In and out of school science engagement: Identifying antecedents and underlying processes

Year: 2018

Author: Burns, Emma, Martin, Andrew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
Science education research has noted in the importance of both in and out of school engagement in promoting students’ lasting interest and learning in science (Jensen & Buckley, 2014; Woods-McConney, Oliver, McConney, Schibeci & Maor, 2014). Given the decline in science-subject enrolment at the university level in Australia (and in many other western countries; Woods-McConney et al., 2014), it is important to examine the factors and processes that may underpin in and out of school science engagement during secondary school. According to social cognitive theory (SCT; Bandura, 1997), parental support, self-efficacy, and personal goal setting are critical antecedents of engagement. Recent work by Burns and colleagues (2018) demonstrated that personal best (PB) goal setting is a viable inclusion to the social cognitive framework. As such, the present investigation, drawing from SCT and recent science education research, seeks to understand the role of parent support for science and students’ science self-efficacy and PB goal setting in their in and out of school science engagement. Extant previous work has established positive associations between these factors, such that parent support positively predicts self-efficacy, PB goal setting, and engagement; self-efficacy positively predicts PB goal setting and engagement; and, PB goal setting positively predicts engagement (for review, see Burns et al., 2018). However, the majority of this work has been largely domain general, rather than specific to science, and little to no work has examined the antecedents of in and out of school science engagement simultaneously. As such, an additional aim of this research is to extend understanding of these relationships within the domain of science education. To do so, the present investigation, based on a sample of N = 6000 secondary high school students from NSW, used structural equation modelling to assess the following process: parent support for science positive predicts science self-efficacy, PB goal setting, and in and out of school engagement; self-efficacy positively predicts PB goal setting and in and out of school engagement; and, PB goal setting positively predicts in and out of school engagement. Findings indicate support for this process and suggest that parent support, self-efficacy, and PB goal setting have a positive effect on student in and out of school science engagement. Taken together, these findings add to the growing body of work surrounding different forms of science engagement.

Back