Attitude Boost: A multimedia curriculum to improve attitudes toward science

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Department of Health and Human Services
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Phase I
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The purpose of this Fast Track SBIR is to develop and evaluate a series of curriculum supplements, entitled Attitude Boost, which aims to improve students' positive attitudes toward science, with the goal, in turn, of i mproving scientific literacy and academic performance on science subjects, particularly those related to drug abuse education and prevention. Attitude Boost will be theoretically-based, standards-driven multimedia product that will include a student CD-ROM with at least five interactive self-paced modules on topics like the scientific method and its applicability to daily tasks and the work of scientists and its value to society. A teacher implementation guide will provide background information on the impa ct of attitudes on science performance and later outcomes, methods for implementing the curriculum supplement in the classroom, links between Attitude Boost and other science curricula, and approaches for assessing student outcomes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has invested in the development of many public domain curricula on the science of drug abuse, particularly the Brain Power series, in large measure because promoting science literacy is a core component of its mission. Indeed, individ ual science literacy is linked with healthy decision making about drug use and other health topics. It is also essential that the general public understands the effects of drugs on the brain and body in order to effectively address issues of abuse, addicti on, and treatment in communities. Effective science education also promotes a new generation of productive researchers in science fields and U.S. competitiveness in research and development. Attitudes toward science have been found to be a strong predictor of achievement, but attitudes generally decline during late elementary school. Attitude Boost will link with NIDA's other science education curricula to improve student performance on these specifically, as well as science writ large. In Phase I, KDHRC wi ll develop a prototype product and evaluate its effectiveness in changing student knowledge and improving attitudes. In Phase II, KDHRC will complete product development and conduct a controlled quasi-experimental evaluation to explore these research quest ions: 1) To what extent does completion of the Attitude Boost CD-ROM prior to participating in a science education curriculum result in better performance on that curriculum? 2) To what extent are there age, gender, ethnic/racial or other differences in re sponses to the Attitude Boost materials? KDHRC proposes a Fast Track because our project partners, advisory board, commercialization partners, and project procedures are in place, and there is an unmet need in the market for this product. Following product completion and evaluation, the Attitude Boost curriculum supplements will be marketed to schools nationwide. The results of the evaluation will be disseminated through the academic literature and practitioner-oriented briefs to add to knowledge about opti mization of science attitudes and performance. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE It is critically important for people to be scientifically literate in order to make fully informed medical, political, economic, and social decisions concerning individual and societal welfare. Attitudes toward science generally begin to decline in late elementary school, and science performance and aptitude suffers in turn. Therefore, the objective of the Attitude Boost project is to develop easy-to-implement curriculum supplements to improve student attitudes toward science, thereby increasing scientific literacy.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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