Date: 05 Oct 2010

HIGH ASPIRATIONS BUT LOW PROGRESSION: THE SCIENCE ASPIRATIONS–CAREERS PARADOX AMONGST MINORITY ETHNIC STUDENTS

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Abstract

Students’ interest in studying science and their aspirations to pursue science-related careers is a topic of global concern. In this paper, a set of data gathered for the initial phase of the 5-year study of Science Aspirations and Careers: Age 10–14 (the ASPIRES project) is presented. In the initial phase of this project, a questionnaire exploring students’ aspirations was developed, validated and trialled with nearly 300 primary school students. Principal component analyses and Cronbach’s alpha revealed that the questionnaire was comprised of a number of unidimensional components and that reliability was acceptable. Further multivariate analyses indicated that students’ aspirations in science were most strongly predicted by parental attitudes to science, attitudes towards school science, self-concept in science, images of scientists and engagement in science-related activities outside of school. Moreover, ‘Asian’ students appeared to exhibit a highly positive set of attitudes towards science and aspirations in science, particularly when compared with White students. Reasons for this observed difference are also explored.