DAST and Student Perceptions of Scientists: Experiences of Middle School-Aged Girls in an Outdoor Learning Experience

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2023-08

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Abstract

There is limited information regarding girls’ perceptions of scientists for middle school-aged girls participating in a multiday outdoor learning experience (OLE). This study sought to document student perceptions of scientists in an OLE environment by utilizing the DAST to examine perceptions before and after an OLE focused on inquiry-based research activities in an outdoor learning setting. Twenty girls were asked in a pre- and post- experience test to explore perceptions changes as a result of participating in a three-day residential outdoor learning experience. The results indicated that there was a decrease in stereotypical perceptions following the OLE. While the DAST did indicate a decrease in stereotypical images, it did not measure items specific to the OLE, such as students drawing more scientists in outdoor settings in the post-experience measurement. Therefore, it is suggested that the codes “working outdoors” and “study or observe natural settings or natural materials (i.e., plants, animals, water sources, rocks, stars, etc.)” be incorporated into a revised section of the DAST rubric that focus specifically on outdoor education to better document perceptions that are unique to an OLE. This article concludes with recommendations for additional studies with different age groups and genders to determine if future participants would have similar reductions in stereotypical perceptions and increases in student perceptions of scientists working outdoors.

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Keywords

perceptions of scientists, nature, science, Draw-A-Scientist Test, outdoor education

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