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MARCH Conference, Athens, 13 th November 2014 Why liking science is not enough: Young people’s science and career aspirations age 10-14 Professor Louise.

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Presentation on theme: "MARCH Conference, Athens, 13 th November 2014 Why liking science is not enough: Young people’s science and career aspirations age 10-14 Professor Louise."— Presentation transcript:

1 MARCH Conference, Athens, 13 th November 2014 Why liking science is not enough: Young people’s science and career aspirations age Professor Louise Archer, King’s College London

2 Why study children’s science aspirations? Age 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

3 ASPIRES Project 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 students, 279 primary schools, England 170 interviews (92 children, 78 parents) Phase 2 Survey of 5,634 Y8 students (69 secondary schools) Follow-up interviews with 85 children Phase 3: 2013 Survey of 4,600 Y9 students Follow up interviews with 83 students and 65 parents Intervention Continuing: ASPIRES2, ( )

4 What do young people aspire to? Generally ‘high’ aspirations – Mostly professional, managerial and technical jobs – E.g. 91% Y8 agree is important to make a lot of money – 72% Y8 say parents expect them to go to university Altruism: – E.g. 90% aspire to ‘help others’ in their working lives

5 Most year olds like school science – Science is fourth most popular subject (especially among girls) – 73%-66% students age agree that they learn interesting things in science – Around 80% of young people agree that they have enthusiastic science teachers and that their teachers expect them to do well

6 Young people 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

7 Most students like science, but...

8 What careers do Y9 students aspire to?

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 Have high or very high cultural capital Be in top set for science Have a family member who uses science in their job Also more likely to:

11 What shapes likelihood of developing science aspirations? 1.‘Science capital’ 2.Popular perceptions of science as ‘brainy’ 3.Gender 4.Ethnicity

12 (1) Science capital Science-related qualifications, knowledge, interest, literacy and social contacts (e.g. Knowing people who work in science jobs/ have science qualifications)

13 Related research conducted with a nationally representative sample of year olds suggests that of students surveyed: – High science capital: 5% – Medium science capital:68% – Low science capital:27%

14 ASPIRES found that science capital interacts with ‘Family Habitus’ Habitus: matrix of dispositions shaping an 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’

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 Families, science capital and science aspirations Link between family science capital and child science aspirations Children with a family member working in a science-related career tend to have stronger aspirations in science than their peers: – e.g. 47% of Y8 students with a family member who works in a science-related job vs. 29% of the whole cohort say that they would like to work in a science- related job. 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.

17 Year 6

18 Year 9

19 High level of consistency Y6-Y9 across all groups: approx ¾ within each level keep aspirations within same category (sci/ STEM-related/ non-STEM). High science capital: more likely to express science/ STEM aspirations than not. Those with non-STEM aspirations still plan to study Triple and post-16 science and name science among favourite subjects Medium s/c: more likely to express science/ STEM aspirations than not Low s/c: Most likely to have non-STEM aspirations. No student in this group expressed consistent science aspirations Y6-Y9.

20 Science families: Making science ‘thinkable’ Science highly visible and familiar in family life Tend to be middle-class families Opportunities, resources and support for children to develop practical mastery/ ‘feel’ for science in everyday family life and cultivation of science as desirable Mutually reinforcing: part of ‘what we do’ and ‘who we are’ “The other day in the car we were laughing about chemical symbols and things, so I guess it does come into the discussion quite subliminally really” (Mother). Science capital and ‘science for citizenship’

21 Example of family science capital producing alignment over time (‘Bill’): Age 11, Bill aspires to join the army. He is passionate about military history and loves writing. Age 13, he wants to be a food writer. Age 14, he aspires to be a historian, a journalist “and maybe a bit of Science”. He plans to take history, biology and English at A level. His recent science aspirations ‘surprise’ his father. Bill is from a science family. Age 11 he is aware that “my dad might like me to be a scientist like him. Age 14 he says: “I think they would like me to go into Science... ‘cos they do it and they think its important [...] My entire family, most of them have taken Science and are in science related jobs”. Dad says “we do talk about science at the dinner table or, you know, in conversations”

22 Science as ‘unthinkable’: interactions of family habitus and capital ‘Raw’ aspirations: enthusiastic child who is ‘really into science’ Families with ‘benign’ or ambivalent attitudes to science Loss of science aspirations over time among families with low science capital

23 Majority of sample: Science as “interesting... but not for me”: Children have ‘no idea... not a clue’ what families think about science - 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)

24 Implications of a 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.

25 “I think it’s different because English and Maths are used more widely but Science is like a thing that you … like unless you want to be a scientist, isn’t as relevant to you” (Pamela, Y9). “The problem is the lack of knowledge, the lack of awareness, where you know certain subjects like this can take them [children]” (Tasha, Alan’s mother).

26 Importance of recognising transferability The UPMAP project’s survey of 7000 Year 10 and Year 12 students found that perceived material gain (‘ I think Physics will help me in the job I want to do in the future’) is one of most important factors predicting whether students will choose to study the subject post-16.

27 (2) Popular views of science as ‘brainy’ Over 80% of Y6-Y9 students 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]... She says ‘I’m not clever enough to be good at science’” (Sandra, mother).

28 Views of science as for the ‘brainy’ Dominant notions of ‘cleverness’ are gendered, classed and racialised (Archer & Francis 2007) Particularly difficult for some students to inhabit (e.g. Working-class, Black, girls)

29 (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. Y8/9 18% boys; 12% girls, cf 64% girls aspire to careers in the arts)

30 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 Only for ‘clever’ girls

31 Differential ‘pushing’ by gender UPMAP project: motivation over time by a significant adult is key to post-16 participation But: – Boys report higher parental expectations than girls – Boys report more motivation from their teachers to pursue Physics/maths Carlone (2003): teachers’ gendered constructions of advanced Physics student ‘ability’ and attainment

32 Girls who aspire to science Two ‘types’: ‘feminine’ and ‘bluestocking’

33 Girls who aspire to science Bluestocking: very academic, ‘not girly’ (“We’re kind of the nerds”, Hannah, Y8 girl) ‘Feminine’ scientists: academic but work hard to balance science aspirations and femininity “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-Y9 in number of ‘feminine’ science girls

34 Girls drifting away... Gradual process of erosion over time (no single ‘moment’) E.g. Brittney: Y6 ‘something involving chemistry’ or beauty; Y8 less sure, maybe ‘something involving science, maybe chemistry”; Y9: certain ‘primary school teacher’ Mixed school; friendship group; lack of science capital (cf. “someone in my family is a teacher”) e.g. “there isn’t really much to do about science outside of school, so I don’t really do anything”. ‘Lost potentials’ (Aschbacher et al 2010) – families and teachers tend to push girls less than boys towards physics/ maths (UPMAP project) Can also be compounded by selective entry to Triple Science (e.g. Georgie)

35 Boys who aspire to science Two types: Cool/footballers vs. young professors

36 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?

37 (4) Ethnicity: Black students’ and parents’ views No evidence in data that participation issues are due to Black students’ lower attainment, lower interest or lower family aspirations Common factors (e.g. Science capital; views of scientists as white, middle-class and ‘brainy’) are amplified for Black students due to multiple inequalities

38 Bucking the trend... Selena and Vanessa Changing views of science and aspirations Strong family support for/ valuing of education Femininity (“I think I’m more different [to other girls]... Cos like all the girls … they’re more like into other stuff, not football” ) Academic female peer friendship groups Single-sex school Selena: performing academic success, aspiring to ‘be the best’ Vanessa: aspiring to ‘be like dad’ (“My dad, he’s like really good at Science and Maths, so like I would really like to be good at that”) – the importance of science capital But... The need to work ‘twice as hard’; multiple aspirations; parental anxiety about forensic science

39 Conclusions and Implications

40 Key Messages Most young people have high aspirations – just not for science Negative views of school science and scientists are NOT the main problem Science capital is key Most students and families are not aware of where science qualifications can lead The ‘brainy’ image of science/ science careers puts many young people off – and may be a particular issue for some girls, working-class and Black students The (white) male, middle-class image of science careers remains a problem Girls have to work harder to balance science aspirations – and are less likely to be ‘pushed’ towards science by others

41 What might be done? Shift policy discourse - from ‘increasing interest’ to ‘building science capital’ ‘More, better, and earlier’ (STEM) careers education - starting at primary school and continuing through to FE and beyond Embedded careers education within the curriculum (e.g. see US Careerstart project) as part of a wide portfolio of careers activities Promote the message that ‘science keeps options open’ Highlight the relevance of science for all (irrespective of careers) e.g. value of science skills for wide range of jobs (problem-solving, being analytic, etc) Work to break the science = scientist link. Showcase careers from science Target resources at disadvantaged groups. Leverage ‘funds of knowledge’. Challenge the ‘brainy’ image of science/ scientists – schools in England to examine science ‘streaming’ and restricted A level access; FE to highlight STEM technical/vocational routes England: Revise KS4 diversity of science options and revise (broaden) post- 16 options (baccalaureate) Build science capital with families, not just young people. Share labour market information re: growth area in technical STEM jobs

42 ASPIRES Publications Archer, L., DeWitt, J. & Willis, B. (2013) Adolescent boys’ science aspirations: masculinity, ‘race’, capital and power. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Archer, L. DeWitt, J., & Wong, B. (2013) Spheres of Influence: What shapes young people’s aspirations at age 12/13 and what are the implications for education policy?, Journal of Education Policy, iFirst Archer, L. DeWitt, J. & Dillon, J. (2014) “It didn’t really change my opinion”: exploring what works, what doesn’t, and why in a school STEM careers intervention. Research in Science and Technological Education Archer, L. & Tomei, A. (in press) “I like science but it’s not for me”: should pupils be taught about STEM careers? School Science Review. Archer, L. DeWitt, J. & Osborne, J. (in press) Is Science for Us? Black students’ and parents’ views of science and science careers, Science Education Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2013) Not Girly, not sexy, not glamorous: Primary school girls' and parents' constructions of science aspirations., Pedagogy, Culture & Society Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2012) Science Aspirations and family habitus: How families shape children’s engagement and identification with science. American Educational Research Journal 49(5), Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2012) ‘Balancing Acts’: Elementary school girls’ negotiations of femininity, achievement and science, Science Education 96 (6),

43 Archer, L. (2013) What influences participation in science and mathematics? A briefing paper from the Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education (TISME). Archer, L. Ten Science Facts & Fictions: The Case for Early Education about STEM CareersArcher, L. Ten Science Facts & Fictions: The Case for Early Education about STEM Careers. London: KCL/ The Science Council. Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2010) 'Doing' science vs 'being' a scientist Science Education, 94(4), DeWitt, J., Archer, L., & Osborne, J. (in press). Science-related aspirations across the primary-secondary divide: Evidence from two surveys in England. DeWitt, J., Archer, L., & Osborne, J. (2013). Nerdy, brainy and normal: Children’s and parents’ constructions of those who are highly engaged with science. Research in Science Education, 43(4), DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Archer, L., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2013). Young children’s aspirations in science: The unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable. International Journal of Science Education, 35(6), DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Archer, L., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2012). High aspirations but low progression: The science aspirations-career paradox amongst minority ethnic students. IJSME, 9(2), 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),

44 Keeping in touch/ further Info tisme-scienceandmaths.org Follow our research Science capital seminar videos on YouTube (Mike Savage, Shamus Khan, Louise Archer, Angela Calabrese Barton, Jonathan Osborne, Charis Thompson, Steph Lawler, Jrene Rahm, Kevin Crowley): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLun2jODy9M2cvE3bgJ- UCc0dotvrSfRVG https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLun2jODy9M2cvE3bgJ- UCc0dotvrSfRVG


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