a c h e r s were  although  those  who  t e a c h e r most f r e q u e n t l y as t e a c h e r s more o f t e n  than  boys. Tiedeman  (1942) found  studies of J e r s i l d graders  disliked  domineering; threats for  and  who  helpful  liked and  were f a i r  Leeds:  t e a c h e r s who used  similar  seventh,  were a u t o c r a t i c  ridicule  differences t e a c h e r s who  and  and  who  who  showed  and  provide  favoritism. cheerful;  had  tidy  ninth  made  d i d not  were k i n d and  were n e a t  later  and  s a r c a s m ; who  e x p l a i n e d t h i n g s w e l l ; who  to a l l ;  to the  e i g h t h and  gave s e v e r e p u n i s h m e n t s ; who  individual  Students  and  results  no  'pets'  were and  i n t h e i r dress  and  18 classroom; who out  were f r i e n d l y and  of the clasroom; who  understood  had  p o l i t e when encountered  a sense of humour and  who  children.  In Witty's (1947) a n a l y s i s of the p e r s o n a l i t y of the e f f e c t i v e teacher, he described reports  written  e n t i t l e d , "The  by 12,000 grade two Teacher Who  most f r e q u e n t l y  Has  to twelve students  mentioned t r a i t s were a  i n d i v i d u a l , patience, appearance and  the r e s u l t s o f  Helped Me  democratic a t t i t u d e , k i n d l i n e s s and  Most".  co-operative,  manner, f a i r n e s s and  Two subjects  p r a i s e , and  there was  impartiality,  use  behavior,  of  unusual p r o f i c i e n c y i n  l i n k e d teacher a t t i t u d e toward  students' a t t i t u d e s toward the same  Faust (1963) s t u d i e d five pupils.  the  teaching  subject.  studies and  for  consistent  i n t e r e s t i n p u p i l s ' problems, f l e x i b i l i t y ,  a particular  twelve  wide i n t e r e s t s , good personal  pleasing  and  The  consideration  sense of humour, good d i s p o s i t i o n and  recognition  traits  One  the s u b j e c t  of the  subject.  p r e f e r e n c e s of 2,535 grade  f i n d i n g s of t h i s study was  a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between the  of teachers and  school  that  attitudes  the a t t i t u d e s of t h e i r students to  school  subjects. Breen (1979) studied  grade one  t h e i r a t t i t u d e s to a r i t h m e t i c , r e a d i n g , and  to f i v e students  science,  s o c i a l studies  found a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between  and nd  teacher i n t e r e s t  i n subject matter taught and  students'  a t t i t u d e s toward subject matter. Inskeep and  Monroe (1965), however,' concluded  t h e i r study t h a t there was  no s i g n i f i c a n t  between the p r e f e r e n c e s of teachers and t h e i r students, f o r v a r i o u s elementary  from  correlation  the p r e f e r e n c e s of school s u b j e c t s .  Sex D i f f e r e n c e s One  of the f a c t o r s that i s mentioned most o f t e n i n  student a t t i t u d e reseach expressed  i s the d i f f e r e n t a t t i t u d e s  by g i r l s and boys.  Boys and g i r l s tend to r e a c t  d i f f e r e n t l y i n school and have d i f f e r e n t s u b j e c t preferences. Barker Lunn (1972), who c h i l d r e n i n England,  found  s t u d i e d 2,000 j u n i o r school  that g i r l s had  more f a v o r a b l e a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l . i n t e r e s t i n , and  significantly  They a l s o had more  placed more importance on schoolwork.  They were more i n v o l v e d with the s o c i a l network of own  classrooms,  hand, g i r l s had anxious  On  the o t h e r  a poorer academic self-image and were more  in class.  because g i r l s judged  and were more conforming.  their  Barker Lunn suggested  s e t higher standards  themselves more h a r s h l y .  that t h i s  was  f o r themselves and  In t h i s study g i r l s a l s o  obtained higher scores on r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t e a c h e r s . Brodie  (1964) found  that the attitude-achievement  link  20 was  s t r o n g e r i n g i r l s than i n boys.  In t h i s study, which  measured students' s a t i s f a c t i o n with school a g a i n s t t h e i r achievement, s a t i s f i e d g i r l s obtained the h i g h e s t a c h i e v e ment s c o r e s , and d i s s a t i s f i e d g i r l s obtained the  lowest  achievement s c o r e s . Glick  (1970) a l s o found more extremes with g i r l s when  he s t u d i e d a t t i t u d e to school and Low  socioeconomic  s t a t u s g i r l s had  socioeconomic  the l e a s t f a v o r a b l e  a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l , and high socioeconomic had  status.  status g i r l s  the most f a v o r a b l e a t t i t u d e s . Jackson and G e t z e l s (1959) examined the p s y c h o l o g i c a l  bases f o r students' d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with s c h o o l . found  They  that while d i s s a t i s f i e d boys tend to p l a c e blame  outwardly  on s c h o o l a u t h o r i t i e s and o t h e r s , and  disruptive, dissatisfied g i r l s blame themselves.  The  tend to f e e l  thus become  inadequate  f a c t t h a t teachers i n t h i s  were able to d i s t i n g u i s h d i s s a t i s f i e d  and  study  from s a t i s f i e d  boys,  but were l e s s able to make the d i s t i n c t i o n with g i r l s , considered by Jackson and G e t z e l s to be i n d i c a t i v e of  was how  f e e l i n g s of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n are manifested d i f f e r e n t l y i n g i r l s and  i n boys.  While d i s s a t i s f i e d  boys tend to a c t  out, d i s s a t i s f i e d g i r l s tend to r e t r e a t i n t o with an i n n e r a n x i e t y that may N e i l and Tismer (1965) a l l found  not be e a s i l y  themselves discernible.  (1970) , Tenenbaum (1940) and  Wisenthal  that g i r l s ' a t t i t u d e s i n g e n e r a l were more  21 p o s i t i v e than boys'. There are a l s o d i f f e r e n c e s i n the s u b j e c t and  achievement of g i r l s and  boys.  g i r l s l i k e E n g l i s h b e t t e r and science  preferences  Most s t u d i e s show that  boys l i k e mathematics  and  better.  In terms of achievement, Wisenthal (1965) found  that  g i r l s did s i g n i f i c a n t l y better in school. Of and  three  s t u d i e s that d i d f i n d a l i n k between a t t i t u d e  achievement, one  stronger  in g i r l s  than i n boys, while two  l i n k to be stronger  The Two  graders,  be  s t u d i e s found  the  i n boys than i n g i r l s .  Decline  i n A t t i t u d e s to School  s t u d i e s i n d i c a t e d that students'  school may Flanders,  study found t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p to  d e c l i n e from f a l l Morrison and  a t t i t u d e s to  to s p r i n g of the school  Brode (1968), who  studied  820  year. sixth  found a s i g n i f i c a n t l o s s i n p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e of  p u p i l s toward t h e i r teachers the school year.  and  This e r o s i o n of p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s d i d  not appear to be r e l a t e d to IQ, school achievement.  socioeconomic s t a t u s  Rather i t was  sense of locus of c o n t r o l . c o n t r o l , who  t h e i r schoolwork during  or  r e l a t e d to a student's  Those with an e x t e r n a l locus  tended to b e l i e v e that o u t s i d e  f a c t o r s were  a f f e c t i n g , t h e i r l i v e s , began the year with l e s s p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s and  a l s o showed s i g n i f i c a n t l y g r e a t e r  l o s s of  of  22 positive an  a t t i t u d e s during  internal locus  of  the  year  c o n t r o l , who  they b a s i c a l l y c o n t r o l l e d t h e i r of  than d i d tended  own  teachers  exhibited  a lower  with  to b e l i e v e  lives.  p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s also occurred  students  that  Greater  losses  among s t u d e n t s whose  incidence  of p r a i s e  and  encouragement. Neale, G i l l attitudes of  the  toward  and  Tismer  (1970) f o u n d  a l l subjects  year than at  the  beginning.  Several students'  studies  Wisenthal school  declined Beck school less grade  to  have found  While both g i r l s '  a general  first  curriculum  were  in  from  the  school.  found  that  t o the  (1977) r e p o r t e d  decline  they progress  (1965) , i n a s t u d y o f o v e r  from t h e  end  and  a t t i t u d e s in general  as  j u n i o r high  students,  the  boys'.  a t t i t u d e s to school  primary grades  junior  than  students'  were l e s s p o s i t i v e a t  boys' a t t i t u d e s d e c l i n e d , g i r l s ' found more f a v o r a b l e  that  2,000  a t t i t u d e s to  fourth  English school  form.  t h a t w h i l e p u p i l a t t i t u d e s to  were g e n e r a l l y  p o s i t i v e as g r a d e l e v e l  the  p o s i t i v e , a t t i t u d e s were  increased,  especially after  four. H a l a d y n a and  e i g h t p u p i l s and  Thomas (1979) s t u d i e d found  showed a s t e a d y d e c l i n e grade e i g h t  that  their  a t t i t u d e s to  as g r a d e l e v e l  s t u d e n t s were q u i t e  3,000 g r a d e s i x school  progressed,  negative.  to  Attitude  until to  by  23 school d i d not seem to be r e l a t e d to a t t i t u d e to s p e c i f i c subjects.  A t t i t u d e s to s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t s were  fairly  s t a b l e throughout the grades. Snyder and S i b r e l educational  (1971) found that o f 40 common  experiences,  24 were perceived  more n e g a t i v e l y by intermediate  significantly  c h i l d r e n than by primary  children.  Other F a c t o r s  Related  to A t t i t u d e s to School  Another f a c t o r that has been looked student a t t i t u d e s to school  at i n r e l a t i o n to  i s method o f i n s t r u c t i o n .  Anttonen and Broome (1978) examined students' w e l l as s e v e r a l other district.  f a c t o r s , at three schools  One of the schools  t i o n and the other  i n the same  had i n d i v i d u a l i z e d i n s t r u c -  two had r e g u l a r i n s t r u c t i o n .  r e s u l t s i n d i c a t e d that students i n the school individualized  a t t i t u d e s , as  The  with  i n s t r u c t i o n had more p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s than  those i n the two schools with r e g u l a r i n s t r u c t i o n . Gilbert  (1980) reported  on an e v a l u a t i o n o f a new  a l t e r n a t e program o f f e r e d at an elementary school i n Vancouver.  T h i s program had c u r r i c u l a r and o r g a n i z a t i o n a l  modifications  that o f f e r e d o p t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s ,  community  r e c r e a t i o n , semestering o f some s u b j e c t s and s t r u c t u r e d free time f o r grades four through seven.  E v a l u a t i o n of the  program i n d i c a t e d that there was b a s i c a l l y no d i f f e r e n c e i n  a t t i t u d e between the a l t e r n a t e program students and  their  r e g u l a r program c o u n t e r p a r t s , except that a l t e r n a t e program students were more p o s i t i v e r e g a r d i n g school s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e and c l i m a t e . Another study compared the a t t i t u d e s to s c i e n c e o f students i n a r e g u l a r and a r e v i s e d program. Bowyer and P a d i l l a  Lowery,  (1980) compared the a t t i t u d e s o f 110  elementary students who had experienced the f u l l of  s i x years  a new, experimental s c i e n c e course that was l e s s  text-  book and more a c t i v i t y o r i e n t e d , with the a t t i t u d e s o f s i m i l a r r e g u l a r program s t u d e n t s .  Boys i n both programs  were more f a v o r a b l e to s c i e n c e than g i r l s . students, both boys and g i r l s ,  New program  were s i g n i f i c a n t l y more  f a v o r a b l e to s c i e n c e , experimenting, and to s c i e n t i s t s , than the r e g u l a r program s t u d e n t s . students enjoyed s c i e n c e more.  The new program  The authors saw t h i s as an  encouraging s i g n that an improved  c u r r i c u l u m can have a  p o s i t i v e e f f e c t on students' a t t i t u d e s . G l i c k (1970) found that the a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l o f s i x t h grade students were a f f e c t e d  by socioeconomic  Low socioeconomic s t a t u s females had the l e a s t  positive  a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l , and high socioeconomic s t a t u s had the most p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s . boys' a t t i t u d e s improved  from f a l l  status.  Low socioeconomic  females status  to s p r i n g , and high  25 socioeconomic  b o y s ' a t t i t u d e s d e c l i n e d from  fall  to  spring. Epstein faction  and M c P a r t l a n d  with  s c h o o l and found  satisfaction comfortable ambitious received  (1976) s t u d i e d s t u d e n t s '  with with  that students with  the school r u l e s  feed-back  from  and r e g u l a t i o n s , were s e l f - e v a l u a t i o n and  t e a c h e r s and p a r e n t s .  These s t u d i e s h e l p t o form student  high  s c h o o l were g e n e r a l l y t h o s e who were  and i n d u s t r i o u s , had good good  satis-  the o v e r a l l  picture of  a t t i t u d e s o f which s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e  i s a part.  Summary From t h i s  review,  s e v e r a l m a j o r p o i n t s have emerged  with  respect to students' a t t i t u d e s  1.  While  most s t u d i e s found  relationship Malpass  between a t t i t u d e  (1953) and B r o d i e  between a t t i t u d e standardized found  significant  achievement reading, 2. While  test  no r e l a t i o n s h i p  classroom Neale,  relationships  f o r boys f o r s o c i a l  and f o r g i r l s  The t e a c h e r  o r a weak  t o s c h o o l and a c h i e v e m e n t ,  (1964) d i d f i n d  and a c t u a l results.  to school.  a relationship  grades,  Gill  rather  and T i s m e r  than  (1970)  between a t t i t u d e and s t u d i e s , a r i t h m e t i c and  f o r reading.  i s a m a j o r i n f l u e n c e on s t u d e n t  r e s e a r c h has r e v e a l e d the important  t e a c h e r on s t u d e n t s ' g e n e r a l a t t i t u d e s  attitudes.  i n f l u e n c e o f the  to school,  little  research teacher and  has  been d i r e c t e d toward the  on a t t i t u d e s to s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t s .  Breen (1979) d i d f i n d  school  i n f l u e n c e of  that teacher  the  Faust (1963)  a t t i t u d e s toward  s u b j e c t s were r e l a t e d to students'  subject  preferences. 3.  Boys and  g i r l s have d i f f e r e n t a t t i t u d e s to  school.  G i r l s tend to be more p o s i t i v e to both school and Boys and  g i r l s a l s o tend to have d i f f e r e n t s u b j e c t  preferences. language and preferences 4.  G i r l s express stronger reading,  s t a t u s and  preferences  while boys express  f o r s c i e n c e and  Curriculum,  school.  teachers.  for  stronger  mathematics.  method of i n s t r u c t i o n , socioeconomic  s e l f - c o n c e p t appear to be r e l a t e d to a t t i t u d e to  Several  s t u d i e s showed t h a t an improved  or a d i f f e r e n t method of i n s t r u c t i o n could  curriculum  result in  improved a t t i t u d e s toward a s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t , or to in general.  Students with a good s e l f - c o n c e p t  have more p o s i t i v e f e e l i n g s about s c h o o l . found that low  s t a t u s g i r l s had  a t t i t u d e s improved from f a l l  fall  the l e a s t  socioeconomic  the most p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s .  study a l s o i n d i c a t e d that low  and  t h a t high  appear to  G l i c k (1970)  socioeconomic s t a t u s g i r l s had  p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l , and  school  Glick's  socioeconomic s t a t u s boys' to s p r i n g of the school  year,  high socioeconomic s t a t u s boys' a t t i t u d e s d e c l i n e d to s p r i n g .  from  5.  In terms of s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e , students appear to  l i k e p h y s i c a l education, a r i t h m e t i c and a r t b e s t , r a t e social  s t u d i e s , s c i e n c e , music and  and r a t e language the  reading i n the  middle,  lowest.  The present study attempts to add  to the body of know-  ledge on student a t t i t u d e s to school by examining subject preferences i n r e l a t i o n achievement, a b i l i t y and  to sex, grade l e v e l ,  the teacher.  these v a r i a b l e s i n r e l a t i o n  students'  By examining a l l of  to the f u l l range of  elementary  school s u b j e c t s , t h i s study should provide a more comprehensive p i c t u r e of s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e than has been reported i n the  literature.  yet  28 Chapter I I I Method  Subjects This study district  i n the m e t r o p o l i t a n  Columbia. and  i n v o l v e d 296  students  from a s c h o o l  area of Vancouver, B r i t i s h  This number comprised a l l the grade f i v e , s i x  seven students  i n three d i f f e r e n t s c h o o l s .  shows the number of boys and  g i r l s o v e r a l l and  Table  1  i n each  grade.  Instruments  Subject Area Preference preferences  Test.  Students'  subject  were determined by using a t e s t developed  the I n s t r u c t i o n a l O b j e c t i v e s Exchange i n C a l i f o r n i a . t e s t measures preferences  I t i s scored as f o l l o w s :  f o r each s u b j e c t , four questions or two  The  f o r e i g h t s u b j e c t s i n the  elementary school c u r r i c u l u m .  a s s i g n zero, one  by  are asked.  Students can  p o i n t s f o r each q u e s t i o n .  t o t a l score of e i g h t can be assigned  to a s u b j e c t .  Thus a Eight  i n d i c a t e s the most p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e toward a s u b j e c t , zero i n d i c a t e s the most negative a t t i t u d e .  Students can  a s s i g n any number from zero to e i g h t f o r each s u b j e c t . copy of t h i s t e s t can be found i n Appendix  and  1.  A  No r e l i a b i l i t y  or v a l i d i t y data were a v a i l a b l e from  the p u b l i s h e r s f o r the t e s t , and i n d i c a t i o n that i t had  an ERIC search gave no  been used by other  L o g i c a l v a l i d i t y was  researchers.  e s t a b l i s h e d by submitting  t e s t to a panel of teachers, who  found  the  i t to appear  satis-  f a c t o r y f o r i t s s t a t e d purpose. Two First,  methods were used to e s t a b l i s h  the t e s t - r e t e s t method was  used.  reliability. One  class  was  given the t e s t twice with an i n t e r v e n i n g p e r i o d of weeks. for  Test-retest r e l i a b i l i t y  c o e f f i c i e n t s were computed  each of the e i g h t school s u b j e c t s .  i n Table  consistency.  This t e s t was  Subject Area Preference T e s t s . i n Table  These are  presented  2.  Second, the s p l i t h a l f method was nal  three  2.  The  used to t e s t  inter-  performed on one c l a s s ' s These r e s u l t s a l s o appear  low t e s t - r e t e s t r e s u l t f o r reading may  accounted f o r by the f a c t t h a t o n l y one the t e s t - r e t e s t , and  c l a s s was  used f o r  any change i n that c l a s s ' s reading  i n s t r u c t i o n or c u r r i c u l u m could have a f f e c t e d the  students'  a t t i t u d e s to r e a d i n g , causing  them to r a t e reading  d i f f e r e n t l y the second time.  T h i s c l a s s d i d experience  change of teacher a f t e r the f i r s t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of Subject Area Preference T e s t .  c l a s s was  a v a i l a b l e f o r two  a  the  While a l a r g e r t e s t - r e t e s t  sample would have c o r r e c t e d f o r t h i s type of e f f e c t , one  be  a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s of  only  the  30  Table 1  Grade Placement of Boys and G i r l s i n the Sample N=296 5  grade 6  total  7  boys  52  54  58  164  girls  47  46  39  132  total  99  100  97  296  Table 2  T e s t - R e t e s t and S p l i t H a l f R e l i a b i l i t i e s of the Subject Area Preference Test N=28  Subject  area  Physical  education  Test-Retest Results  Internal Consistency (split half) Results  0.84  0.85  Art  0.70  0.70  Mathematics  0.54  0.55  Music  0.84  0.65  0.67  0.70  Science  0.74  0.69  Reading  0.37  0.83  Language a r t s  0.82  0.58  Social  Studies  test.  Since  the i n t e r n a l and s i n c e  consistency coefficient  ing  i s high,  a l l other  are  satisfactory, this  How  I F e e l A b o u t Language A r t s .  i s not  q u e s t i o n n a i r e , designed possible arts,  reasons  w h i c h was  results  of  the  Logical in  which  agreed its  stated  twice  the  least  Subject  determine  about  language  an  to  the  Test.  e s t a b l i s h e d through  a  procedure  of teachers,  appropriate  p o s s i b l e to administer  c l a s s because of and  the  who  instrument  for  reliability  coefficients  and  request  was  to conduct was  found  was  that the  not  could  be  i n Appendix  2.  Procedure  o f 198 3 a l e t t e r  permission  be  time  were d e s c r i p t i v e ,  reliability  Thus no  The  questionnaire  f o r computing  T h i s q u e s t i o n n a i r e can  asking  this  amount o f c l a s s  as most r e s p o n s e s  technique  In J a n u a r y  resulted:  to  this  subject according  Preference  t o be  Design  district.  was  feelings  shown t o a p a n e l  appropriate.  board  author,  test  not  t o any  computed.  purpose o f  was  was  coefficients  purpose.  was  half  The  popular  Area  read-  s e e n as a s e r i o u s weakness.  validity  available,  split  the  for students'  t h a t i t appeared  It  was  the  by  reliability  for  approved  sent  this but  t o the  study  school  i n i t s school  several constraints  32 1.  The o r i g i n a l request was f o r 600 students and permission was granted to use 300 students.  2.  Random sampling  was not p o s s i b l e due to the d i s r u p t i o n  of c l a s s e s that would occur i f o n l y a few students from each c l a s s were to complete the t e s t and q u e s t i o n n a i r e ; thus i n t a c t c l a s s e s were used. 3.  Data on the socioeconomic not  s t a t u s of the students were  available.  T h i r t e e n o f the fourteen grade f i v e to seven i n the three schools agreed and  teachers  to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the study,  these teachers s u p p l i e d l e t t e r grades  for their  students i n r e a d i n g , language a r t s , mathematics, s o c i a l s t u d i e s , s c i e n c e , a r t , music and p h y s i c a l education. Teachers  a l s o s u p p l i e d reading scores from the Canada Test  of B a s i c S k i l l s f o r each of t h e i r s t u d e n t s . study students were not i d e n t i f i e d c l a s s and number on the c l a s s  Throughout the  by name, but by s c h o o l ,  list.  In February, 1983, the Subject Area Preference Test was submitted  t o a panel o f teachers f o r t h e i r  A f t e r t h i s panel judged  the t e s t to be v a l i d ,  administered to one grade seven c l a s s .  examination. the t e s t  was  Three weeks l a t e r ,  at the end o f February, the t e s t was administered to t h i s c l a s s again as w e l l as to the other twelve classes.  participating  The t e s t was administered by classroom  teachers  according to i n s t r u c t i o n s accompanying the q u e s t i o n n a i r e s .  Questionnaires author.  were then c o l l e c t e d  Test-retest r e l i a b i l i t y  and  scored by  the  c o e f f i c i e n t s were computed  from the scores of the c l a s s that completed the  test  twice. Scores  from the Subject Area Preference T e s t showed  language a r t s to be the l e a s t popular  s u b j e c t , and  i n v e s t i g a t e f u r t h e r t h i s r e s u l t the How Language A r t s q u e s t i o n n a i r e was T h i s q u e s t i o n n a i r e was  submitted  designed  I F e e l About i n March, 198 3.  to the same panel of  teachers to e s t a b l i s h l o g i c a l v a l i d i t y . the How  In A p r i l ,  I F e e l About Language A r t s q u e s t i o n n a i r e  administered  by classroom  to  teachers.  1983, was  34 Chapter IV Results  Data A n a l y s i s The order o f s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s was o v e r a l l , by sex and by grade,  determined  and means and standard  d e v i a t i o n s f o r each s u b j e c t were c a l c u l a t e d . are presented  i n Tables 3 through  When s u b j e c t s were arranged  These r e s u l t s  8. i n o v e r a l l rank o r d e r , as  shown i n Table 3, four groups o r c l u s t e r s o f s u b j e c t s were discovered.  While i n s p e c t i o n r e v e a l s that the d i f f e r e n c e s  between rank orders i n each group were minimal, the d i f f e r e n c e s between groups were found  to be s i g n i f i c a n t ,  ^ - t e s t s of the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f these d i f f e r e n c e s are presented  i n Table 9.  Each school s u b j e c t was p l o t t e d according t o the frequency  by which each o f the p o s s i b l e preference s c o r e s ,  zero to e i g h t , was chosen.  The d i s t r i b u t i o n o f preference  scores f o r each school s u b j e c t i s presented  i n Figure 1.  Pearson product moment c o r r e l a t i o n s were c a l c u l a t e d t o see which v a r i a b l e s might be c o r r e l a t e d with s u b j e c t preference s c o r e s .  These r e s u l t s are presented  of a c o r r e l a t i o n matrix  i n Table 10.  i n the form  35  Table 3  Order o f Subject P r e f e r e n c e s O v e r a l l N=296  Rank  Subject name  1  Physical  2.  Education  Standard deviation  Mean* 6.67  1.79  Art  5.73  2.06  3.  Mathematics  5.69  2.02  4.  Music  5.20  2.32  5.  Social  5.11  2.19  6.  Science  5.08  2.37  7.  Reading  5.08  2.20  8.  Language A r t s  4.17  2.48  Studies  * E i g h t was the h i g h e s t score that could be assigned to a s u b j e c t .  Table 4 Rank  Order of Subject P r e f e r e n c e :  boys N== 164 Standard Deviation  Subject name  Mean  1.  Physical  6.78  1.67  2.  Mathematics  5.46  2.08  3.  Art  5.44  2.22  4.  Social  5.29  2.27  5.  Science  5.18  2.49  6.  Music  4.79  2.56  7.  Reading  4.72  2.24  8.  Language A r t s  3.73  2.24  Education  Studies  36 Table 5  Order o f Subject P r e f e r e n c e s :  Rank  Subject name  Mean  Standard deviation  6.54  1.94  1.  Physical  2.  Art  6.10  1.78  3.  Mathematics  5.98  1.91  4.  Music  5.71  1.88  5.  Reading  5.53  2.08  6.  Science  4.95  2.22  7.  Social  4.88  2.07  8.  Language A r t s  4.71  2.43  Table 6  Education  g i r l s N=132  Studies  Order o f Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : grade f i v e N=99 Subject name  Mean  Standard Deviation  1.  Physical  6.76  1.73  2.  Art  6.48  1.47  3.  Mathematics  6.29  1.78  4.  Reading  5.68  2.12  5.  Music  5.45  2.50  6.  Science  5. 28  2.41  7.  Social  5.26  2.22  8.  Language A r t s  5.07  2.49  Rank  Education  Studies  37 Table 7  Order o f Subject P r e f e r e n c e s :  Rank  Subject name  Mean  Standard deviation  6.68  1.83  1.  Physical  2.  Art  5.87  1.75  3.  Mathematics  5.66  1.98  4.  Music  5.54  2.18  5.  Science  5.43  2.13  6.  Social  5.28  1.98  7.  Reading  4.68  2.06  8.  Language A r t s  3.96  2.26  Table 8  Education  grade s i x N=100  Studies  Order o f Subject P r e f e r e n c e s : grade seven N=97 Subject name  Mean  Standard Deviation  1.  Physical  6.57  1.84  2.  Mathematics  5.12  2.14  3.  Reading  4.90  2.32  4.  Art  4.84  2.50  5.  Social  4.78  2.36  6.  Music  4.59  2.18  7.  Science  4.50  2.50  8.  Language A r t s  3.48  2.44  Rank  Education  Studies  38 Table 9  Rank 1.  2.  Subject Preferences Grouped According to S i g n i f i c a n t D i f f e r e n c e s i n the Means N=296  Subject name P h y s i c a l Education  Standard deviation  6.67  1.79  5.73  2.06  5.69  2.02  5.20  2.32  5.11  2.19  Science  5.08  2.37  Reading  5.08  2.20  Art Mathematics  3.  Mean  Music Social  Studies  t=6.22 p<.01  t=2.82 p<.01  t=4.65 p .01 <  4.  Language A r t s  4.17  2.48  Table 10 Pearson Product Moment C o r r e l a t i o n s  Subject Preferences  APE  AA  AM  AMu  PPE  .18  .04  .16  .13  .15  .13  .08  .05  .24  PA  .18  .02  .01  .02  .05  .02  .03  .10  PM  .06  .02  .11  .02  .01  .01  .10  PMu  .22  .10  .15  .28*  .09  .01  PS  .09  .01  .16  .04  .25  PSc  .01  .04  .01  .10  PR  .06  .02  .10  PL  .11  .07  .07  N=276  Achievement and other V a r i a b l e s AS AR AL CTBS Div ASc  Gr  Sex  Sch  .10  .03  .12  .13  .07  .01  .31* .11  .04  .12  .10  .20  .23  .08  .16  .06  .01  .05  .19  .02  .08  .21  .17  .09  .02  .07  .04  .12  .18  .08  .01  .19  .03  .02  .05  .06  .19  .12  .05  .02  .08  .03  .03  .02  .19  .22  .32* .21  .15  .09  .09  .09  .01  .04  .09  .13  .26  .03  .10  * p < .01 Abbreviations: P r e f e r e n c e s : P h y s i c a l Education-PPE, Art-PA, Mathematics-PM, Music-PMu, S o c i a l Studies-PS, Science-PSc, Reading-PR, Language A r t s - P i . Achievement: P h y s i c a l Education-APE, Art-AA, Mathematics-AM, Music-AMu, S o c i a l Studies-AS, Science-ASc, Reading-AR, Language Arts-AL. Other variables: Canada Test of B a s i c S k i l l s Reading Score-CTBS, D i v i s i o n - d i v , School-sch, Grade-gr.  40 Figure 1  Frequency  Distribution  S o c i a l Studies Mean 5.11 SD 2.19 80 70  0  J  1  2  3  4 5 6 Preference scores  7  Science Mean 5.08 SD 2.37 90 80 70  0  <  I 1  2  3  4 5 6 7 8 Preference scores  8  Figure 1 Reading Mean 5.08 SD 2.20  41  cont'd  80 70  0 | 1  2  3  4 5 6 7 8 Preference scores  Figure P.E. Mean  1 - cont'd  42  I 6.67  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  Art  M e a n 5.7 3 SD 2.06 90  1  2  3  4  5 Preference  6 scores  7  8  Figure 1 - cont' d  43  Math Mean 5.69 SD 2.02  10 <D -H O CD <D  4 5 Preference  6 7 scores  Music Mean 5.20 SD 2.32  cn CD •rH  O  c  CD fa  4  5  Preference  6 scores  7  44 An examination of Table X shows three correlations: achievement  significant  p r e f e r e n c e i n music i s c o r r e l a t e d i n music  with  (r=.28), p r e f e r e n c e i n a r t i s  correlated  with grade (r=.31) and p r e f e r e n c e i n reading i s  correlated  with grade (r=.32).  Analyses o f v a r i a n c e were done f o r the e f f e c t o f sex and grade on each of the e i g h t s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s . e f f e c t due t o sex was found t o be s t a t i s t i c a l l y f o r three school s u b j e c t s , with g i r l s  The  significant  expressing  s i g n i f i c a n t l y g r e a t e r p r e f e r e n c e s than boys f o r reading (F(290)=9.99, p<.01), language a r t s and music  (F(290)=10.48,  ( F( 290) =10 .77 , p<.01)  p<.01).  The e f f e c t due to grade was found to be s t a t i s t i c a l l y significant  f o r four school s u b j e c t , reading  p<.01), mathematics  (F(290)=7.84,  (F(290)=5.56,  p<.001), language  arts  (F(290)=9.62, p<.01) and a r t ( F( 290) =15. 61, p<.001). The i n t e r a c t i o n  between sex and grade l e v e l was not  found to be s i g n i f i c a n t  f o r any o f the e i g h t school  subjects. While the a n a l y s e s o f v a r i a n c e showed a s i g n i f i c a n t grade e f f e c t  f o r four s u b j e c t s , they d i d not r e v e a l  grade l e v e l d i f f e r e n c e s were s i g n i f i c a n t .  which  To determine  which grade l e v e l d i f f e r e n c e s were s i g n i f i c a n t , a number o f t-tests  were done.  To reduce the number o f J:-tests, and  thus reduce the chance of making a type one e r r o r , the  45 s m a l l e s t d i f f e r e n c e was measured f o r each s u b j e c t .  In the  case o f mathematics, the d i f f e r e n c e between the means o f grade s i x and seven was smaller grade f i v e and s i x .  than the d i f f e r e n c e between  The s m a l l e r , grade six-seven  d i f f e r e n c e was measured and found to be s i g n i f i c a n t (t(195)=0.54, p<.01), so the l a r g e r , grade  five-six  d i f f e r e n c e was a l s o assumed to be s i g n i f i c a n t . of reading the s m a l l e s t  In the case  d i f f e r e n c e , which was between  grades s i x and seven, was not found to be s i g n i f i c a n t , so the l a r g e r d i f f e r e n c e between grade f i v e and s i x was measured and found to be s i g n i f i c a n t  (jt(197) = 5.79,  p<.01).  For language a r t s the s m a l l e s t  d i f f e r e n c e was between  grades s i x and seven as w e l l .  This d i f f e r e n c e was found to  be s i g n i f i c a n t  ( t (195) =2. 58 , p<.01), so the l a r g e r , grade  f i v e - s i x d i f f e r e n c e was a l s o assumed to be s i g n i f i c a n t . For a r t , the s m a l l e s t d i f f e r e n c e was between grade f i v e and six.  This d i f f e r e n c e was measured and found to be  significant  (jt (197) =4. 55 , p<.01), so the l a r g e r , grade  six-seven d i f f e r e n c e was a l s o assumed to be s i g n i f i c a n t . In summary, f o r each of the four s u b j e c t s s i g n i f i c a n t grade e f f e c t was found  (reading,  i n which a  mathematics,  language a r t s and a r t ) , the d i f f e r e n c e s between grade and s i x and between grade s i x and seven were  significant,  except i n the case o f r e a d i n g , where only the grade f i v e - s i x d i f f e r e n c e was s i g n i f i c a n t .  five  46 The eight  differences i n subject preference  school  displayed  subjects, according  i n Figure  questionnaire question responses the  t h e How  are  Findings  I F e e l About Language  are presented  are given  t o s e x and g r a d e ,  i n Table  i n the form  11.  Arts  Responses  of percentages.  t o each  Only  those  t h a t were g i v e n by 10% o r more o f t h e s t u d e n t s i n  group are presented. Only  definite T h o s e who eight were  from  for a l l  2.  Further Results  means  the responses like  from  or dislike  assigned  of language  arts  on t h e S u b j e c t  included i n the ' l i k e '  z e r o , one o r two t o l a n g u a g e group.  who e x p r e s s e d were  a  analyzed.  s i x , seven o r e i g h t out o f a p o s s i b l e  t o language a r t s  'dislike'  students  Area  Preference  g r o u p , and t h o s e arts  were  who  Test  assigned  included i n the  47 Subject  Preference  Means (a)  PPE  PA  PM  PMU  PS  PSc  PR  PL  Subject Preference Means Overall MEAN SD PPE 6.7 1.8 PA  5.7  2.1  PM  5.7  2.0  PMu  5.2  2.3  PS  5.1  2.2  PSc  5.1  2.4  PR  5.1  2.2  PL  4.2  2.5  (b)  Subject Preference Means by Sex Boys Girls .. . PPE  MEAN SD 6.8 6.5 1.6 1.9  PA  5.4 6.1 2.2 1.8  PM  5.5 5.9 2.1 1.9  PMu  4.8 5.7 2.5 1.8  PS  5.3 4.8 2.3 2.1  PSC 5.2 4.9 2.5 2.2 PR  4.7 5.5 2.3 2.1  PL  3.7 4.7 2.4 2.4 CO  PPE  PA  PM  PMu  PS  PSc  PR  PL  >i O  m  CD rH  CO  CQ rH  -H  O  -H  U  o  >,  CQ  U  o  48 Figure 2  continued (c)  Subject Preference Means by Grade Grade 5 Grade 6 - - Grade 7  SDMEAN PPE 6 .7 6.6 6 .5 1 .7 1.8 1.8 PA  6 .5 5.8 4 .8 1 .5 1.7  2.5  PM  6 .3 5.6 5 .1 1 .7 1.9 2.1  PMu  5 .4 5.5 4 .6 2 .5 2.1 2.1  PS  5 .3 5.3 4 .8 2 . 2 1.9  2.3  PSc 5 .3 5.4 4 .5 2 .4 2.1 2.5 PR  5 .7 4.7 4 .9 2 .1 2.0 2.3  PL  5 .1 4.0 3 .5 2 .5 2.2 2.4  Grade 5  PPE  PA  PM  PMu  School  PS  PSc  Subjects  PR  PL  6  7  5  6  7  49 Table 11  Responses to the How I Feel About Arts Q u e s t i o n n a i r e like  d i s l i k e - N=73  N=86 statement  Language  like  If I had t o d e s c r i b e language a r t s i n one word, I would say it i s  25% 18 13 11  If I were a language a r t s teacher I would  25 15  14  14%  response  dislike  boring interesting okay good/excellent bad  26% 22 — 17  make i t more f u n / interesting 30 g i v e more work/ make i t harder g i v e l e s s work/ make i t e a s i e r 15 emphasize c r e a t i v e writing quit 15 be a good teacher/ explain well 12% emphasize spelling 10%  The t h i n g I l i k e best 45 about language a r t s i s 27  creative writing spelling nothing  The hardest thing about language a r t s i s  creative writing/ d e c i d i n g what t o to write 26 language 27 n o t h i n g - i t ' s easy — spelling 11  If I could change language a r t s somehow I would  32 22 11 — 23 16  41 22 22  make i t more f u n / interesting 32 give l e s s work/ make i t e a s i e r change i t to a r t , PE o r math 32  50 statement  response like  dislike  6.  The most important t h i n g I have learned from language a r t s i s  37 21 15 11  spelling 39 how to w r i t e w e l l 27 punctuation 13 how to speak w e l l —  7.  The most boring p a r t of language a r t s i s  28 22 15  creative writing language spelling everything  —  — 8.  9.  10.  10 31 19  When I was younger I thought language a r t s was  30 26  —  fun boring bad  18 17 22  The most i n t e r e s t i n g p a r t o f language a r t s is  44 23 10  creative writing spelling language nothing  42 19  The thing a language a r t s teacher should never do i s  —  — 22  —  — —  g i v e too much work y e l l / b e mean g i v e homework g i v e work that i s too d i f f i c u l t be boring  22 13 11  17 22 13 13  11.  The p a r t o f language a r t s I l i k e best i s  48 42 10  creative writing spelling language  57 41  12.  The p a r t of language a r t s I am best at i s  50 38 12  spelling creative writing language  43 57  13.  Language a r t s i s interesting  38 19  agree d isagree no strong feelings  10 53  43  37  51  statement 14.  Language a r t s i s u s e f u l to me now  like 62 10 28  15.  Language a r t s w i l l be u s e f u l to me when I am o l d e r  78 7 15  16.  Language a r t s i s d ifficult  18 35 47  17.  Language a r t s i s fun  28 32 40  18.  I get l o t s o f language a r t s homework  8 72 20  19.  I used to l i k e language a r t s b e t t e r when I was younger  32 35 33  20.  I wish I d i d n ' t have to take language a r t s  20 44 36  response  dislike  agree disagree no strong feelings  38 19  agree disagree no strong feelings  52 20  agree disagree no strong feelings agree disagree no strong feelings  43  28 20 31 49 7 64 29  agree disagree no strong feelings  12 58  agree disagree no strong feelings  41 34  agree disagree no strong feelings  57 16  30  25  27  52 Chapter  V  Discussion  Subject Area Preference Test In terms of the o v e r a l l order of s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e there were f o u r groups,  and not e i g h t d i s t i n c t c a t e g o r i e s .  These four groups are s i m i l a r to other s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e study r e s u l t s . Fraser  Inskeep and Monroe (1965), Faust (1963) and  (1980) a l l found p h y s i c a l education and a r i t h m e t i c  to be among the most popular s u b j e c t s , and Monroe, and subject. The  Inskeep and  Faust found language to be the l e a s t  T h i s study confirms those  popular  results.  frequency graphs ( F i g u r e 1) show c o n s i d e r a b l e  s i m i l a r i t y between a l l of the s u b j e c t s except language a r t s and p h y s i c a l e d u c a t i o n .  The graph  for physical  education  shows j u s t how  popular t h i s s u b j e c t was  among the students  i n the study.  130 p u p i l s , or almost h a l f the sample,  assigned p h y s i c a l education the maximum preference score of eight.  P h y s i c a l education a l s o had  deviation.  The graph  the s m a l l e s t standard  f o r language a r t s , on the other hand,  shows that p r e f e r e n c e scores f o r language a r t s were more widely d i s t r i b u t e d , as a t t e s t e d to by the f a c t that language a r t s had The Pearson  the l a r g e s t standard d e v i a t i o n . product moment c o r r e l a t i o n s showed three  significant correlations.  Achievement and preference i n  53 music  appeared  t o be r e l a t e d .  T h i s was  r e l a t i o n s h i p between a c h i e v e m e n t correlation social other  coefficient  significant  correlations  with  the p r e f e r e n c e 6.5,  SD  1.5;  mean 4.8,  SD  preference,  f o r achievement  s t u d i e s approached two  and  the o n l y  the l e v e l  mean 5.8,  2.5.  These  figures  preference  and  an  increasing  grade  SD  reading.  1.7;  show a  increasing standard  again  preference  expressed  deviations The  2.0;  in this  analyses  subject preference expressing  decreasing  d e v i a t i o n with  of variance f o r three  grade four  level  mean 5.7,  SD  grade  mean 4.9,  SD  results  and  2.3.  Standard  t o be r e l a t e d  s u b j e c t s , with  Haladyna  grade s i x :  similar.  showed sex  These  standard  2.;  greater preferences  music.  (1977) and  analyses  While  Means and  c a s e were a l l v e r y  significantly  o f Beck The  five:  grade seven:  r e a d i n g , l a n g u a g e and those  seven:  the g r e a t e s t p r e f e r e n c e , grade s i x  s c o r e s were t h e l o w e s t .  SD  mean  level.  d e v i a t i o n s were g r a d e mean 4.7,  For a r t ,  five:  grade  Reading d i d not f o l l o w t h i s p a t t e r n . fives  The  level  means f o r e a c h g r a d e were g r a d e six:  the in  of significance.  i n a r t and  grade  though  and p r e f e r e n c e  c o r r e l a t i o n s were g r a d e  preference  apparent  to  girls than boys f o r are s i m i l a r  to  Thomas ( 1 9 7 9 ) .  o f v a r i a n c e a l s o showed a  difference for four subject.  significant  For each o f  s u b j e c t s , r e a d i n g , l a n g u a g e , m a t h e m a t i c s and a r t ,  these  54  grade f i v e students expressed  the g r e a t e s t p r e f e r e n c e s .  For language, mathematics and a r t , d i f f e r e n c e s between the grade f i v e and  s i x s c o r e s , and between the grade s i x and  seven s c o r e s , were a l l s i g n i f i c a n t , i n d i c a t i n g a steady d e c l i n e over the three grades i n these s u b j e c t s .  This  confirms the f i n d i n g s of Beck (1977) t h a t students' a t t i t u d e s to s c h o o l s u b j e c t s become l e s s p o s i t i v e as grade l e v e l p r o g r e s s e s . These f i n d i n g s do not concur with of Haladyna and  Thomas (1979), however, who  found  those  that  while g e n e r a l a t t i t u d e s to school d e c l i n e d with i n c r e a s i n g grade,  a t t i t u d e s to s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t s were f a i r l y s t a b l e  throughout  the grades.  The only s u b j e c t i n t h i s study t h a t  did not show some d e c l i n e from grade f i v e to seven  was  p h y s i c a l e d u c a t i o n , which seemed to enjoy u n i v e r s a l and continued p o p u l a r i t y . N e i t h e r g e n e r a l a b i l i t y , as measured by the Canada Test of B a s i c S k i l l s , nor the teacher, as represented  in  Table 10 by the v a r i a b l e c a l l e d d i v i s i o n , appeared to be related  to s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e .  The How  I F e e l About Language A r t s Q u e s t i o n n a i r e  Responses to many of the questions were s i m i l a r f o r students who disliked responses  liked  language a r t s and  i t . As can be seen i n Table 11 to questions one,  two  remarkably  and  those  who  (page 31),  f i v e a l l i n d i c a t e d that  students i n both groups found felt  language a r t s b o r i n g , and  i t should be made more i n t e r e s t i n g and more fun.  Percentages  were very c l o s e f o r both groups making  these  responses. Questions  three, nine and e l e v e n a l l i n d i c a t e d t h a t  w i t h i n language a r t s , students from both groups p r e f e r r e d c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g overwhelmingly, language a d i s t a n t t h i r d . c l o s e f o r both  with s p e l l i n g second and  Again, percentages  were v e r y  groups.  Question s i x a l s o showed s i m i l a r r e s u l t s f o r both groups.  S p e l l i n g was f e l t  to be the most important t h i n g  learned from language a r t s , how to w r i t e w e l l was  second,  and punctuation was t h i r d . Responses to s e v e r a l q u e s t i o n s d i d show d i f f e r e n c e s between the two groups, however, q u e s t i o n s two, four and ten  gave some i n d i c a t i o n t h a t perhaps students who d i s l i k e  language a r t s f i n d of  i t more d i f f i c u l t .  In q u e s t i o n two, 15  the students who l i k e d language a r t s s a i d t h a t a  language a r t s teacher should g i v e more work and make the work harder, while the same percentage disliked  o f students who  language a r t s f e l t a teacher should g i v e l e s s  homework and make the work e a s i e r .  T h i s d i f f e r e n c e could  a l s o i n d i c a t e l e s s w i l l i n g n e s s to apply and extend themselves  on the p a r t of students who d i s l i k e d  a r t s , and not be an i n d i c a t i o n that they found  language the work  56  more  difficult. While  students from both groups l i k e d c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g  b e t t e r than s p e l l i n g and language, that 57% of the students who that c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g was which they d i d b e s t .  question twelve shows  d i s l i k e d language a r t s  felt  the p a r t of language a r t s at  More students who  f e l t they were b e t t e r at s p e l l i n g .  l i k e d language a r t s  Language was  again a  d i s t a n t t h i r d , with no students i n the d i s l i k e group c l a i m i n g language was  t h e i r best a r e a .  Question s i x t e e n does not support the idea that students who difficult,  disliked  language a r t s found  i t more  and r e s u l t s from the Subject Area Preference  Test d i d not show any r e l a t i o n s h i p between e i t h e r achievement or a b i l i t y ,  and preference f o r language a r t s .  Thus d e s p i t e the p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of some p a r t s of the How  I F e e l About Language A r t s Q u e s t i o n n a i r e that  students who difficult,  disliked  i t more  t h i s i s not a c o n c l u s i o n that can  realistically  drawn.  needed to c l a r i f y One  language a r t s found  this  be  A d d i t i o n a l research i n t h i s area i s ambiguity.  of the t h i n g s that i s e v i d e n t from the r e s u l t s of  t h i s q u e s t i o n n a i r e i s that students viewed  creative  w r i t i n g , s p e l l i n g and language very d i f f e r e n t l y . appears  It  that c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g , s p e l l i n g and language should  probably have been t r e a t e d as separate s u b j e c t s on  the  57  Subject Area Preference T e s t .  This might have r e s u l t e d i n  a c l e a r e r p i c t u r e of students' s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e s . Students g e n e r a l l y appeared with those who  disliked  to l i k e c r e a t i v e  writing,  language a r t s expressing even  g r e a t e r favour f o r c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g than those who language a r t s .  The students i n the d i s l i k e group, who d i d  appear to be more apprehensive much work, may  liked  about d i f f i c u l t work or too  have l i k e d c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g p a r t l y because  i t allows room f o r e x p r e s s i o n with fewer judgements of c o r r e c t or i n c o r r e c t .  U n l i k e s p e l l i n g or language,  which an answer i s e i t h e r c o r r e c t or i n c o r r e c t ,  in  creative  w r i t i n g i s an area i n which students can express i d e a s , even show a sense of humour, and be p r a i s e d f o r these t h i n g s by the teacher without constant  corrections.  Sometimes minor e r r o r s are ignored by the teacher i n favour of encouraging  students' f r e e e x p r e s s i o n .  Thus there  be l e s s t e n s i o n and worry i n v o l v e d i n c r e a t i v e  may  writing.  A l s o , by i t s very nature, c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g might seem l e s s boring than r e p e t i t i v e language worksheets or s p e l l i n g exercises. Although expressed  students from both the l i k e and d i s l i k e group  a p r e f e r e n c e f o r c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g , both groups  chose s p e l l i n g as the most important from language a r t s .  t h i n g they had learned  This i s probably because they must  correct spelling for writing  i n a l l s u b j e c t areas and i n  use  58 daily  life.  The p r a c t i c a l  be most e v i d e n t be t h e h a r d e s t  t o them. area  applications  of s p e l l i n g  might  By t h e same t o k e n , l a n g u a g e  from w h i c h  to perceive  might  a practical  application. Undoubtedly sentence needed  language t o p i c s  s t r u c t u r e must be t a u g h t , b u t p e r h a p s changes a r e  i n the worksheet  is often  approached.  and d r i l l  I f language  more as t h e y o c c u r i n d a i l y and  s t u d e n t s might  application. language  instruction  improve At  find  Perhaps  students could can  s u c h a s p u n c t u a t i o n and  any r a t e ,  consistent  skills  i t easier  into  could  use t h e y m i g h t  creative  their  boring  practical  lessons,  where  language  skills  writing. the r e s u l t s o f t h i s  study hold  and s t r o n g message t o t e a c h e r s :  aspects of the c u r r i c u l u m b o t h c o n t e n t and  be t a u g h t  i n c o r p o r a t e more  writing  strengthening  language  seem l e s s  t o see t h e i r  teachers could  s e e how  their  method by w h i c h  need  methodology.  a  language  examination with respect to  59  Chapter VI Summary  P h y s i c a l Education was found t o be the most popular s u b j e c t ; a r t and mathematics were second; music,  social  s t u d i e s and reading were t h i r d ; and language a r t s was the l e a s t popular s u b j e c t . The breakdown of language a r t s i n t o language, c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g and s p e l l i n g showed that students l i k e d  creative  w r i t i n g best, s p e l l i n g second and language t h i r d .  Spelling  was seen by students to be the most u s e f u l p a r t of language arts.  Most students said they found language a r t s b o r i n g .  The v e r y low p r e f e r e n c e expressed by the students f o r language a r t s seemed to be r e l a t e d to t h e i r negative f e e l i n g s about language, not c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g or s p e l l i n g . Of the v a r i a b l e s i n v e s t i g a t e d  i n r e l a t i o n to s u b j e c t  p r e f e r e n c e , sex and grade l e v e l appear to be the most important.  Pearson product moment c o r r e l a t i o n s showed  grade l e v e l to be s i g n i f i c a n t l y c o r r e l a t e d with p r e f e r e n c e for  a r t and r e a d i n g , and an a n a l y s i s o f v a r i a n c e showed the  grade l e v e l e f f e c t to be s t a t i s t i c a l l y  significant for  r e a d i n g , mathematics, language and a r t .  In each o f these  s u b j e c t s , grade f i v e s expressed the highest p r e f e r e n c e . A l l of the e i g h t school s u b j e c t s s t u d i e d showed some d e c l i n e i n p o p u l a r i t y from grade f i v e to grade seven, with  the continued exception of p h y s i c a l education, which enjoyed  universal popularity.  The a n a l y s i s of v a r i a n c e a l s o showed the sex e f f e c t to be s i g n i f i c a n t  f o r three s u b j e c t s , r e a d i n g , language  and  music, with g i r l s expressing g r e a t e r p r e f e r e n c e s than boys f o r each of these. Achievement, a b i l i t y and to be r e l a t e d The  the teacher d i d not appear  to s u b j e c t p r e f e r e n c e .  r e s u l t s of t h i s study are g e n e r a l l y i n agreement  with previous r e s e a r c h i n the order of subject p r e f e r e n c e s , i n f i n d i n g a g e n e r a l d e c l i n e i n a t t i t u d e to school s u b j e c t s , and  i n f i n d i n g that g i r l s are more f a v o r a b l e than  boys to r e a d i n g , language and music.  Most s t u d i e s  i n v e s t i g a t i n g a p o s s i b l e l i n k between achievement s u b j e c t preference or a t t i t u d e have found r e l a t i o n s h i p or no r e l a t i o n s h i p , and study a l s o c o n f i r m that f i n d i n g .  and  a weak  the r e s u l t s of  this  61 Bibliography  Abram, Marie J .  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"An A n a l y s i s of the P e r s o n a l i t y T r a i t s  E f f e c t i v e Teacher" 1947, pp 662-671.  of the  J o u r n a l of E d u c a t i o n a l Research, 40,  67 Appendix 1 Subject Area  Preferences  Intermediate  Level  D e s c r i p t i o n and R a t i o n a l e The Subject Area Preference two p a r t s :  i n v e n t o r y i s composed o f  the f i r s t presents a l i s t of seven s u b j e c t  areas commonly  taught  i n the upper elementarty  grades and  asks students to i n d i c a t e those which they l i k e and d i s l i k e very much; the second presents the same seven s u b j e c t s and asks students to respond (1) i s i n t e r e s t i n g ; textbooks  "yes" or "no" to i n d i c a t e i f each  (2) i s u s e f u l , and (3) has i n t e r e s t i n g  and other m a t e r i a l s .  The measure provides a  s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d d e s c r i p t i v e index o f students'  preferences  regarding the v a r i o u s s u b j e c t areas and a modicum o f i n f o r m a t i o n regarding student p e r c e p t i o n s of the s t r e n g t h s and  weaknesses of each s u b j e c t as i t i s taught  i n school.  Directions f o r Administration D i r e c t i o n s are provided with the measure and should be read o r a l l y to the students, with ample tme a l l o t t e d f o r student q u e s t i o n s . of the instrument,  Remind the students that on both p a r t s items about which they have no strong  o p i n i o n should be l e f t  blank.  Scoring To o b t a i n , f o r each student, a p r o f i l e of h i s r e l a t i v e p r e f e r e n c e s f o r the seven school s u b j e c t s , a s s i g n p o i n t s to  68 each r e s p o n s e as f o l l o w s : 2 points 1 point 0 points To  obtain  a particular scores  f o r each f o r each  "L" o r " y e s " space l e f t  f o r each  area,  f o r a group o f students f o r  sum t h e i n d i v i d u a l  and d i v i d e by t h e number o f s t u d e n t s  I f more d e t a i l e d i n f o r m a t i o n which s u b j e c t s and  blank  "D" o r "no" r e s p o n s e  an a v e r a g e s c o r e  subject  response  having  are perceived  good  textboks  and o t h e r  responses f o r each s u b j e c t Directions:  area  Show how you f e e l by  i n the group.  i s desired  as b e i n g  students*  regarding  interesting,  paterials,  may be t r e a t e d  useful,  these separately.  about the f o l l o w i n g  subject  marking:  . L by t h o s e D by t h o s e  you l i k e v e r y you d i s l i k e  much  very  Where y o u have no s t r o n g  much  opinion,  leave  the space  blank You  may mark L o r D by a s many s u b j e c t a s y o u w i s h .  Do n o t w r i t e  y o u r name on t h i s  paper.  Reading Arithmetic Social  Studies  ( i . e . h i s t o r y and g e o g r a p h y )  Art Music Physical  Education  (P.E.)  69 Science Language A r t s  I n s t r u c t i o n a l O b j e c t i v e s Exchange Copyright Box  1970  24095  Los Angeles, C a l i f o r n i a  Directions;  90024  Below you w i l l f i n d seven school  each followed by three d e s c r i p t i v e phrases.  subjects, I f you think a  d e s c r i p t i o n i s d e f i n i t e l y true about a s u b j e c t , mark yes next to the d e s c r i p t i v e phrase.  I f you think a d e s c r i p t i o n  i s d e f i n i t e l y not t r u e , mark no on the l i n e . no strong o p i n i o n , leave the space blank.  I f you have  For example:  Subject X yes  i s interesting is useful  no has good textbooks and other m a t e r i a l s 1.  Reading is  interesting  is useful has good textbooks and other m a t e r i a l s  is _is  i n t e r e s t i ng useful  .has good textbooks and other m a t e r i a l s  Social  Studies _is  interesting  .is  useful  .has good textbooks and o t h e r m a t e r i a l s Art _is is  interesting useful  .has good textbooks and oth  er m a t e r i a l s  Music _is  interesting  .is  useful  has good textbooks and other m a t e r i a l ,  Physical —  Education i s  is  interesting useful  .has good equipment and other  material;  Science is  interesting  is  useful  has good textbooks and o t h e r m a t e r i a l s  Language  Arts is  interesting  is  useful  has good textbooks and o t h e r m a t e r i a l s  Appendix How  I feel  about  2  language  arts  Language A r t s i n c l u d e s l a n g u a g e , c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g and spelling. Some o f t h e s e q u e s t i o n s w i l l a s k y o u t o t h i n k about these three things s e p a r a t e l y . When a q u e s t i o n just s a y s L a n g u a g e A r t s i t means t h e g e n e r a l s c h o o l a r e a c a l e d Language A r t s . In these questions think o f language, c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g and s p e l l i n g t o g e t h e r . Please answer each q u e s t i o n as c a r e f u l l y and t r u t h f u l l y a s you c a n . 1.  I f I had t o d e s c r i b e say i t i s  2.  The t h i n g  I like  3.  I f I were  a Language A r t s  4.  The h a r d e s t  5.  I f I could  6.  The m o s t Arts i s  7.  The most b o r i n g  8.  When I w a s y o u n g e r  9.  The m o s t  10.  The t h i n g  Please  best  thing  Language A r t s  about  about  important  Language  thing  part  Language  teacher  change Language  i n one work .  Arts  I have  Arts i s  I would Arts i s  somehow  I would  learned  from  Language  o f Language A r t s i s  I thought Language A r t s  interesting  I would  part  a Language A r t s  o f Language teacher  was  Arts i s  should  n e v e r do i s  check one:  11.  The p a r t o f Language A r t s I l i k e Language Creative Writing  best i s Spelling  12.  T h e p a r t o f L a n g u a g e A r t s I am b e s t Language Creative Writing  ati s Spelling  73 Please put a checkmark that shows whether you agree, d i s a g r e e , or have no strong f e e l i n g s about each o f the f o l l o w i n g sentences. agree 13.  no strong feelings  disagree  Language A r t s i s interesting  (  )  (  )  (  )  Language A r t s i s u s e f u l to me now  (  )  (  )  (  )  15.  Language A r t s w i l l be usef u l t o me when I am o l d e r (  )  (  )  (  )  16.  Language A r t s i s d i f f i c u l t  17.  Language A r t s i s fun  18.  I get a l o t o f Language A r t s homework  19.  I used to l i k e Language A r t s b e t t e r when I was younger  20.  I wish I d i d n ' t have to take Language A r t s  14.  74 Appendix  Dear  3  Principal: I am a b o u t  would  very  t o e m b a r k o n my  much  like  t o have  Master's  students  thesis  i n your  study  and I  school  participate. The  purpose o f the study  preferences the  school  of intermediate curriculum.  questionnaire. determined reasons most  a second  f o r each  that  records.  of  be a d m i n i s t e r e d  A total from each to  be a s k e d  will  scores  information,  feel  the various  seven c l a s s e s  I would  i n your  grades  as o t h e r  like  school.  with  t o be fifteen  teachers. f o r each  and i t i s  c a n be o b t a i n e d  be c o r r e l a t e d  to discover  about  i n question,  as w e l l  been  appears  take  letter  from  school  variables  such  the subject  o f how v a r i o u s  groups  subjects.  of t h i r t y minutes of class  student.  that  by c l a s s r o o m  t o form a p r o f i l e  about  have  attempt  will  to give  of the subjects  results  students  preferences  of the subject  s e x , age and g r a d e w i l l  preference  be done by means o f a  questionnaire  CTBS r e a d i n g This  will  f o r the subjects i n  Each q u e s t i o n n a i r e  Teachers w i l l  as  This  f o r the d i s l i k e  m i n u t e s and w i l l  hoped  students  Once t h e s u b j e c t  unpopular.  student  i s t o determine the  time  i s required  t o use a l l t h e grade  five  75 I f e e l the r e s u l t s of t h i s study could be u s e f u l f o r c u r r i c u l u m planning  and r e v i s i o n , and would be most g r a t e -  f u l f o r your p a r t i c i p a t i o n . Please contact me a t any time and I w i l l be happy to d i s c u s s the study  i n greater  detail.  Thank you very much.  Sincerely,  Deborah  Court  telephone:  1 i  76 Appendix  Dear  Teacher: Thank  y o u s o much f o r t a k i n g  participate about  i n this  30 m i n u t e s  minutes  purpose  the  most.  for  this  the  be  which  first  will  i n such  will  will  grades  used  tabulated  a  will  i s most  The  ten minutes f o r  the instructions  them w i t h  t o do.  your  students to  second  come i n t w o o r t h r e e w e e k s ,  will  f o r you t o administer.  f o r your  r e c e n t CTBS R e a d i n g  appreciated.  that  take only  take the additional  letter  be  I t spurpose  P l e a s e go o v e r  o r twenty minutes  you w i l l  most  follow.  and then d i s c u s s  which  subjects  low regard.  questionnaire  first,  fifteen  have been  r e a s o n s why t h e s u b j e c t  i s held  approximate their  fifteen  s t u d e n t s l i k e and d i s l i k e  When t h e s e r e s u l t s  questionnaire  questionnaire,  If  i s to discover  intermediate  s u r e t h e y u n d e r s t a n d what  take  time required i s  time.  students t o complete.  yourself  time t o  s t u d e n t s and a n o t h e r  of the study  purpose.  be t o d i s c o v e r  The  class  The S u b j e c t A r e a P r e f e r e n c e T e s t w i l l  short  disliked  your  The t o t a l  from your  the curriculum  second  study.  o r so o f your  The in  4  time t o f i l l  in  students, as w e l l  scores,  i tw i l l  as  be much  77  S t r i c t c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y w i l l be observed. or  t e a c h e r s ' names w i l l ever be used.  No students'  I t i s necessary to  i d e n t i f y students by number, though, f o r purposes of data analysis.  Thus each student q u e s t i o n n a i r e i s marked at the  lower r i g h t hand corner with a number.  T h i s number  corresponds to a student's number on your class l i s t .  Sheet number one,  alphabetical  in a hypothetical class,  would go to student Anderson, and sheet number 28 would go to student  Zaborsky.  Put your completed  answer sheets i n the envelope 'and  r e t u r n them to the o f f i c e , where they w i l l be picked R e s u l t s of the study w i l l be a v a i l a b l e when the r e p o r t i s completed.  I hope that knowledge gained  up. final  through  t h i s study might prove u s e f u l i n c u r r i c u l u m planning and revision. Again, thank you.  Sincerely,  Deborah Court UBC  Master's candidate and  teacher at Diefenbaker School  78 Appendix 5  Please give a grade of A, B, C, D o r F f o r each Subject (except CTBS).  Pupil No. Reading 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18  Math  Soc.  Sci.  Art  Music  PE  CTBS Reading  Pupil No. 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35  Reading  Math  Soc.  Sci.  Art  Music  PE  CTBS Reading  80 Appendix 6  Dear Teacher: The q u e s t i o n n a i r e f i l l e d  out by students r e c e n t l y  showed Language A r t s to be the l e a s t popular  subject.  The  enclosed q u e s t i o n n a i r e w i l l t r y to uncover some reasons f o r this dislike. p a r t of t h i s  Thank you f o r your p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the l a s t study.  I would l i k e very much to t a b u l a t e these r e s u l t s s p r i n g break, so I hope you w i l l be able to f i n d  over  the time  to administer t h i s q u e s t i o n n a i r e by Thursday, March 24th. Envelopes w i l l be picked up at the o f f i c e . Enclosed  i s a l i s t o f your c l a s s r e s u l t s f o r the  Subject Area Preference most to l e a s t  Test.  Subjects are l i s t e d  popular.  Thanks again f o r a l l your h e l p .  Sincerely  Deborah  Court  from  

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