Models of Competence and Opportunities to Learn at Home
Various learning opportunities are available at home. According to Bransford et al. (2000), during an academic year of 180 school days and 6.5 h per school day, a typical American child spends 53% of time at home and in the community, 33% sleeping, and only 14% in schools. From watching television at home to visiting a science museum with family, students learn science at all times. These types of learning opportunities have been termed free-choice learning (Falk, 2001). However, these learning opportunities vary from family to family. Which learning opportunities at home may help with student attainment of competence? What variables representing these learning opportunities are significant predictors of student attainment of competence? These are questions the present chapter will answer.
As a part of the student achievement survey, NAEP also collects information on student family background and home environment deemed relevant to students' science achievement. The questions pertain to student activities and resources at home and are related to parents' education; language spoken at home; available books, magazines, and newspapers; time spent on watching television/video; extra reading not connected to school; and parents' employment status. Altogether, there are 20 such questions in the 1996 4th- and 8th-grade science surveys. Table 4.1 presents sample NAEP background questions; for a complete list of the 20 questions please refer to Appendix B.
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