09 SES 11 B, Findings from International Comparative Achievement Studies: Attitudes Towards Mathematics and Science
Parallel Paper Session
The research issue “Natural science and technical fields of study are not very attractive for students” is discussed within this paper. To be more specific, we investigate three research questions:
- Are the high achieving students (upper secondary) interested in natural science and technical fields of study?
- What differences in socioeconomic background have university students of natural science and technical fields compared to students of other fields?
- What differences in upper secondary educational track have university students of natural science and technical fields compared to students of other fields?
The aim of this paper is to analyze situation in the Czech Republic with a focus on interest in natural science and technical fields and on educational aspirations (Kloosterman et al. 2009) so that we can better understand aspects that influence one`s interest to study certain fields (Baram-Tsabari, Yarden 2009; Margolis 2001; OECD 2007; Simpson, Oliver 1990).
Objectives and research framework
Despite the need to understand an ever-broader spectrum of themes in the area of natural and technical sciences in today’s world, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2007) has reported that the Czech Republic has seen a decreasing proportion of university students majoring in technical and science subjects (Palecková, 2007). This is a trend that is present in most developed countries, as shown by international studies (Eurydice, 2006; OECD, 2007).
At the same time, demand in the labour market has shown the complete opposite trend. Although graduates of natural sciences have higher average incomes than graduates of the humanities or social sciences, employers have been pointing out a shortage of qualified graduates. Unfortunately, the fields of natural sciences and engineering are perceived as ”too difficult” by many young people.
This paper deals with an interest in educational and occupational career in natural sciences, technology or engineering. With reference to knowledge economy concept (Veselý 2004; World Bank 2010), we suppose that high-professionals in natural sciences, technology and engineering significantly contribute to development in science and innovations of a country. Therefore two groups with the highest potential to become high-professionals are of our focus – university students and 15-year old with university aspirations.
Eurydice. 2006. „Science teaching in schools in Europe: Policies and research“. Brussels: Eurydice.
Baram-Tsabari, A., A. Yarden. 2005. „Characterizing children`s spontaneous interests in science and technology“. International Journal of Science Education 27 (7): 803-826.
Kloosterman, R. et al. 2009. „Parental education, children's performance and the transition to higher secondary education: trends in primary and secondary effects over five Dutch school cohorts (1965–99)“. British Journal of Sociology 60 (2): 377-398.
Margolis, E. et al. (eds.) 2001. The Hidden Curriculum in Higher Education. London: Routledge.
OECD. 2007. PISA 2006 Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World. Volume 1: Analysis. Paris: OECD.
Paleckova, J. et al. 2007. „Main findings from the PISA 2006 survey: Do Czech students cope with science?“. Prague: ÚIV.
Simpson, R. D., J.S. Oliver. 1990. „A summary of major influences on attitude toward and achievement in science among adolescent students“. Science Education, 74(1), 1–18.
Veselý, A. 2004. „Knowledge Society as a Theoretical Concept“. Sociologický časopis/Czech Sociological Review 40 (4): 433-446.
World Bank. 2010. Knowledge Assessment Methodology. [online]. World Bank. [cit. 2010-02-08] Available from WWW:
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