Science achievement gaps study recognized

Penn State researchers Paul Morgan, CEDR director and professor of education, and Marianne Hillemeier, professor of health policy and administration and demography, and their colleague George Farkas, professor of education at University of California Irvine, received the Distinguished Research Award in Human Development from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for their study of science achievement gaps in children. The AERA will present the award this coming April.

Their study was also cited by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPD) for their national survey of parental views of children’s science learning. The survey was conducted to discover better methods for aiding lower-resourced families in teaching their children about science. The survey has been featured by the CPD, the Washington Post, and by the Aspen Institute.

In the study, the researchers determined which mechanisms and factors influence science achievement gaps in U.S. elementary and middle school students. Some factors considered were children’s general knowledge, mathematic ability, behavioral self-regulation, and sociodemographics to predict their future science knowledge and success. The findings suggest that children who enter kindergarten with little understanding of science go on to first grade still behind in this area and continue this pattern through eighth grade. Morgan, Hillemeier, and Farkas concluded that the persistence of knowledge gaps may be prevented by thorough interventions administered to kindergarten children.

The full study can be found here.

The researchers recieved support from Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute.