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Global Science Forum Activity on DECLINING INTEREST IN SCIENCE STUDIES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE Global Science Forum Objectives and Preliminary Report on the.

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Presentation on theme: "Global Science Forum Activity on DECLINING INTEREST IN SCIENCE STUDIES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE Global Science Forum Objectives and Preliminary Report on the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Global Science Forum Activity on DECLINING INTEREST IN SCIENCE STUDIES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE Global Science Forum Objectives and Preliminary Report on the Qualitative Analysis Dr. Frédéric Sgard OECD Global Science Forum Secretariat

2 Global Science Forum Activity on DECLINING INTEREST IN SCIENCE STUDIES AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE Global Science Forum The apparent decline in student enrolments in S&T curricula, a subject of concern for many OECD countries A broad and complex problem that may impact the development of knowledge-based economies A Global Science Forum initiative started in 2003, in co-operation with other OECD Directorates (Statistics, Education…) An issue highlighted as a priority at the OECD meeting of science ministers in January 2004 within the general topic of human resources for S&T

3 Global Science Forum The OECD Global Science Forum (formerly the Megascience Forum) : A venue for meetings of senior science policy officials of OECD countries. Its goal: identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research by: Exploring opportunities for new or enhanced international co-operation in selected scientific areas. Defining international frameworks for vital national or regional science policy decisions. Addressing the scientific dimensions of issues of global concern. Some recent activities: The implementation of an International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility A report on Future Large Programmes and Projects in Astronomy and Astrophysics Workshops on Grid computing and Earthquake science A study on the Declining Interest in Science Studies Among Young People

4 Global Science Forum Schedule and participants Decided at the Global Science Forum meeting in July 2003 Steering Committee established at the end of 2003 to determine a precise goal and programme of work Chairman: Prof. Jean-Jacques DUBY Composition: Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Finland; France; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; USA Steering Committee report to the GSF in July 2004 Working Group set up in September 2004 Chairman: Prof. Sjoerd E. WENDELAAR BONGA Composition: Australia; Belgium; Canada; Denmark; European Commission; Finland; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Sweden; USA

5 Global Science Forum Three questions: 1. What are the amplitude and characteristics of the decline ? Quantitative analysis of statistical data and trends in selected countries (carried out by Laudeline Auriol, OECD Secretariat) 2. Which factors contribute to the decline ? Qualitative analysis of the reasons for the decline 3.What are the possible remedies ? Review of solutions undertaken at national levels Objective : To understand the extent of the decline, the causes, and possible remedies

6 Global Science Forum Qualitative study on causes and solutions: Methodology  Key issues identified by the Steering Committee  An enlarged Working Group set up to carry out, together with a consultant, Valérie Hemmo, an in-depth analysis  Two subgroups, on causes and solutions, created to identify  the major factors that impact on student’s choice,  national action plans  remedies that have been experimented  lessons learned and information needed  A preliminary integrative analysis, linking quantitative data, causes and solutions, will be presented for discussion at a conference on November 2005, in Amsterdam

7 Global Science Forum Qualitative study on causes and solutions Key issues identified by the Steering Committee: 1.Image of science and scientists 2.Science and technology careers 3.Science education and curricula 4.Teacher training, qualification and development 5.Issues related to gender and ethnic/cultural minorities

8 Global Science Forum The general context:  New / emerging factors (from mid 90’s) In society: - Overall expansion of tertiary education - Broad diversification of possible studies (competition with traditional curricula) - Fluctuations in the job market, job insecurity In science and technology: - Mediatisation of funding and job difficulties - Negative developments: - Are S&T going too far? (cloning, GMOs…) - S&T side effects (global warming, Mad cow disease…)

9 Global Science Forum Special emphasis in the analysis on:  Early stages of the process  When action may have higher and longer lasting impact: actions on intrinsic motivations (“taste” for science) are often more efficient than on extrinsic motivations (job is useful, well paid…)  Importance of the different key orientation steps within the educational process  What is local and what is global  Identification of universal causes as well as cultural differences  What is “actionable”  Factors upon which governments may act effectively

10 Global Science Forum Factors contributing to the decline (1) Image of science and scientists  Young people still have a positive image of Science and of scientists in most countries (despite more cautiousness on specific issues), but  The social position of scientists has weakened in developed countries  Pupils have a poor knowledge of science-related professions  The perception that young people have of scientists and technologists lifestyle is not attractive to them  Media sometimes play a negative role when portraying science or scientists

11 Global Science Forum S&T Careers  Science-related careers remain a choice recommended by parents, but  Incomes in S&T careers are often perceived as too low relative to the amount of work and difficulty of the studies required  Young people are unaware of the range of career opportunities opened by science studies  Job security for S&T professions has decreased over recent years, particularly in early stages of the career, in some countries with high unemployment rates  The professional integration process for young scientists is long and difficult in academia, which is still perceived as the gold-standard for scientifically-trained students Factors contributing to the decline (2)

12 Global Science Forum Science education and curricula  In primary school, pupils often have a strong curiosity for science items, but courses often focus on knowledge and facts rather than on understanding. Teachers may also not be comfortable with science subject and with hands-on situations  At lower secondary school level, pupils need to feel the relevance of the subject to their own world. This is far from being always the case, and what is taught is often disconnected from cutting edge science.  Maths and S&T are generally considered as difficult subjects and there seems to exist a general perception that it is much more difficult to obtain good grades in MST subjects than in other subjects.  At upper secondary and tertiary levels, S&T subjects have to compete with new, “sexier”, subjects. Furthermore, students prefer courses that open access to the job market at various stages, which is not the case for some of the S&T traditional curricula Factors contributing to the decline (3)

13 Global Science Forum Teacher training, qualification and development  In some countries, S&T teachers lack initial S&T training. That is more generally the case for primary education but may also be the case for secondary education.  S&T teacher position may be considered as less attractive than other professions opened for S&T-trained people.  Lack of adequate continuous training may have a stronger effect on S&T as these fields change particularly quickly  Some teachers lack confidence in their knowledge of S&T which can impair their ability to teach those subjects Factors contributing to the decline (4)

14 Global Science Forum Gender and minorities issues  Female students, as well as students from various cultural or ethnical minorities, often suffer from stereotypes in relation to external (parents, teacher, society…) expectations, which do not favour S&T studies  Female or minorities students lack role models (famous scientists, family members etc…) to which they can identify  S&T careers are often perceived by girls as incompatible with a harmonious family life  S&T students from minorities are culturally isolated in schools (they lack peer groups to integrate) and can be victimised by their own negative perception of hard work and scientific achievement Factors contributing to the decline (5)

15 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice  Attitude towards science remains positive but interest in learning about science is usually less important in developed countries compared to developing countries  Tertiary studies and future careers are often based upon their perceived interest (“passion/pleasure factor”) by secondary school students (hence the importance of “intrinsic” motivation)  Young people’s vision of S&T professionals is stereotyped, but actually meeting professionals can have a strong impact on career choices  Poor opinions towards science studies (and dropping out) are often linked to negative pedagogical experience

16 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice SAS study, Svein Sjøberg, 2002

17 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice CCSTI study, France, 2004

18 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice SAS study, Svein Sjøberg, 2002

19 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice ROSE study, Svein Sjøberg, 2004

20 Global Science Forum What young peoples say about their choice SAS study, Svein Sjøberg, 2002

21 Global Science Forum Remedies: Learning from experiences Targeted actions: Initiatives to increase students’ interest for S&T studies can be classified as follows:  Communication (information about science & scientists, S&T careers, educational opportunities…)  Innovative pedagogical tools (hands-on experience, unisex classes, schools for best students…)  Incentives (tuition fees, grants, call for projects…)  Educational reforms (extra orientation year, curriculum content…)  Coordination, networks (teacher networks, sharing practical information…) Several countries have initiated broad-spectrum actions, either through top-down or bottom-up mechanisms

22 Global Science Forum Remedies: Learning from experiences  Actionable with rapid results (Low hanging fruits) Educational reforms: Basic Year (Sweden) Incentive: S&T Tertiary education for adults (Sweden)  Long term efforts Communication: cienca viva centres (Portugal) Pedagogical innovations : la main à la pâte (France) Networks: Sinus (Germany)

23 Global Science Forum Remedies: limits and further needs  Many initiatives are never evaluated  Many initiatives are on small scales, difficult to extrapolate  Current initiatives are often too recent to be analysed  Multifactorial initiatives make evaluation more complex (what is effectively working…)  There is a need for common evaluation tools to assess the impact of initiatives (on student’s enrolment, student’s interest for S&T etc…)

24 Global Science Forum Concluding conference  A two-day conference, on November 14-15, 2005 in Amsterdam  About 300 participants expected  By invitation only  Science / Education policy representatives, International organisations representatives  Will include participants from companies, NGOs, students associations, experts, journalists

25 Global Science Forum Concluding conference  First day  Opening session (3 keynote speakers to highlight the issue)  Quantitative assessment: presentation of results  5 parallel working sessions will tackle the various factors and remedies, and identify potential recommendations  Second day  Policy implications of the proposed solutions  Synthesis of the recommendations and proposed action plan  Closing session (keynote speaker to explore possible governmental actions based on the findings)

26 Global Science Forum OUTCOME The outcome will be a concise policy-level report, accompanied by extensive statistical data. It will be of wide interest to the education and science policy communities. The report is expected in the first semester of 2006


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