Background: Capturing measures of students’ attitudes toward science has long been a focus within the field of science education. The resulting interest has led to the development of many instruments over the years. There is considerable disagreement about how attitudes should be measured, and especially whether students’ attitudes toward science can or should be measured unidimensionally, or whether separate attitude dimensions or subscales should be considered. When it is agreed upon that the attitudes toward science construct should be measured along separate subscales, there is no consensus about which subscales should be used. Methods: A streamlined version of the modified Attitudes Towards Science Inventory (mATSI), a widely used science measurement instrument, was validated for a more diverse sample as compared to the original study (Weinburgh and Steele in Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 6:87–94, 2000). The analytical approach used factor analyses and longitudinal measurement invariance. The study used a sample of 2016 self-reported responses from 6 and 7th grade students. The factor analysis elucidated the factor structure of students’ attitudes toward science, and some modifications were made in accordance with the results. Measurement invariance analysis was used to confirm the stability of the measure. Results: Our results support that the subscales, anxiety toward science and value and enjoyment of science, are two factors and stable over time. Conclusions: Our results suggest that our proposed modified factor structure for students’ attitudes toward science is reliable, valid, and appropriate for use in longitudinal studies. This study and its resulting streamlined mATSI survey could be of value to those interested in studying student engagement and measuring middle-school students' attitudes toward science.
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