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Gottfried, A. E., Preston, K. S. J., Gottfried, A. W., Oliver, P. H., Delany, D. E., & Ibrahim, S. M. (2016) Pathways from parental stimulation of children’s curiosity to high school science course accomplishments and science career interest and skill, International Journal of Science Education, 38:12, 1972-1995, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2016.1220690

Abstract

Curiosity is fundamental to scientific inquiry and pursuance. Parents are important in encouraging children’s involvement in science.This longitudinal study examined pathways from parental stimulation of children’s curiosity per se to their science acquisition (SA). A latent variable of SA was indicated by the inter-related variables of high school science course accomplishments, career interest, and skill. A conceptual model investigated parental stimulation of children’s curiosity as related to SA via science intrinsic motivation and science achievement. Parental stimulation of curiosity at age 8 years comprised exposing children to new experiences, promoting curiosity, encouraging asking questions, and taking children to a museum. Intrinsic motivation was measured at ages 9, 10, and 13 years, and achievement at ages 9, 10, and 11 years. Structural equation modelling was used for analyses. Controlling for socio-economic status, parental stimulation of curiosity bore positive and significant relations to science intrinsic motivation and achievement, which in turn related to SA. Gender neither related to stimulation of curiosity nor contributed to the model. Findings highlight the importance of parental stimulation of children’s curiosity in facilitating trajectories into science, and relevance to science education is discussed.

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