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ASPIRES research: project blog


Studying the science and career aspirations of 10-23 year olds.


I still like science, but I still don’t want to be a scientist

By IOE Blog Editor, on 1 December 2015

— Emily MacLeod

Here at ASPIRES 2 we’re building on the work of our previous five-year study, ASPIRES, which collected data about science education and aspirations from over 9,000 students, and their parents, in years 6, 8 and 9 (ages 10-14). Using surveys and interviews ASPIRES found that, although most young people enjoy learning science, only a small percentage of students (15%) said that they aspire to be a scientist.

The ASPIRES 2 team, headed by Professor Louise Archer, is continuing to study the cohort of students and parents from our first project. Our latest ASPIRES 2 survey, of over 13,000 year 11 students, shows that this trend is continuing; 58% of the 15/16 year olds surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they learn interesting things in science lessons, but only 14% aspire to a career in science.

At ASPIRES 2 we think that more must be done to boost what we call the ‘science capital’ of students, because this is a key indicator of how likely a student is to continue to study, and ultimately work in, science. For instance we found that many students are not aware of the transferability of science qualifications – but those who are, are ten times more likely to plan to study science post-16.

We’re keen to apply our findings to policy and practice, and we’re currently working with organisations in the hope of ultimately increasing the number of students who continue to study science post-16. Get in touch if you want to be a part of this, or to learn more about our ongoing research.

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