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SRHE, 30 April 2013 'I like science, but I don't want to be a scientist': Understanding 10-14 year olds science and career aspirations Professor Louise.

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Presentation on theme: "SRHE, 30 April 2013 'I like science, but I don't want to be a scientist': Understanding 10-14 year olds science and career aspirations Professor Louise."— Presentation transcript:

1 SRHE, 30 April 2013 'I like science, but I don't want to be a scientist': Understanding 10-14 year olds science and career aspirations Professor Louise Archer, King’s College London

2 Why study children’s science aspirations? Age 10-14 as ‘critical period’ for forming views of science and science aspirations Probabilistic/ predictive function (e.g. Croll 2008; Tai et al 2006) Education policy focus Sociological interest

3 Methodology 5 year, longitudinal ESRC funded project, part of TISME Mixed methods 3 tracking phases: Y6 (age 10/11); Y8 (age 12/13), Y9 (age 13/14) Phase 1 Survey of 9,319 Y6 pupils, 279 primary schools, England 170 interviews (92 children, 78 parents) Phase 2 Survey of 5,634 Y8 pupils (69 secondary schools) Follow-up interviews with 85 children Phase 3: 2012/3 Intervention

4 What do children aspire to age 10-13? Generally ‘high’ aspirations – Mostly professional, managerial and technical jobs – 91% agree is important to make a lot of money – 72% say parents expect them to go to university Work-life balance and altruism: – 96% agree that it will be important to have time for family – 90% aspire to ‘help others’ in their working lives – 78% want a career that will ‘make a difference in the world’ Careers in the arts, sports, medicine and teaching are most popular. Business also popular among Year 8 pupils.

5 Science careers are not popular

6 Most Y6 and Y8 children like science – Science is fourth most popular subject (especially among girls) – Over 70% of Y6 and Y8 pupils agree that they learn interesting things in science – Around 80% of Y8 pupils agree that they have enthusiastic science teachers and that their teachers expect pupils to do well – Only 19% find science ‘difficult’

7 Children have positive views of science careers 73% Y8 pupils agree that science is generally useful for their futures 70% feel that science is useful for getting a good future job. 79% believe that scientists do valuable work 62% agree that scientists are respected by society 63% think scientists make a lot of money

8 The ‘being / doing’ divide

9 Who aspires to science jobs? More boys: – 18% boys, 12% girls More middle-class pupils: – 23% of socially advantaged pupils vs. 8.8% of disadvantaged pupils. More South Asian/ minority ethnic pupils: – 23% of South Asian pupils cf. 18% of Black students and 13% of White students.

10 What shapes likelihood of developing science aspirations? 1.Families (science capital and family habitus) 2.Popular perceptions of science as ‘brainy’ 3.Gender

11 Science capital Science capital: science-related qualifications, knowledge, interest, literacy and contacts Link between family science capital and child science aspirations Socially uneven spread of science capital - disproportionate middle-class possession Capital as important for growth and nurturing of science aspirations (visible/ practical/ valuing)

12 Family Habitus Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field Interplay between agency and structure and reproduction of inequalities (e.g. Lareau 2003; 2007) Habitus: matrix of dispositions shaping individual’s actions and understanding of the world; practical ‘feel’ for the world Family habitus: family values, practices, sense of ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’ Interaction between family habitus, capital and field.

13 1. Family habitus and social reproduction Almost half of the Y8 interview sample aspired to the same job as a family member or close family friend. These are most often children from middle-class backgrounds, who aspire to careers in medicine, teaching and other professions.

14 Working-class students were much less likely to cite a family member’s career as the inspiration for their aspirations. Examples of alignment over time “My mum always says to me ‘You’re a really good cook’ and my grandma says to me ‘We’ve got cooking in the family’, ‘cos my grandma cooks, my mum cooks, my Nan cooks, my great grandma used to cook... so I think it’s just like in me in a way.” (Laylany, Year 8 girl)

15 Interaction of family habitus and capital Power of habitual practices and values (“what people like us do”) Daily reinforcement of some career paths as more ‘natural’ or ‘thinkable’ for particular children. Eg. Girls and nurturing professions

16 Making science ‘thinkable’ Science highly visible and familiar in family life Opportunities, resources and support for children to develop practical mastery/ ‘feel’ for science in everyday family life Cultivation of perception of science as desirable Mutually reinforcing: part of ‘what we do’ and ‘who we are’ Family habitus can compensate for lack of science capital (e.g. Luna/ Stella) – but how sustainable? Science capital and ‘science for citizenship’

17 Making science ‘unthinkable’: interactions of family habitus and capital ‘Raw’ aspirations: enthusiastic child who is ‘really into science’ Families with ‘benign’ or ambivalent attitudes to science Predict loss of aspirations over time

18 Majority of sample: Science as “interesting... but not for me”: E.g. MacTavish is ‘really into’ science; Coke/Mentos engagement; but ‘no idea... not a clue’ what his family think about science and no science aspirations Over-representation of working-class (White and Black) families Family habitus as ‘accomplishment of natural growth’ – interplay with lack of economic capital Science defined more through its absence than presence – “I suppose in everyday life you don’t get that much to do with it [science]” (Parent) – “I’ve never asked them about science” (Lucy) – “They never talk about science” (Jack)

19 Lack of science capital 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.

20 Summary – family habitus / capital Everyday family values, practices and identity = very powerful – renders some aspirations more ‘thinkable’ than others The more science capital a family has, the more likely their child is to aspire to a science-related career and/or plan to study science post-16. Middle-class families more likely to possess high quality science capital (esp. White and/or South Asian) Interaction of economic, social and cultural capital with family habitus - family practices aimed at ‘growing’ interest and ‘concerted cultivation’

21 Result: some families (esp. middle-class) are better equipped to foster and support their children to develop and sustain science aspirations.

22 Lack of science capital exacerbated by lack of careers education in KS3 In the interviews, only four (out of 85) Y8 pupils said that their aspirations had been informed / inspired by school careers education resources or activities. Careers education: too little, too late?

23 (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 Those who see science as “interesting, but...” tend to be ‘middling’ pupils “She [daughter] 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’” (Sandra, mother). Dominant notions of ‘cleverness’ are gendered, classed and racialised

24 (3) Gender Higher percentage of Y8 girls than boys rate science as favourite subject But, more boys than girls aspire to science careers (e.g. Y8 18% boys; 12% girls, cf 64% girls aspire to careers in the arts)

25 What puts girls off? Views of science as male-dominated (“its not girly, its not sexy, not glamorous”) More ‘girly’ girls are less likely to express science aspirations (perceived lack of fit with popular femininity) Some negative experiences of science spaces

26 Girls who aspire to science Two ‘types’: ‘feminine’ and ‘bluestocking’, both highly academic

27 Girls who aspire to science Challenge to ‘balance’ femininity and science aspirations “We’re kind of the nerds” (Hannah, Y8 girl) “I would say there are like two types of people that are into science – either there are the really like geeky people...or there are like people who are like me who aren’t like geeky but they have a knack for it... I play the guitar and do rowing and obviously the girly stuff that other normal girls do” (Davina, Y8 girl). Decline Y6-Y8 in number of ‘feminine’ science girls

28 Boys who aspire to science Two types: Cool/footballers vs. young professors, both academic

29 Boys who aspire to science Cool/footballer scientists: – “No one could say I’m a geek because [of]my size... And being good at football really helps... Yeah, cos otherwise if I was no good at sport then people would think I’m a geek, yeah” (Gerrard, Year 8 boy). Young professors: – “I’ve been called a geek and a goody-two-shoes quite a lot” (Victor2, Year 8 boy) – “I think my hair would suit the job as a mad scientist!” (Neb, Year 8 boy) More cool/footballer scientists – not such a problem balancing for boys?

30 Implications STEM participation policy: shift in emphasis from interest to participation ‘liking science is not enough’) 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’ – Gender deconstruction work Redistribution of science capital – Embed STEM careers awareness in NC science and in STEM outreach emphasising diversity of careers from science) – Promote message that ‘science keeps options open’ – Invest in, and prioritise, CPD for science teachers to embed and deliver STEM careers awareness in their teaching – ‘More, better, and earlier’ careers education (especially targeted for socially disadvantaged) – Work with families

31 Spheres of Influence: What shapes young people’s aspirations at age 12/13 and what are the implications for education policy?, (in press) Journal of Education Policy Not Girly, not sexy, not glamorous: Primary school girls' and parents' constructions of science aspirations. (2013), Pedagogy, Culture & Society (iFirst) ‘Balancing Acts’: Elementary school girls’ negotiations of femininity, achievement and science, (2012) Science Education 96 (6), 967-989. Nerdy, Brainy and Normal: Children’s and Parents’ Constructions of Those Who Are Highly Engaged with Science (2012) Research in Science Education Ten Science Facts & Fictions: The Case for Early Education about STEM CareersTen Science Facts & Fictions: The Case for Early Education about STEM Careers. London: KCL/ The Science Council. Science Aspirations and family habitus: How families shape children’s engagement and identification with science (2012). AERJ 49(5), 881-908. Young children's aspiration in Science: The unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable (2011). International Journal of Science Education, pp. 1-27. High aspirations but low progression: The science aspirations-career paradox amongst minority ethnic students. IJSME, 9(2), 243-271. 'Doing' science vs 'being' a scientist (2010) Science Education, 94(4), 617-639. Adolescent boys’ science aspirations: masculinity, ‘race’, capital and power (under review) Wong, B. (2012). Identifying with Science: A case study of two 13-year-old 'high achieving working class' British Asian girls. International Journal of Science Education, 34(1), 43- 65.

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