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An Exploratory Study of Student Attitudes in the Primary Grades

Cohen, Sandra R
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Attitude Measures, Elementary School Students, Interviews, School Attitudes, Student Attitudes


An exploratory study was carried out to investigate the feasibility of using a structured projective interview to study the attitudes that children in the primary grades have about school and about teachers. One hundred and twelve first- and second-graders in seven schools were shown a series of specially prepared sketches depicting teacher-child or child-child interaction in the classroom; they were asked to tell what had led up to the pictured situation or what would happen next. Items that were believed to be tapping aspects of the same underlying attitudes generally showed modest but significant correlations with each other and zero correlation with items believed to be unrelated. Responses to items did not differ according to the sex, grade, or socioeconomic background of the respondent. However, children in an urban slum school gave a greater number of responses expressing violence than did children in other schools. Children showed a high degree of responsiveness to the interview with virtually no refusals to respond; however, in many cases, skilled and patient interviewing was needed to obtain complete protocols. It was concluded that while a technique of this type probably cannot presently be considered suitable for mass administration as part of large-scale evaluation programs, its further development as a research tool may be warranted.

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