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Understanding and developing student interest in science: an investigation of 14-16 year-old students in England

Darlington, Helen Margaret; (2017) Understanding and developing student interest in science: an investigation of 14-16 year-old students in England. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this research was to investigate what can be done to develop student interest in GCSE science lessons. Mixed methods were used to develop an understanding, and allow comparison, of the views of groups of students and teachers. Students were asked what they believed to be the purpose of learning science between the ages of 14-16, how interested they were, and what they believed could increase their interest, in science lessons. A questionnaire was completed by 475 students and 11 teachers from four state-maintained schools, in England, in the summer before the students started their GCSE studies. Lesson observations and focus group interviews were carried out in one school over a period of two years. Two classes of students completed a second questionnaire at the end of their GCSE studies to assess their interest level. Student responses to the question generated six Interest Factors and four Purpose Factors. There were minimal differences between the strength of agreement with these factors from male and female students but significant differences in the responses of students from different ability sets, a trend seen in all schools. There is a mis-match between the beliefs of teachers and students as teacher responses mirror those of the students from the highest ability set only. The findings also suggest a strong relationship between students’ levels of interest in science lessons and their relationships with teachers. There are clear relationships between the level of interest a student has and where they see the influence and responsibility for developing that interest lies, whether with the student themself or with the teacher. Through subtle but significant changes to pedagogy which incorporated the Interest and Purpose Factors, generated as part of this research, it was possible to increase student interest in science lessons during the two years of study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Understanding and developing student interest in science: an investigation of 14-16 year-old students in England
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10024817
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