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The experiences of active participation in academic conferences for high school science students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Elizabeth Anne Cecilia Rushton, Lauren Charters, Michael Reiss

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education (2)
Early online date27 Aug 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press15 Aug 2019
E-pub ahead of print27 Aug 2019

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Abstract

Background: There is a diverse range of opportunities for high school students to undertake Independent Research Projects (IRPs) in science and this is recognised as a beneficial aspect of high school science provision. In Higher Education, the importance of students undertaking research as part of their learning, including presenting at authentic, academic conferences, is increasingly recognised.
Purpose: To date, research has little considered the experiences of high school students who present their scientific research at conferences in authentic settings, to audiences of academics and peers, and this study seeks to contribute to understanding in this area.
Sample: Twenty seven high school science students from four state-maintained schools in England participated in this study.
Design and methods: This qualitative research incorporates the ‘Students as Partners’ (SaP) approach. SaP is present in the ways in which teachers and students worked in research and in contributing to authentic conferences. SaP is also reflected in the composition of the author team of this article; the first author worked for the organisation that delivered the conferences, the second author was a school student who participated in one of the focus groups, having previously presented her research at one of these conferences, and the third author is based in a higher education institution. Student experiences were shared through five focus groups held at the students’ schools and thematic analysis was used to explore these experiences.
Results: High school students benefit from the opportunity to present their research at academic conferences, but they need support and guidance in the pre-conference and post-conference phases as well as at the conference to gain the most from the experience.

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