The Impact of Science Curriculum Content on Students’ Subject Choices in Post-compulsory Schooling

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter considers the impact of school science experiences on students’ post-compulsory subject choices. We view student choice as a ‘dynamic process’ rather than a rational decision made at a point in time. This process is influenced by a range of socio-cultural factors and students’ developing sense of agency and identity. Using a combination of questionnaires and individual narrative interviews we examine how high school students (aged 16–18 years) in two schools in England reflect on the process of their subject choices. A distinctive feature of this study is that in these schools students are following a science course with a strong focus on socio-scientific issues and the nature of science, taught by teachers with commitment and enthusiasm for such teaching. Consistent with previous studies, these students refer to a broad range of influences including perceptions of future careers, and school-related influences such as subject attainment, teacher quality, and enjoyment of the subject. Science curriculum content is one influence amongst many within these students’ reflections on subject choice. The distinctive focus on socio-scientific issues and the nature of science appears to encourage many students to consider pursuing science, but such choices need to align with other factors such as attainment and career aspiration. However, some students are ambivalent about, and in some cases dismissive of, such teaching. A minority of students in our sample talk of an early commitment to a science route through schooling. For other students, their reflections on the choice are characterized by ongoing uncertainty and indecision.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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