Using Project-Based Data in Physics to Examine Television Viewing in Relation to Student Performance in Science
Journal of Science Education and Technology (online first publication)
Mass media, particularly television, influence public conceptions and attitudes toward learning science. The discovery of an original method that does not rely on self-reported viewing habits to measure the impact of television on students’ performance in science arose from a study of a unit on electricity in a Physics course. In determining the number of television sets at home and the number of hours of operation, data emerged that allowed an investigation of associations between each of these variables and student performance in physics. A negative impact on performance was found in its consistent decrease as both the number of sets and the time the sets are on increase. These results provide dramatic independent confirmation of the negative impact of television viewing on achievement determined through meta-analysis of many studies, and are also consistent with those in the literature at large, particularly from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Furthermore, the totally ‘blind’ participation of the subjects lends a degree of authenticity rarely found in a classically designed study. The findings impact scientific literacy, since performance in science and conceptions of science and scientists, are all inextricably linked.