Cognitive and Affective Influences on Science Anxiety in a Science Core-text General Education Course in Hong Kong
Wan Heng Sandy Hoi, Wing Hung Wong, Kam Moon Pang and Vitrierat Sophia Ng
Science anxiety hinders students from effective scientific literacy and confident application of scientific knowledge to solve problems in life and academic situations. Science anxiety commonly arises when students take science or science-related general education courses. “In Dialogue with Nature” is a compulsory general education course for undergraduates of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. It encourages students to engage in reading science classics and discussion about science-related issues, aiming at building up confidence in seeing things from scientific perspectives. Individuals’ cognitive competencies and perceptual sets could both affect the information to which they attend. Teachers should thus pay as much attention to students’ perception of competence as to actual competence. Their perception of competence may more accurately predict students’ motivation and future academic choices. A tailor-made questionnaire was developed to evaluate how science anxiety is related to students’ understanding of Nature of Science (NOS) (cognitive) and their self-efficacy towards this course (affective). The preliminary results of pre- and post- course surveys showed that students’ understanding of NOS and their self-efficacy towards the course increased significantly after taking the course, while their anxiety towards science had no significant change. In addition, regression analysis revealed that students’ science anxiety is correlated to course self-efficacy and their number of science courses studied in secondary school, but not correlated to understanding of NOS. This study thus provides insights into an effective teaching and learning strategy in general education courses.