A STUDY OF THE PERCEPTIONS AND OPINIONS OF CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS TOWARD SCIENCE
1 University of Barcelona (SPAIN)
2 Generalitat de Catalunya, Dept. of Education (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Interest in science has dramatically declined over the past few decades however the reasons for this remain unclear. To recognize the cause of this decline, and ultimately correct it, we must first understand how children and teenagers currently feel towards science.
In Spain the social interest in science and technology is only 9.6% according to the last national survey of Perception of Science in Society conducted by FECYT in 2008. This is surprisingly low in comparison to the interest in other subjects, such as sports, languages, law and politics. There is also a perception among the general population that the presence of science and technology in formal education is very low.
When we asked students from compulsory secondary school (12 to 16 years old) about what they expected their future studies, grades, careers, etc. to consist of, less than 20% stated that they would continue studying science when they attend university and ultimately pursue a career in science. When we compared this with the number of people who actually enroll in a subject that would allow for a career in science we saw that the percentage was basically the same.
Why do students have more interest in Business Management than in Biology, Chemistry or Physics? We live in a world where immediate gratification has become the normal. Young people in particular have come to expect this in every part of their lives. It is no surprise, therefore, that this has carried over into education where more and more students choose to forget the study of science in favor of business management where there is a perception that a more immediate financial return on educational investment is available. This is evident across Europe and is not exclusive to Spain, showing a problem with modern society at large.
As scientists we are often asked by our children to describe science. At first this may prompt us to explain the basic scientific method, and then go on to describe how science is a part of our everyday lives. Eventually they may also want to know what a scientist does, and we would begin by explaining to them the work we are involved in on a daily basis, perhaps with some details that seem particularly remarkable to us.
As science teachers we have been interested in understanding how children and teenagers feel towards science. How would they describe it? In an effort to do so an extensive survey of Spanish primary and secondary school students was conducted. By examining and discussing these results the science community will have the opportunity to improve the way science is taught and disseminated in the future. In this paper we will present the results of those surveys to understand how science is perceived by young people and to improve how it is taught.
Keywords: Science, scientist, children, interest.