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Young children's aspirations in science: the unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable

DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Archer, L., Dillon, J., Willis, B. and Wong, B. ORCID: (2013) Young children's aspirations in science: the unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable. International Journal of Science Education, 35 (6). pp. 1037-1063. ISSN 0950-0693

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2011.608197


Students' lack of interest in studying science and in science-related careers is a concern in the UK and worldwide. Yet there is limited data, particularly longitudinal, on the sources and development of science-related aspirations. In response, the ASPIRES (Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10–14) longitudinal study is investigating the development of students' educational and occupational aspirations over time. In the first phase of the project, a questionnaire exploring science-related aspirations and interests was completed by over 9,000 primary school students across England. This survey allowed us to explore possible associations between attitudes and aspirations, links which have not been investigated in previous attitudinal studies of this scope. Overall, students expressed positive attitudes to science, reported positive parental attitudes to science and held very positive images of scientists. Multilevel modelling analyses revealed that aspirations in science were most strongly related to parental attitudes to science, attitudes to school science and self-concept in science, and are also associated with students' gender, ethnicity and cultural capital. However, the images students held of scientists were not as closely related to aspirations. These factors are discussed in more detail within the paper, alongside a consideration of possible school-related effects.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:99175
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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