About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3345-3353
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain

QATARI STUDENTS PERFORMANCE, INTEREST IN, AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS

Z. Said, H. Friesen

College of the North Atlantic (QATAR)
Despite the resources that have been invested in the educational reform in Qatar in the last few years, no systematic study has been conducted to investigate the factors behind the disengagement and disinterest in science and mathematics in Qatari schools. This paper explores why the Qatari education reforms launched in 2003 as “Education for a New Era” have not reversed the significant decline observed over the past 15 years in the number of students studying mathematics and science at both secondary and tertiary levels of education although a significant relative progress has been observed in the recently published international results of TIMMS 2011 as compared to previous TIMMS 2007. The paper outlines the main features of current science and mathematics education at Qatari schools, examines the performance of Qatari students on both national and international tests, and looks at enrollment trends in science programs at Qatar University, the only national university in the state. It further seeks to identify the major factors influencing student attitudes towards mathematics and science, as well as the decline in interest and enrollment in these subjects.

The paper presents the results of the first phase of a 3 years project, funded by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). Data collection relied on four sources:
1. Analysis of relevant data from documents and reports dealing with education in Qatar with emphasis on published results of international tests (PISA and TIMMS).
2. A School Science Teaching Inventory Questionnaire (SSTIQ)
3. Science teacher questionnaire on factors influencing students’ interest in and attitudes towards science, and interviews.
4. Grade 3 -12 Students questionnaires on interest and attitudes towards science.

Declining interest in mathematics and science subjects at schools and colleges in Qatar is attributed to a combination of several interrelated factors, namely the lack of the availability of qualified teachers, the complexity associated with introducing English language as a medium of instruction without adequate preparation, the traditional methods of instruction and assessment, the lack of knowledge and understanding of the importance of mathematics and science to everyday life, and the negatively stereotyped image of scientists among the public.

Other factors include the the lack of a framework for practical activities aligned with curriculum standards, weak student counseling and career services, the absence of science centers and museums, and the lack of strong ties between schools and professional workplace and research centers. Each of these factors has contributed to reinforcing negative attitudes towards studying STEM subjects reinforcing negative attitudes towards studying STEM subjects at schools and colleges. However, in the last three years, there is a significant improvement in the attitude and interest toward science among students as a consequence of successful introduction of strategies to tackle some of the above issues. One of these strategies, as an example, is the growing research activities among schools through a specific program (Secondary School Research Experience Program SSREP) launched recently by QNRF that encourage engagement of teachers and students in research projects directly derived from the curriculum standards promoting the tools of “Learning by Doing” and “Hands-On” research activities as effective methods in the secondary school education program.
@InProceedings{SAID2013QAT,
author = {Said, Z. and Friesen, H.},
title = {QATARI STUDENTS PERFORMANCE, INTEREST IN, AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS},
series = {5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN13 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3822-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {1-3 July, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {3345-3353}}
TY - CONF
AU - Z. Said AU - H. Friesen
TI - QATARI STUDENTS PERFORMANCE, INTEREST IN, AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS
SN - 978-84-616-3822-2/2340-1117
PY - 2013
Y1 - 1-3 July, 2013
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN13 Proceedings
SP - 3345
EP - 3353
ER -
Z. Said, H. Friesen (2013) QATARI STUDENTS PERFORMANCE, INTEREST IN, AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS, EDULEARN13 Proceedings, pp. 3345-3353.
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