Different Students’ Experiences of the Science Curriculum
Dr. Indira Banner (University of Leeds)
The Enactment and Impact of Science Education Reform (EISER) project is a 3 year research study examining teachers’ and students’ experiences of a major reform of the school science curriculum for 14-16 year olds in England. Data from the National Pupil Database and Pupil Level Annual School Census have shown systematic patterns of participation and attainment across science courses for students from different backgrounds. The new curriculum has a greater emphasis on socio-scientific issues and the nature of science than was previously the case. The reform was partly introduced to try and encourage more positive attitudes towards science, as well as enhancing scientific understanding that would be useful to for students’ in their every day lives.
In this talk I will focus on students’ experiences of and views towards school science following these reforms using analysis of in-depth student group discussions in 19 schools. Research on students’ views towards teaching and learning have often treated students as an undifferentiated group or have looked at intervention studies. In this research, patterns across different student groups are identified. I show that whilst virtually all students consider teachers as the most important influence on their school experiences other factors are also important. Different groups of students seem to have different experiences of teaching and learning in science. For some students a relevant curriculum involving discussion of socio-scientific issues does not automatically engender a positive response whereas others claim they are rarely involved in such activities.