To choose or not to choose – is there anything interesting: Finnish girls’ and boys’ opinions about physics Kalle Juuti
Background • Increasing the number of people in non-traditional occupations has been seen as a way to develop a more equal society. • There are few girls in technical and science-related occupations, but more qualified personnel are needed • Pupils’ opinions or benchmarking? • Two surveys: • Reasons to choose • Interest in context
Predictors for the choice of science • Future relevance (future studies or occupation) • Interest in the contents of science subjects • Interest in a context where certain science domain is met • Interest in an activity type of students or method of studying subject or teaching methods used • Achievement • Difficulty and appreciation of the topic
Research questions • How interested are pupils in studying physics in this context? • How do boys’ and girls’ interests to study physics differ in this context?
Methods for questions 1 and 2 • Survey, Finnish secondary schools, 3626 pupils, age 15, • Pupils were asked to state: “How interested are you in learning about the following?” Items were four-scaled from not interested to very interested. Altogether, there were 35 items probing interest.
Contexts • Ideal science context: “Linear and circular motion caused by forces” • Science and technology in society context: “Traffic safety (acceleration and braking)” • Technical application context: “Forces acting in bridges, and building and planning of structures” • Human being context: “Forces acting in muscles when using them in sports” • Investigation context: “Studying linear and circular motion and how they are caused by different forces” • Technology, design and construction context: “Making a mechanical toy, like a balancing object”
Context sum variable • If a respondent stated not interested for every context item, he or she gave the sum variable score 1, and if a respondent stated very interested in every item, he or she gave the sum variable score 4
Ideal science context moderate effect Meansg: 1.72b: 2.20
Science and technology in society moderate effect meansg: 2.02B: 2.33
Technology application large effect Means g: 1.87 b: 2.4
Human being context means g: 2.24 b: 2.20 no effect betweenboys and girlsinterest
Investigations means g: 1.97 B 2.15 small effect
Technology design and construction means g: 1.86 b: 2.17 small effect
IMPLICATION FOR TEACHING the measurement of physiological processes of the human body with technical applications Discussion • Girls responded very sensitively to a change of context • Textbooks: ideal “bodies” moving, warming up, or absorbing radiation. Textbook examples are typically technical applications • Boys found technical application most interesting context largest gender difference • Girls found human being most interestin context no gender difference
Research questions • How important the reason to reject or choose physic is? • How do boys’ and girls’ opinions of importance differ in this reason?
Methods for questions 3 and 4 • Survey, Finnish upper secondary school students (N= 2934), age 17 • Students were asked to answer questions for rejecters’ or for choosers’ items. • Items were five-scaled from not important reason to very important reason. • Altogether, there were 16 items probing choosing and 19 items probing rejecting physics.
Reasons to reject physics, examples of items • ”My future studies do not require physics” • ”I am not competent in physics” • ”Content in physic is too masculine” • ”Negative message from media” • ”Mother or another female relative have negative opinion” about physics studies”
small effect Moderate effect Reasons to reject physics
reasons to choose physics, examples of items • ”Physics is useful in my future occupation” • ”Physics is interesting subject” • ”I am talented in physics” • ”Positive attitude of my friends (e.g. my friend choose too)” • ”Physics teacher supported to choose”
small effect Reasons to choose physics
IMPLICATIONS Informing pupils about future relevance Help pupils to be aware of actors influencing their choices Discussion 2 • Role of parents, counselling, media etc. are viewed small • Small gender differences, especially in group of choosers • Future relevance most important reason • Reasoning or justifying choises…