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Promoting Youth Scientific Career Awareness and it Attractiveness through Multi-stakeholder Co-operation

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MultiCO (Promoting Youth Scientific Career Awareness and it Attractiveness through Multi-stakeholder Co-operation)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-11-30

Europe needs more scientists to solve major challenges such as those related to energy, water, waste, climate change, food, health and transport issues, as well as promoting scientifically literate citizens as decision-makers and social actors. This project undertakes research on an approach to science education, designed to attract more students towards studying science, by focusing on making school science more relevant and exciting for students, as well as raising their awareness of the multitude of science-related careers and their motivation to pursue such careers. The project also recognises that an evidence-based, attractive science education provision can enable all citizens to play a more active role in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics processes, to make informed choices and to more fully engage in a democratic, knowledge-based society.
This project examines (1) the introduction, for secondary school students (ages 13 to 15), of real life related, career-focused stories, referred to as scenarios, which initiate context- and inquiry-based science studies; (2) increasing students’ preferences for choosing science studies and their desire to reflect on an increased awareness of, and the attractiveness in pursuing, science-related careers taking into account students’ own ideas to enhance the relevance of science studies.
The intended outcome is to motivate young people to extend science studies and orient them towards considerations of undertaking science careers. This is undertaken through longitudinal studies involving interventions using motivational scenarios. These scenarios are created in multi-stakeholder co-operation between scientists in education, natural science, counselling, psychology and experts from industry and civil society organisations, policy-makers, parents, formal, as well as non-formal science educators and students. While a key aspect of the project is capturing the student viewpoint, research within the project heavily focuses on producing evidence of the impact of a career-awareness on students’ science study choices, and attitudes towards science-related careers, as well as tangible outcomes for use by researchers, teachers, teacher educators and policy-makers for future educational planning.
At the beginning of the project, the theoretically justified conceptual framework has been formulated. Four areas for literature review have been identified as: interest, motivation, attitudes, relevance; study and career choices; counselling on science based careers; science-related activities.
Some modern science-related research and innovation developments, scientists’ work and careers linked to developments as well as their work/career stories, to be introduced to students are identified in Internet and literature. List of modern and future scientific careers and descriptions of careers are created. Furthermore, perceptions, related to scientific careers, among different stakeholders as well as students’ perceptions of careers and working life skills/21st century skills are determined. Students’ perceptions are collected in working life skills workshops and stakeholders in focus group discussions. Most of the stakeholders share the concern about the lack of interest among young people towards science and point out the role of parents, peers and teachers.
The collection of the first student motivational, innovative scientific career-related scenarios are created and students’ views related to the value of these scenarios in promoting science education are identified. Students have evaluated all the scenarios created in partner countries so far.
Teachers participating in the project are provided supervisory guidelines in meetings for using scenarios in science teaching. They have carried out the first interventions using career-based scenarios with their student groups. The career-based scenarios and the following inquiry work has interested students and some of them perceived studying being more relevant than their previous science studies.
Detailed, research-based evidence on students’ science interests, attitudes, and experiences gained and future career choices have been collected at the beginning of the project interventions. Few of the students are interested in science and most of them do not plan to choose scientific careers in future.
The project has found interesting perceptions among students about the 21st century working skills. The results revealed that students have traditional views of scientific careers but also that they know the most essential skills needed in working life. The students pointed out mostly tools for working and ways of thinking and less ways of working and living in the world related skills.
Collectively the other stakeholders identified a range of careers that involve science. Some stakeholders added that though science is relevant to everyone, this does not necessarily translate to career choices. Some groups identified a wide range of science related careers, others focused on modern or future careers. There was also a view that science is related to all careers. According to the stakeholders, the basis of science-related careers is mathematics. Knowledge in physics though is equally important.
The stakeholders were asked what features of science careers made them worth pursuing and therefore of interest to students. One focus was on job prospects and financial reward. Personal reasons included variety, enjoyment, excitement and self-fulfillment leading to a sense of pride in achievement. More social reasons included that science careers were useful, and potentially helped society. Alternatively some views on what made scientific careers not worth pursing were possible feelings of isolation. There was also a perception that science careers could be boring or repetitive and also that they could lack financial remuneration and could take a long time in formal education to qualify/get experience.
The overall methodology for school interventions follows the design based research (DBR) approach: Based on a theoretical framework, educational interventions (“career-based scenarios”) are planned collaboratively with different MultiCO stakeholders (teachers, industry partners and students). To study the interventions’ impact on learning, they are implemented in authentic learning contexts (in school or in out-of-school learning environments).
Scenarios are planned and incorporated into teaching units is critical to their implementation – we need to ensure that data on the planning process is collected for reporting. Teachers have noted some of the impact of working with scenarios. Student organisation and management affects on their experience of working with the scenarios, and from teachers comments it is clear that some groups are more collaborative than others and so they are not sure about the influence of the scenario on this aspect. The scenarios do help students to be more creative exploring different professions in science; they link with what is happening in the “real world”, and show that science-related careers do not have to be “too intellectual” and hard or difficult to apply.