Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Sex instruction--Iowa; High school students--Iowa--Attitudes; High school students--Attitudes; Sex instruction; Sex instruction for youth; Iowa;


The purpose of this study was to investigate high school students' knowledge and attitudes pertaining to sex education courses. Specifically, the following questions were posed relative to the student's sex and his/her sex education background (in school):

1. How accurately will senior high school students match a given list of eleven sex topics with their respective standard definitions as stated in The Encyclopedia of Sexual Behavior? 2. Given a list of sex topics and a second list of possible sources of information, what "first" sources of sex information will most frequently be identified by senior high school students? 3. To what extent do senior high school students agree (or disagree) with expressed public opinion regarding sex education courses? 4. What do senior high school students suggest could or should be done on the part of parents or the schools to improve sex education "instruction"?

A four-part questionnaire designed by this researcher was administered to a selected group of 334 students, 158 males and 176 females, with various sex education backgrounds, attending their junior or senior years in three Iowa high schools. Significant findings include:

1. Individuals who had had sex education courses reflected a greater number of correct matchings of terms with their definitions than those who had not had sex education. 2. When responses of males and females having had sex education courses were compared, females (Fi) received higher percentages of accuracy in matching the terms with their definitions on each of the eleven terms. 3. The effects of parents and school were not as great as those of peers with respect to "initial sources" of sex information. 4. School was the most frequently cited initial source of sex information for only females who had had sex education courses; whereas, peers were the most frequently cited reference for females and males who had not had sex education courses and males who had had sex education courses. 5. Although there was a range in attitudes, there appeared to be no significant difference in attitudes between groups. 6. More students who had had sex education courses were receptive to expressing their views on the items relating to sex education courses than were those who had not taken sex education courses. 7. Students are receptive to sex education course offerings. 8. Students reflected upon the possibility of sex education being a cooperative effort between parents and schools.

In conclusion, there are no easy answers to the problems involving the sex education dilemma. An awareness of students' "first" sources of sex information, the accuracy of their information, and their attitudes regarding sex education programs may allow educators and parents insights. These insights may facilitate advances in assisting today's youth to achieve self-understanding and self-direction necessary to make the maximum adjustment into school, homes, and community by incorporating information relevant to sex.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education


Department of School Administration and Personnel Services

First Advisor

Audrey L. Smith


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Date Original


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