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Title: Science aspirations : investigating the views of 11-14 year old minority ethnic pupils
Author: Wong, Billy
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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The importance of science for the economy and the value of scientific literacy in contemporary society are widely acknowledged. However, there are concerns that young people, particularly girls and minority ethnic students, are ‘leaking’ from the science education pipeline (notably the physical sciences). This study draws across sociology of education and science education literature to explore the science and career aspirations of minority ethnic pupils aged 11-14 in London. British pupils from Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds were investigated as examples of typically ‘low’ academic achievers and participants in science (e.g. at GCSE and A-level), and British pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds were investigated as examples of typically ‘high’ achievers and participants in science education. Forty-six semi-structured interviews, six focus group discussions and 22 hours of classroom observations were conducted with minority ethnic pupils. Five science teachers and one parent were also interviewed. The study aims to explain current uneven patterns of science participation and achievement rates amongst minority ethnic students, focusing on why some students aspire, and others do not, towards science. The study found that although a diverse range of students aspired to science-related careers, the relationship between students’ achievement, aspirations, interest and capital in science was complex. A typology of ‘student science engagement’ was developed, mapping seven forms of student participation in science. British Black Caribbean students were the least likely, and British Indians were the most likely, to be engaged in science. Many British Bangladeshi students expressed science career aspirations, despite their tendency to have low science achievements, and most British Chinese pupils achieved highly in science, even though few have expressed aspirations towards science. The typology and reasons for these variations were explored using Bourdieu’s notions of habitus and capital, and sociological theorisations of identity (e.g. exploring the purchase of ‘science identity’). The study builds on the small but growing understanding regarding how minority ethnic students experience, aspire and identify with science.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available