A study by the Australian Academy of Science shows Australian high school students have abandoned science in a big way in the past couple of decades.
There is already evidence the declining appetite for science is having a negative impact, and there is no sign the downward trend will end.
Almost half of the Y8 interview sample aspired to the same job as a family member or close family friend.
Daily reinforcement of some career paths as more ‘natural’ or ‘thinkable’ for particular children e.g. Girls and nurturing professions (“They think I’d be great with children because I help my sister when she’s sad and I like play with her a lot”, Celina)
Mostly middle‐class families with high quality science capital Science capital: science‐related qualifications, knowledge, interest, literacy and contacts
Science as peripheral to everyday lives (families with ‘benign’ or ambivalent attitudes to science) “They never talk about science” (Jack, Black African boy)
“I suppose in everyday life you don’t really get that much to do with science” (Jane2, white working‐class mother)
• Lack of awareness of where science can lead
Science qualifications only seen to lead to: Scientist, science teacher, doctor
Little awareness that science qualifications are transferable and potentially useful for a wide range of careers.
2. Popular views of science as ‘brainy’
Over 80% of Y6 and Y8 see scientists as ‘brainy’
Science careers as only for the exceptional few
She said ‘oh, you have to be really clever [to study science], you have to be a geek’... She says ‘I’m not clever enough to be good at science
3. Science careers seen as male‐ dominated
Its always seen as … geeky men
“Its not very girly ... its not a very sexy job, its not glamorous
“We’re kind of the nerds
They had an after school science club and she said ‘I’m not going because it’s all boys’. I said well you should at least go along and see if you enjoy it. She went twice and then she stopped going because it was all boys and she had no girls to talk to.
The findings confirm the role of teachers in influencing students’ interests to learn a particular subject. This is consistent with the study by Athanasou, J.A. and Petoumenos, K. (1998) which showed that teachers were able to influence the motivation of students via specific aspects of their teaching but mainly through their orientation to the student. On the other hand, some students indicated that they dislike certain subjects because they were disappointed by their teachers.
5. Availability of teaching and learning materials was also mentioned as an essential factor in determining students’ interests in the subject.
For instance there is no physics textbook to the extent that even the teacher borrows a book from the students. Also, our science laboratory lacks the facilities that would allow us to conduct experiments. We don’t do practical seriously, we are only swindling.
The students highlighted that lack of textbooks, laboratory facilities and science chemicals were among the factors that made them dislike the respective subjects. The literature maintains that the school plays a significant role when it comes to issues related to students’ subject choice. The availability of resources in schools dictates students’ choice of particular subjects . It can therefore be inferred that resources availability in schools contributes to students’ interests in a subject.
Make STEM aspirations ‘thinkable’ for all
– More diverse ‘non‐A Level’ post‐16 routes in science and maths
– Challenge perceptions of science as only for ‘clever’ (and masculine)
– Promote a vision of ‘science for all’ • Redistribution of