Children’s and Adolescents’ Specific Interest in Science and Technology, Participation in Out-of-School Activities and Inclination to Become Scientists

Abstract

Recently, the literature has repeatedly reported an interesting decrease in science and technology (S&T) among youngsters, and a drop of students choosing professions related to these knowledge areas. This study pursued to assess the interest of primary and secondary pupils in specific fields of S&T and to relate this interest to their predisposition to engage in S&T-related out-of-school activities and their inclination to become scientists in the future. A questionnaire on S&T interests and attitudes was administered to a sample of 1336 pupils. Results show that, overall, the inclination to become scientists was low. However, we found a relationship between pupils’ interest in areas of S&T and their predisposition to participate in out-of-school S&T activities, and also between their interest and their inclination to become scientists. Moreover, significant age- and sex-related differences concerning all these aspects were identified. We discuss the importance of acknowledging children’s and adolescents’ specific interest to promote their participation in S&T-related school activities and out-of-school activities. We also urge that information about scientific and technological careers be disseminated in schools in order to increase students’ interest in these areas.

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Funding

This work was performed as part of two research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (EDU2013-40965-R) and La Caixa Foundation (RecerCaixa program, call 2013). The Catalan government also support our reseach group through the call for Consolidated Reseach Groups (2014 SGR 178; 2014 SGR 1250). More information about these projects and the research group can be found at http://grintie.psyed.edu.es/ and https://ble.psyed.edu.es/?lang=en.

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Correspondence to María José Rochera.

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The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interest. Regarding the human participants, the families of the students and students were properly informed before the application of the questionnaire about the research aims and procedures and families signed a document to ensure their informed consent.

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Rochera, M.J., Merino, I., Oller, J. et al. Children’s and Adolescents’ Specific Interest in Science and Technology, Participation in Out-of-School Activities and Inclination to Become Scientists. J Sci Educ Technol 28, 399–413 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-019-09776-w

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Keywords

  • Out-of-school activities
  • Specific interests
  • Science and technology
  • Scientific work