Young children's aspiration in Science: The unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1063
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number6
Early online date23 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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