Research in Science Education

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 251–256 | Cite as

Does Doing Scientific Research in High School Correlate with Students Staying in Science? A Half-Century Retrospective Study

Article

Abstract

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has declared in an advertising campaign that “you can’t start young enough” in science. However, there is no long-term data evaluating the effect of early exposure to original scientific research on producing career scientists. To address this issue, we examined a hands-on summer science research program for high school students that ran from 1958 to 1972. We compared participants in that program with science students that only began their hands-on research experience once in university. Our data indicate that students who are interested in science and have an opportunity to participate in original scientific research while in high school are significantly more likely (p < .005) to both enter and maintain a career in science compared to students whose first research experience didn’t occur until university. Our data suggest that more hands-on high school science research programs could help increase the number of students entering and maintaining scientific careers, relieving the growing concern that North America is losing its leadership status in the international scientific community.

Keywords

Careers Experience Headstarting High school Research 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada for financial support and both Thayer Academy and Tufts University for access to data on their alumni. Sandi Rankaduwa and Nancy Butcher helped with initial data collection. Constructive comments on the manuscript were provided by JoAnne Phillips. Greg Handrigan, David Hanauer, Christianne Macaulay and Gillian Gouchie provided statistical consultation.

References

  1. Alexander, L. (2005). Nurturing the next Einsteins. Science, 307, 1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anonymous (2007). Asia on the rise. Nature, 447, 885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bloom, P., & Weisberg, D. S. (2007). Childhood origins of adult resistance to science. Science, 316, 996–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Broad, W. J. (2004). U.S. is losing its dominance in the sciences. New York Times, Section A1, 3 May.Google Scholar
  5. Estes, R., & Wassersug, R. J. (1963). A miocene toad from Colombia, South America. Breviora, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 193, 1–13.Google Scholar
  6. Gibson, H. L., & Chase, C. (2002). Longitudinal impact of an inquiry-based science program on middle school students’ attitudes toward science. Science Education, 86, 693–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hanauer, D. I., Jacobs-Sera, D., Pedulla, M. L., Cresawn, S. G., Hendrix, R. W., & Hatfull, G. F. (2006). Inquiry learning: Teaching scientific inquiry. Science, 314, 1880–1881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Helm, E. G., Parker, J. E., & Russell, M. C. (1999). Education and career paths of LSU’s summer science program students from 1985 to 1997. Academic Medicine, 74, 336–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Markowitz, D. G. (2004). Evaluation of the long-term impact of a university high school summer science program on students’ interest and perceived abilities in science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13, 395–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. National Research Council (NRC) (2005). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter future. Washington, DC: National Research Council.Google Scholar
  11. Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2007). The pipeline: Benefits of undergraduate research experience. Science, 316, 548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Tai, R. H., Liu, C. Q., Maltese, A. V., & Fan, X. (2006). Career choice: Planning early for careers in science. Science, 312, 1143–1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Thayer Academy (1962). Advance studies in science report. Braintree, MA: Thayer Academy.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy & NeurobiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations