Research on student attitudes and aspirations towards science has been an increasing focus of concern in the past decade. Much of this is driven by a growing concern about students’ lack of interest in the further study of science in advanced societies. Because attitude to science is a multifaceted construct, the chapter first reviews research into attitudes in order to develop principles for its meaningful measurement. We then explore the main features of student responses to science and examine the common assertion that there is a negative downward trend as many have suggested. Recent research clearly shows a negative correlation between a country’s developmental index and student attitudes to science. The effects of gender, teacher quality and pre-adolescent experience on student attitudes and aspirations towards science are examined in some detail, as well as a number of other factors in attempting to understand the complex pathways and choices that students make throughout their schooling about the study of STEM subjects. The construct of identity is used to make sense of the variety of attitudes and aspirations of students towards science, with particular emphasis on gender and youth in post-industrial societies. Finally, the role of enrichment experiences in science is examined, as a real and potential influence on student engagement with science.
Field of Research
130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy