Reasons behind Science Subject Choices in a New Zealand Secondary School: A Survey of Year 10 and 11 Students

By Edward Rex Bartholomew and Azra Moeed.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Internationally, calls for scientific literacy to be an essential part of school science curricula have been highlighted in two substantive reports: Beyond 2000 (Millar & Osbourne, 1998; Osbourne, 2007) in the United Kingdom, and Reimagining Science Education in Australia (Tytler, 2007). These reports emphasise the need to make science relevant to secondary students in the twenty-first century. In New Zealand, there is a paucity of longitudinal research to find the reasons for students continuing with one or more sciences during their secondary schooling and subsequently. To investigate the New Zealand situation, students in a medium size, typical coeducational state school were surveyed at year 10 (age 14/15) and again at year 11 (age 15/16). This empirical research demonstrates that common reasons for selecting science subjects were the enjoyment of the subject, practical work relating to that subject, and for future career requirements. The paper also presents the reasons offered by students who had decided not to continue with the subject.

Keywords: Science Education, Subject Choice, Secondary School Science, Motivation

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp.133-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.860MB).

Edward Rex Bartholomew

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

I have been a senior lecturer in Science Education, in the Faculty of Education, for six years. My background includes heading science departments in secondary schools, delivering Department of Conservation training in ecological management, and editing and developing science education resources for primary and secondary schools in New Zealand and the United States. My research interests include: how teachers relate the nature of science (prodedural knowledge) to subject matter (substantive knowledge); the effectiveness of pre-service teacher education; and the use of terrestrial ecosystems as educational resources.

Dr. Azra Moeed

Senior Lecturer and Curriculum Leader Science Teacher Education., Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

My research interests are in science education, environmental education and science teacher education. Currently I am researching the teaching of science investigation in secondary schools in New Zealand and exploring the links between learning, motivation to learn and assessment. I have over 30 years of teaching in New Zealand in early childhood, primary, secondary and teacher education.


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