This paper investigates the factors that influence 15 year-old students' intentions to study physics post-16, when it is no longer compulsory. The analysis is based on the year 10 (age 15 years) responses of 5034 students from 137 England schools as learners of physics during the academic year 2008-09. Factor analyses uncovered a range of physicsspecific constructs, seven of which were statistically significantly associated with intention to study physics post-16 in our final multi-level model; in descending order of effect size these are extrinsic material gain motivation, intrinsic value of physics, home support for achievement in physics, emotional response to physics lessons, perceptions of physics lessons, physics self-concept and advice-pressure to study physics. A further analysis using individual items from the survey rather than constructs (aggregates of items) supported the finding that extrinsic motivation in physics was the most important factor associated with intended participation. In addition, this item-level analysis indicated that within the advicepressure to study physics construct the encouragement individual students receive from their teachers is the key factor that encourages them to intend to continue with physics post-16.
This review examines how natural history museums (NHMs) can enhance learning and engagement in science, particularly for school-age students. First, we describe the learning potential of informal science learning institutions in general, then we focus on NHMs. We review the possible benefits of interactions between schools and NHMs, and the potential for NHMs to teach about challenging issues such as evolution and climate change and to use digital technologies to augment more traditional artefacts. We conclude that NHMs can provide students with new knowledge and perspectives, with impacts that can last for years. Through visits and their on-line presence, NHMs can help students see science in ways that the school classroom rarely can, with opportunities to meet scientists, explore whole topic exhibitions, engage with interactive displays and employ digital technologies both in situ and to support learning in the school science classroom. Although these interactions have the potential to foster positive cognitive, affective and social outcomes for students, there is a lack of reliable measures of the impact of NHM experiences for students. Opportunities to foster relationships between NHM staff and teachers through professional development can help articulate shared goals to support students’ learning and engagement.
This paper explores the factors that are associated in England with 15 year-old students' intentions to study physics post-16, when it is no longer compulsory. Survey responses were collated from 5034 year 10 students as learners of physics during the academic year 2008-09 from 137 England secondary schools. Our analysis uses individual items from the survey rather than constructs (aggregates of items) to explore what it is about physics teachers, physics lessons and physics itself that is most correlated with intended participation in physics post-16. Our findings indicate that extrinsic material gain motivation in physics was the most important factor associated with intended participation. In addition, an item-level analysis helped to uncover issues around gender inequality in physics educational experiences which were masked by the use of construct-based analyses. Girls' perceptions of their physics teachers were similar to those of boys on many fronts. However, despite the encouragement individual students receive from their teachers being a key factor associated with aspirations to continue with physics, girls were statistically significantly less likely to receive such encouragement. We also found that girls had less positive experiences of their physics lessons and physics education than did boys.
There is a widespread concern that relatively few students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, continue to study chemistry and other science subjects after compulsory education. Yet it remains unclear how different aspects of students' background and home context, their own attitudes and beliefs, and their experiences of particular teaching approaches in school might limit or facilitate their studying aspirations; concurrently, less research has specifically focused on and surveyed disadvantaged students. In order to gain more insight, 4780 students were surveyed, covering those in Year 7 (age 11-12 years) and in Year 8 (age 12-13) from schools in England with high proportions of those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Predictive modelling highlighted that the students' aspirations to study non-compulsory science in the future, and to study the particular subject of chemistry, were strongly associated with their extrinsic motivation towards science (their perceived utility of science, considered as a means to gain particular careers or skills), their intrinsic interest in science, and their engagement in extra-curricular activities. Additionally, their selfconcept beliefs (their confidence in their own abilities in science), some teaching approaches, and encouragement from teachers and family alongside family science capital had smaller but still relevant associations.
Increasing the number of students who study mathematics once it is no longer compulsory remains a priority for England. A longitudinal cohort from England (1085 students) was surveyed at Years 10 and 12. Students' self-beliefs of ability influenced their GCSE mathematics grades and their intended and actual mathematics subject-choices; the degree of under-confidence or over-confidence related to these self-beliefs was also influential. Additional factors that significantly influenced students' intentions at Year 10 to study mathematics in Year 12 were the advice or pressure to do so, the extrinsic motivation associated with mathematics, their gender and the emotional response associated with doing mathematics. These same factors were also significant influences on students' intentions at Year 12 to study mathematics at university, with the addition of their intrinsic motivation associated with mathematics. Although gender was not a significant influence on GCSE mathematics grades or whether students actually studied A-Level mathematics, boys were associated with higher intentions to study mathematics into Year 12, 13 and university. Additionally, girls were generally more under-confident than boys in their self-beliefs.
Self-beliefs and subject-choicesIncreasing the numbers of mathematics students and graduates remains a priority for England; mathematics helps solve problems throughout the physical sciences, computer sciences, engineering, medicine and many other areas, and more students and graduates are hoped by policy-makers and stake-holders to ultimately benefit the wider economy (The Royal Society, 2011). Mathematics A-Level entries have only recently recovered following a decline owing to the introduction of Curriculum 2000 (Department for Education, 2011), and it remains important to explore why students decide to study A-Level mathematics or not, especially as fewer students in England study non-compulsory mathematics compared with many other countries (Hodgen et al., 2013).Students' attainment in GCSE mathematics has a major effect on whether they continue with the subject once it becomes non-compulsory. A continued onto A-Level mathematics, but only 15% of students with grade B and 1% with grade C did so (Department for Education, 2012). Other subjects such as the sciences, history and languages, are less critically dependent on GCSE grades for progression to A-Level. Additionally, students' self-beliefs of their own attainment, ability, or success, such as their academic subject-specific self-concept beliefs, are fundamental to both attainment (e.g. Huang, 2011) and subject-choices (e.g. Blenkinsop et al., 2006). A systematic literature review (Tripney et al., 2010) has highlighted that these self-beliefs, together with the perceived usefulness of subjects, enjoyment, and the complementary nature of some subjects, are commonly reported reasons for A-Level choices. Mathematics subject-choices in England have also been influenced by the perceived difficulty of A-Level study and (low) confi...
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