How Did Girls and Boys Preferences in Science Change
Between year 7 or 8 and why?
Richard Brennan and James Schofield
We came up with our question because between us our views contradicted each other and so we decided to put this to the test and see who most people agreed with. We disagreed as one of us thought that science was better in year 7 and the other thought that year 8 science was better.
“ Boys were found to have higher initial status on attitudes toward science and their attitudes dropped faster than girls” (George, 2000)
We think that this shows that boys in general preferred science in Year 7 and so did girls but not by as much. However we can’t be sure, as this was in the USA and it was 5 years ago and we have not yet proven this with our final results. This slightly differs to what we want to find out because we needed to find out whether this was the case in our school and why. This is also backed by an assembly taken at our school on the questionnaires that Exeter University handed out which implied that year 8s found year 7 science more interesting. Design:
We decided to take our research by setting up questionnaires for roughly 60 pupils from year 8 at Churston Grammar. Our
questionnaires were easy to answer as they had a tick scale, which let pupils express their views more openly. We used emotional faces to express what they meant more clearly (see appendix 1). After analysing the results from the questionnaires we decided to set up 5 interviews with the pupils whose expressed opinions interested us. We made sure that these pupils had different views and classes so that we had a wider range of answers and opinions. We decided to both take out a questionnaire and some interviews so that we would have both general and some personal opinions as well. On the report we thought it was important to keep peoples identities confidential, to prevent embarrassment, this also meant that people could be clear and honest without worrying about what others thought for they wouldn’t know who would have said it. For both our questionnaires
and interviews we tried to get as much information out of the pupils as we could, we also tried to get an honest opinion out of them.
Collecting the Data:
In our data we decided to take questionnaires of 2 of the forms in our
year, so that they would have the best memory of the question that
we were to ask them. We chose to take out the questionnaires during
tutor time, in both of our forms. Then after analysing the results
gathered, we took out our interviews in the tutor periods, we did this
because the pupils may not have wanted to give up their lunch times.
graph 1 – Importance of Science
highest reading – science is important for the future – average 4.25
average importance score 3.42 for boys, 3.24 for girls
girls ranked science more highly for home and future
both ranked science as important in education
graph 2 – enjoyment of year 7 topics
average rankings for boys 3.44 in year 7, 3.29 in year 8
average rankings for girls 3.45 in year 7, 3.22 in year 8
Overall boys ranked science as more important than girls, but girls on average think that science is more important to the future and more important in their area. We found that in general boys preferred the topics in science to girls in year 8 but that there was little difference in year 7. Overall both genders preferred year 7 topics better.
We think that when teaching it is important to be more specific about the application of science for girls, whereas for boys they just seemed to need encouraging. The idea that most students preferred science in year 7 might be because the teaching suited them following on from primary and that the topics were more interesting. Overall we believe that our research was carried out effectively and our results were fairly pleasing. We found that overall the boys and girls attitudes have dropped from year 7 to year 8 but less than the national statistics would predict.
George, R. (2000) Journal of Science Education and Technology, 9, 213-225.