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Minority ethnic students and science participation: a qualitative mapping of achievement, aspiration, interest and capital

Wong, B. ORCID: (2016) Minority ethnic students and science participation: a qualitative mapping of achievement, aspiration, interest and capital. Research in Science Education, 46 (1). pp. 113-127. ISSN 1573-1898

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11165-015-9466-x


In the UK, the ‘leaky pipeline’ metaphor has been used to describe the relationship between ethnicity and science participation. Fewer minority ethnic students continue with science in post-compulsory education, and little is known about the ways in which they participate and identify with science, particularly in the secondary school context. Drawing on an exploratory study of 46 interviews and 22 h of classroom observations with British students (aged 11–14) from Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Chinese ethnic backgrounds, this paper identified five ‘types’ of science participation among minority ethnic students. The five types of science participation emerged from an analysis of students’ science achievement, science aspiration, science interest and science capital. The characteristics of the five types are as follows: Science adverse students have no aspirations towards science and lacked interest, achievement and capital in science. Science intrinsic students have high science aspirations, interest and capital but low science attainment. Students who are science intermediate have some aspirations, interest and capital in science, with average science grades. Science extrinsic students achieve highly in science, have some science capital but lacked science aspirations and/or interest. Science prominent students are high science achievers with science aspirations, high levels of interest and capital in science. The findings highlight that minority ethnic students participate in science in diverse ways. Policy implications are suggested for each type as this paper provides empirical evidence to counter against public (and even some academic) discourses of minority ethnic students as a homogeneous group.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:69980


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