Science achievement as a criterion for judging the effectiveness of home schooling, Christian schooling, and public schooling

Robert Glenn Molsbee

Abstract

This study was developed to compare the effectiveness of science instruction received by children attending public, Christian, and home schools. Science achievement scores were of primary concern due to their national decline in the past three decades. The correlation of language and mathematics achievement scores, and sociability to science achievement were also examined. In addition, the relationship between the gender of the student and their science achievement was investigated. One hundred thirteen seventh and eighth grade students attending these three types of school from the three coastal counties of Mississippi participated in the study during the spring of 1996. Three instruments were used. The Stanford Achievement Test, 8th edition, Form J was used to obtain science, language, and mathematics achievement scores. Aptitude was determined using the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, 6th edition. Sociability was evaluated using the California Psychological Inventory, 1986 revised edition. An interview protocol was developed to collect qualitative information on sociability and science teaching methodology used in the three school types. Data analysis showed that home school students scored significantly higher in science achievement than public and Christian school students. There were no significant differences in the scores on mathematics and sociability. The language scores of the home and the public school students were significantly higher than those from the Christian school. A significant interaction was seen between students' scores in mathematics and gender. In the public school, female students scored higher in mathematics achievement than males; whereas, in Christian and home schools, males scored higher than females. Qualitative data from the interview corroborated the results of the California Psychological Inventory that school type does not affect sociability. Furthermore, the results of this study indicated that students perceived the teacher to be the locus of control in learning, and the textbook/printed material to be the primary learning tool. Students expressed their preference for hands-on activities, which were seldom used for science instruction in these three school types.