This study explored the relationship of student demographics to teaching method in Kentucky’s seventh grade science classrooms for 1997-98, based on performance assessment data (student level N = 21,499; school level N = 264). Students’ perceptions of seven instructional strategies from the KIRIS student questionnaires were placed into three groups: traditional, inquiry-based, and computer. At the student level, these strategies were regressed on race, gender, free/reduced lunch, urbanity of the district, Appalachian status, and Educational Service Region. At the school level, the three approaches were regressed on aggregate school data for these same variables. Findings indicated that demographic factors do affect teachers’ instructional strategies. Student-level results demonstrated numerous small but statistically significant influences on all three instructional approaches. Nearly all demographic effects disappeared when examined at the school level. The strongest finding was that schools with higher percentages of free/reduced lunch students reported more computer usage. Less computer use was reported for schools with more female students. Findings are discussed in light of science instruction, computers, and technological development for the rural south.

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