Understanding declining science participation in Australia : a systemic perspective

Lyons, Terry & Quinn, Frances (2015) Understanding declining science participation in Australia : a systemic perspective. In Henriksen, Ellen Karoline, Dillon, Justin, & Ryder, Jim (Eds.) Understanding Student Participation and Choice in Science and Technology Education. Springer, Netherlands, pp. 153-168.

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In this chapter we describe the substantial declines in student participation in senior high school physics, chemistry and biology classes in Australia over the last two decades. We outline some of the explanations commonly offered to account for these declines, focusing on two contrasting positions: first, that they are due to today’s students holding less positive attitudes towards science classes and careers than their predecessors, and second, that the declines are related to policy and structural changes at the upper secondary and tertiary education levels which have affected the relative status of subjects and the dynamics of choice. We describe how the Choosing Science study investigated the extent to which the two hypotheses were supported by empirical evidence, and discuss our findings in the light of a third result from the study concerning the role of self-identity in subject choice. We conclude that the declines in high school science enrolments are most likely related to changes in school and university curriculum options and that within this expanded curriculum marketplace, identity becomes a very important reference point in students’ decisions about whether to take science in the final years of high school.

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ID Code: 77856
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: science enrolments, subject choice, curriculum policy
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-7793-4_10
ISBN: 9789400777927
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Secondary Education (130106)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Science Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy (130212)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 19 Oct 2014 22:31
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2015 15:16

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