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Benő Csapó: Students' attitudes towards school subjects

Assessing students' attitudes is receiving an increasing attention in national and international surveys both as an affective outcome of schooling and as a factor influencing cognitive achievements. This paper has a double aim: (1) to reveal the relationships between students' attitudes towards learning the main school subjects and some other key variables of schooling in the framework of a large-scale survey; and (2) to document the present state of attitudes in a benchmark-type manner to establish a reference point for later assessments. The samples for the study were drawn form 147 schools in Hungary in a representative way. Four age groups, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th grade students were assessed with the same instruments. Attitudes were measured on a five-point scale (values: dislike a lot, dislike, indifferent, like, like a lot). The results of the survey show that attitudes in general gradually decrease by age. School subjects fall into two groups: art, foreign language, literature, history, biology and geography are in the group that students like, while grammar, mathematics, chemistry and physics are in the less liked group. The case of chemistry and physics seem problematic, as the attitudes in these cases drop sharply and at the 11th grade they are in the disliked zone. Girls usually like most subjects better. Physics is the only exception preferred more by boys. Slight regional differences were found and the correlations with parents' education were small. Other correlations indicate that attitudes are mostly independent from students' knowledge and reasoning skills. The cluster analysis of attitudes revealed two strongly associated groups of subjects: literature, grammar, history and foreign language are highly correlated in one cluster while mathematics, physics and chemistry form another.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 100. Number 3. 343-366. (2000)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Department of Education, University of Szeged, H-6722 Szeged, Petőfi sgt. 30-34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia