Turkish Elementary School Students` Images of Scientists

Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 32, pp,83-100/ 2008
Turkish Elementary School Students’
Images of Scientists
Osman Nafiz Kaya*
Alev Doğan**
Erdinç Öcal***
Suggested Citation:
Kaya, O. N., Doğan, A. & Öcal, E. (2008). Turkish elementary school students’ images of
scientists. Egitim Arastirmalari-Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 32, 83-100.
Problem Statement: Since 1957 there has been a growing body of research
related to how students perceive scientists. Results of these studies show
that many students perceive scientists as an old male with eyeglasses,
wearing a lab coat, and performing dangerous laboratory experiments.
This kind of perception may negatively affect students’ understanding of
science, their tendency of having a science-related career and becoming a
scientist. Students’ understanding of how scientific knowledge is
constructed and their concepts of nature of science have just been added to
the major goals of science and technology education in the last elementary
education reform carried out in Turkey. Accordingly, Turkish elementary
school students (K-8) first need to have an accurate image of scientists in
order to acheive these new educational goals.
Purpose of Study: The aim of this study was to determine Turkish middle
grade students’ images of scientists and how students’ perceptions differed
with respect to the grade levels.
Methods: This research was a qualitative study. The population of the
study was 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in Ankara in the 2005-2006
academic year. The sample for this study consisted of 304 students who
were randomly selected from four public schools. As a data collection tool,
the Draw-a-Scientist Test (DAST) was used.
Findings and Results: Analyses of the students’ drawings indicated that
most of the students had a stereotypical male scientist image with
eyeglasses, wearing lab coats: individuals who work in laboratories. This
image of the scientist was parallel to the students’ stereotypical images of
scientists in the previous studies. However, there was a noticeable
difference between the results of this study and the earlier studies,
including some students’ drawing scientists with smiling faces, wearing
ties, and working in gardens. The results of the study also revealed that
there were some differences in regard to the grade levels. The reasons for
PhD, Fırat University Faculty of Education, [email protected]
Associate Prof. Dr., Gazi University Gazi Faculty of Education, [email protected]
*** PhD candidate, Gazi University Institute of Educational Sciences, [email protected]
Eurasian Journal of Educational Research
the students’ images, which are incorrect or incomplete in many respects,
may be that they are getting wrong information through the mass media,
particularly from TV programs, and missing the explicit educational goals
focusing on developing students’ images of scientists in Turkish science
curriculum, and of the needed teaching-learning environment.
Recommendations: Reasons for students’ images of scientists should be
investigated. Also, there is a need to carry out studies to help elementary
school students develop an accurate image of scientists involving science
and technology education.
Keywords: Scientist, students’ images of scientists, elementary school
students, elementary science education.