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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Students’ Faltering Interest in Science in High School and Beyond: What Causes Many Students, Especially Females, to Disconnect

This paper investigates the cause of students’ disinterest in the sciences at later grades. It has been established that elementary age students express a great deal of enthusiasm for science and sometime in the late middle school ages, this enthusiasm begins to wane. This results in students showing less interest in science and deciding not to continue to higher level sciences or science related careers. Furthermore, this has been shown to be especially pronounced in female students. Some research has indicated that even when female students are successful and interested in science they are less likely to participate, which eventually translates to the lack of females in many science related careers. This paper looks at the connections between high school students’ past and present experiences with science and their attitudes towards the subject, asking questions such as what factors are a deterrent to continuing in science and how an individual builds their identity relating to science – whether or not they consider themselves to be a “science person” or “not a science person.” It also looks at the role gender takes in building a science identity and forming attitudes to science by questioning the potentially changeable classroom factors such as teacher attitudes and activities as well as the social constructs that typically define what it means to be a girl. By looking at what makes students, especially females, falter in pursuing science at higher ages, this paper makes suggestions of what educators can do to encourage positive experiences in science classes.

Presenter: Maia VanBeuren (St. John Fisher College) --
Topic: Education - Panel
Location: 101 Edwards
Time: 9 am (Session I)