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CAN WE PROMOTE INTEREST ON EARTH SCIENCES IN BACCALAUREATE STUDENTS?

E. Playà1, T. Bover-Arnal 1, A. Calafat1, T. Calvet1, X. Delclòs1, M. Garcia-Valles1, M. Guinau1, M. Ríos1, N. Roca1, P. Alfonso2

1Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
2Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (SPAIN)
Earth Sciences (ES) schooling at the Spanish Baccalaureate program, specifically in Geology, is extremely reduced and nonmandatory for students. Since the Baccalaureate is the prelude to university, the decisions advanced level secondary students make about their academic curricula are key to their professional future. Based on the current Spanish educational legislation, in which ES is elective, this contribution delves into the causes of demotivation in Geology learning in High School students and analyzes a proposal to strengthen the content in ES in the Secondary Education System. For this purpose, a survey was designed and addressed to Baccalaureate students. A total of 662 Baccalaureate students from different High Schools from Catalonia participated in the survey. Similar questionnaires were distributed among undergraduate students in ES (Geology, Marine Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Mining Engineering). All surveys were answered during the academic year 2020-21. The 45% of the Baccalaureate students surveyed show interest in Geology, and eventually more than 54% enroll themselves in a Geology course. Nevertheless, only 15% choose Geology because they really like it, while 30% do so to avoid another subject. From all the Baccalaureate students surveyed, almost 8% will enroll themselves in an ES university degree and only 1.2% will do so in Geology. In short, only students who intend to do a degree related to ES carry out a research project (RP) related to this subject. On the other hand, 30% of the students currently undertaking a Bachelor in Geology surveyed report to have chosen a Research Project (RP) related to ES in their Baccalaureate studies. The RP is a mandatory report for Baccalaureates in Catalonia. In other ES degrees such as Marine Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Geological Mining, this percentage decreases to 16%. These results clearly reveal that it is worth betting on promoting RPs related to ES among secondary students. RPs are a powerful way for students to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge and different working methods. Their motivation during the development of their RP will mainly depend on the tools and technology involved, and on the tutor’s own motivation. An option to promote and motivate students for learning ES is to link research at the University with their research at the High School, based on the co-supervision programs available in many universities, in which university professors serve as research mentors to Baccalaureate students and offer them knowledge and the university facilities. A real appreciation, in working hours, of these tutelages by the Universities, would help that more teachers and/or researchers of the faculties of sciences became involved in the RPs of Baccalaureate students.