Understanding How Undergraduate Students Perceive Biologists

Authors: 

Jalpa Patel, Madison Kraus, Shais Raza, Dr. Andrea Bierema

This study focuses on how undergraduate students (n = 25) perceive biologists before and after taking an introductory organismal biology course. During the first and last week of the course, we asked the students to draw what they imagine a biologist does at work. We created a coding scheme based on previous published findings on students’ perceptions of scientists and modified it to better suit the standards of our observations. We removed student names and pretest/posttest information from all drawings and randomly ordered the drawings (50 drawings total) before coding. Four coders coded four drawings collaboratively and then coded five drawings independently, reaching intercoder reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.96). Then three of the four coders evaluated the remaining drawings. Using the refined coding scheme and frequency analysis, we determined changes from pretest to posttest in the prevalence of certain characteristics such as an increase in the presence of animals or female scientists, and a decrease in scientists wearing eyeglasses or lab coats. Overall, this study suggests that the teaching team and the style of the course may influence stereotyping among the scientific community.

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Submitted by Jalpa Patel on