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The role of feedback in young people’s academic choices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Yvonne Skipper, Patrick J. Leman

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-467
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number4
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Accepted/In press9 Feb 2017
E-pub ahead of print13 Mar 2017


King's Authors


Women are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects with more girls leaving these subjects at every stage in education. The current research used a scenario methodology to examine the impact of teacher feedback on girls’ and boys’ choices to study a specific science subject, engineering. British participants aged 13 (N = 479) were given scenarios where a new teacher encouraged them to take engineering using person feedback which focussed on their abilities, process feedback which focussed on their effort levels or gave them no reason. Results suggested that both boys and girls were more likely to select to study engineering when they received person feedback rather than process or no feedback. Young people also thought that ability was more important to being successful in science than in non-science subjects.This suggests young people feel that ability is needed to succeed in science subjects and person feedback can lead them to believe that they have this ability. Therefore, teacher feedback which gives ability attributions for possible success could be used to encourage more young people to persist in science. However, the potentially negative longer term outcomes of ability attributions and how they may be negated are also discussed.

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