Attracting and Retaining Science Students
2010 (English)Report (Other academic)
This research addresses an issue raised in recent reports that demonstrate that Quebec andSweden lag behind countries with emerging economies in the number of science graduates, asmeasured by the proportion of degrees earned in the sciences. Our objective was to investigate aset of factors that might, directly and/or indirectly, impact on student achievement andperseverance in science studies. We aimed to assess cultural (Quebec vs. Sweden) and genderdifferences in students’ scores on these factors, and in the strength of the relationships that thesefactors have to achievement and perseverance. Participants (N=2184) were recruited from twopopulations: students who enrolled in one of the four public Anglophone CEGEPs in Montrealthe Fall 2007 and Swedish students who attended twelfth grade in high schools in Linköping andStockholm in the school year 2007-2008. With the consent of students, demographic,achievement and enrollment data were acquired from the databases of the Quebec and Swedishministries of education. Data on independent variables: parental support (for autonomy,competence and science acculturation); teacher support (for autonomy, competence, relatednessand science acculturation); and, cognitive style (systemizing and empathizing) were collected viasurveys. Similarly, data on mediating variables: self-efficacy; five sub-scales of motivation; and,academic emotions (boredom, anxiety and enjoyment) were also collected via surveys. Data onperseverance were exclusively collected via survey in the Swedish sample. We used both surveysand information provided by college registrars to assess perseverance of Quebecers.Confirmatory Factor Analysis was used to validate instruments used in this study. ANOVA andCORRELATION were statistics used to assess differences and strengths of relationships betweenvariables. We have found that Swedish students persevere more than their Quebec counterparts.Furthermore, female students persevere less than their male peers although their achievement isnot significantly different and the achievement was found to be the most important factor inperseverance. We have also found several promising factors that might be at the root of thegender differences in perseverance, namely, female students have: higher negative emotions(anxiety and boredom); lower self-efficacy; and lower systemizing cognitive style. All of thesevariables were shown to influence perseverance. We determined that parental support for scienceacculturation is very low. Thus, teacher support for science acculturation, which influencesstudent intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy, which in turn influence perseverance, is animportant part of teachers’ classroom role. Increasing teacher support for science acculturationmay impact positively on students with lower systemizing cognitive style, encouraging them topersevere in the pursuit of a career in the sciences.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Montreal, 2010. , 95 p.
Science Education, Post-secondary Education, Perseverance, Motivation
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-61576ISBN: 978-2-921024-93-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-61576DiVA: diva2:370469