Empowering Teachers to Enhance Adolescents' Motivation for Science


The primary research findings to be diffused come from the Science-in-the-Moment Project (SciMo, HRD-0827526). The SciMo project documented the daily experience and activities of male and female students in high school science courses by gathering data through classroom observation, video, surveys, interviews, and Experience Sampling – a data collection method in which students provided multiple reports of their subjective experience in science in response to vibrating pagers which signaled them during class.

Data illuminated systematic gender differences in the lived experience of students in science class, both in terms of students’ internal reactions to specific learning situations and in the quality of their daily interactions with their science teachers. Several cognitive and affective factors presumed to be critical motivational processes (e.g., challenge, relevance, goal orientation, ability beliefs) operated differently for male compared to female students, and suggest a motivational disadvantage for females. Analysis of classroom video data reveals continued bias against females. The proposed project will disseminate critical information learned from SciMo and related projects about students’ motivational processes in science in a way that is accessible, practical, usable by a variety of stakeholders, and empowering to educators at multiple levels in the education system. 

E-TEAMS Project Team

Jennifer A. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at Northern Illinois University. She teaches courses in academic motivation and research design. She has published on academic motivation and student engagement. Her recent research focuses on exploring gender differences in students’ motivational processes in high school science. She is Principal Investigator for the SciMo Project, the research to be disseminated in this project. She has presented to academic and practitioner audiences.  Dr. Schmidt is a founder and serves on the steering committee of the Collaborative on Early Adolescence (CEA) at Northern Illinois University.

Lee Shumow is a Distinguished Teaching Professor at Northern Illinois University where she teaches adolescent learning and development to secondary teacher certification candidates. She was a senior researcher on the SciMo Project and has been active in the analyses, interpretation, and presentation of the data. Her research interests include teacher education and parental influences on learning.  She has published articles on students’ mathematics and science learning and has also developed educational materials including video for teacher educators, parents, and practitioners. Dr. Shumow has conducted numerous workshops for teachers. She has received awards for both her teaching and her school partnership work and is a founder and serves on the steering committee of the Collaborative on Early Adolescence (CEA) at Northern Illinois University.