CONCERNS ON THE STATE OF GEOSCIENCE SCHOOLING IN THE SECONDARY EDUCATION SYSTEM OF CATALONIA
An extensive survey was performed in 2021 by means of different on-line questionnaires to teachers and students from the Catalan Secondary Education System to unfold the reasons behind the low undergraduate enrollment numbers in university Geoscience programs. The survey was answered by 408 teachers and 1859 students, including 1197 Compulsory Secondary Education (CSE) students (64.4%) and 662 Baccalaureates (35.6%). Survey results highlight major concerns regarding Geoscience interest and education in secondary schools. Most of the teachers surveyed (80%) are of the opinion that Geoscience schooling is in a bad situation in the CSE. Teachers' perception is that preference is given to biology given the extensive science program in the CSE, and that most of the science teachers are biologists and thus lack training in Geoscience. Secondary teachers also point out the time pressure and the general students' lack of motivation in Geology as a further reason. According to the teachers surveyed, and in general, the Baccalaureate students are not taking Geology courses given that this subject has a lower weight in the school-leaving examination in comparison with biology, chemistry, and physics. In the opinion of their teachers, the vast majority of the Baccalaureates also do not choose topics related to Geology for their research projects due to their low interest and/or inexperience in this field. Near the 30% of the Baccalaureate students who answered the questionnaire report that during their CSE were only introduced to Geology in one of the four academic years. Accordingly, Geology is perceived by the students to be of less importance than other subjects, as well as of lower difficulty. In this regard, the main reason why the 54% of the Baccalaureates surveyed finally took a Geology course was to avoid other subjects which they regard as more difficult such as physics. The Baccalaureate students have also the perception that Geology is neither useful for the university degree they would like to pursue in the future nor to change the world. Moreover, they are unaware of the career options and professional opportunities related to Geology. Along the same lines, the CSE students neither perceive Geology as useful or rewarding for their future careers nor are aware of the Geoscience job opportunities. The 55% of the CSE students surveyed identify Geology with one of the following three words: lack of knowledge, indifference, or laziness. In the survey, the CSE students rate their geological knowledge with a mean of 2.99 out of 5 (below average). The reversal of the low prestige of Geoscience schooling in the Secondary Education System of Catalonia and elsewhere is an urgent matter that needs to be high on the agenda of governments' administrations and addressed.