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ASPIRES research: project blog


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


Archive for the 'Findings' Category

Meeting of the ASPIRES 2 Advisory Board

By IOE Digital, on 26 July 2016

— Emily MacLeod

Thank you to all members of our Advisory Board who attended this year’s meeting earlier this month. Members present were:

  • Professor Louise Archer – ASPIRES 2
  • Professor Derek Bell – College of Teachers
  • Kate Bellingham – Women’s Engineering Society
  • Dr. Jen DeWitt – ASPIRES 2
  • Professor Becky Francis – ASPIRES 2 & Institute of Education, UCL
  • Professor Sir John Holman – Wellcome Trust
  • Emily MacLeod – ASPIRES 2
  • Katherine Mathieson – British Science Association
  • Dr. Rosalind Mist – The Royal Society
  • Dr. Julie Moote – ASPIRES 2
  • Nicole Morgan – Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Karen Powell – Economic & Social Research Council
  • Shaun Reason – The Association for Science Education
  • Stephen Stanton – Department for Education
  • Charles Tracy – Institute of Physics
  • Lucy Yeomans – ASPIRES 2

During the meeting ASPIRES 2 researchers summarised the findings from our Year 11 data collection, and set out plans for the project’s Year 13 data collection starting this autumn. Advisory Board members discussed the importance and influence of the research and used their own experience and expertise to feed into plans for the project’s final data collection cycle. Further discussions centred around how the project’s findings, particularly around age and gender, are supported by findings from across the education research and science education sectors.

The meeting ended with a focus on impact; Board members reported how ASPIRES/2 findings have impacted on their own work, and discussed how it can continue to do so in a meaningful way.

 To find out more about our research, or how we work with our Advisory Board members, please contact us.

ASPIRES 2 responds to inquiry on science communication

By IOE Digital, on 14 June 2016

— Emily MacLeod

In May, ASPIRES 2 researchers Professor Louise Archer and Dr. Julie Moote submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into science communication. The purpose of the inquiry was to investigate how the Government, scientists, the media and others encourage and facilitate public awareness of, and engagement in, science. Following the submission Professor Louise Archer gave oral evidence to the Committee at the Natural History Museum on 14th June.

The evidence submitted used findings from ASPIRES 2’s national survey of over 13,000 15-16 year olds, and focussed on the science communication strategies being taken to encourage young people to study STEM subjects post-16 and to encourage those young people into STEM careers. We recommended that science communication efforts must work to diversify the image of ‘who does science’, and showcase science qualifications and skills as useful for a wide variety of careers.



Is GCSE Triple Science making the STEM skills gap wider?

By IOE Digital, on 21 April 2016

— Emily MacLeod

When the 2006 GCSE reforms introduced the entitlement to take Triple Science from 2008, it was hoped that this widely praised three-qualification route would go some way to addressing the country’s STEM skills gap. But following the data collected from our national survey of over 13,000 Year 11 students, in addition to our longitudinal interviews with 70 of these students, researchers at ASPIRES 2 are questioning whether the Triple Science route really is serving society’s STEM needs. Emergent findings suggest:

  1. Socially disadvantaged students are less likely to study Triple Science – In our study, the most socially disadvantaged students were two and a half times less likely to study Triple Science compared to the most advantaged. We also found that students in middle and bottom sets were much less likely to study Triple Science than their peers in top sets.
  2. Students don’t choose their KS4 science options – their schools do – Despite the notion of ‘choice’ surrounding the GCSE selection process, 61% of the students surveyed taking Triple Science had this decided for them. What’s more, many of the remaining students indicated that they had been steered into taking a particular choice by their school.
  3. Students think that Triple Science is only for the ‘clever’ kids – Triple Science was overwhelmingly seen as the route for those who are ‘clever’ and ‘sciency’, both by those taking it and those taking alternative options. Our interviews showed that this left Double Science and Science BTEC students feeling inferior, especially in schools which  threaten to ‘bump down’ Triple Science students to Double Science if they fail to achieve the top grades.


First ASPIRES 2 Project Spotlight Report is published

By IOE Digital, on 15 March 2016


— Emily MacLeod

Last month we launched the first of our Project Spotlight reports; ASPIRES 2 Project Spotlight: Year 11 Students’ Views of Careers Education and Work Experience.

The report, written by ASPIRES 2 Director Professor Louise Archer and Research Associate Dr. Julie Moote, summarises our project findings on careers education provision following our most recent data collection. Using survey data from over 13,000 Year 11 students, and interviews with 70 of these and 62 of their parents, we found that there is a demand for more and better careers education from students.Cultural-Capital-Info-236x300

One of our key findings was that careers education is not currently reaching those most in need it; careers provision is not ‘patchy’, but is ‘patterned’ in terms of social inequalities. Girls, minority ethnic, working-class, lower-attaining and students who are unsure of their aspirations or who plan to leave education post-16 are all significantly less likely to report receiving careers education.


Download the Project Spotlight here.

ASPIRES 2 responds to inquiry on careers education

By IOE Digital, on 10 February 2016

— Emily MacLeod

In January, ASPIRES 2 researchers Professor Louise Archer and Dr. Julie Moote submitted evidence to the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy’s inquiry into careers advice and guidance. The purpose of the inquiry was to assess the quality and impartiality of current careers provision, and evaluate how careers advice in schools and colleges can help to match skills with labour market needs. Following the submission Professor Louise Archer gave oral evidence to the Committee at the House of Commons on 8th February.

The evidence submitted used findings from ASPIRES 2’s national survey of over 13,000 15-16 year olds to report on students’ experiences of, and satisfaction with, careers education and work experience.



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

By IOE Digital, 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.