Where are they now? Evaluating constructive solutions to the decline in numbers of science graduates

Year: 2005

Author: Jane, Beverley, Peeler, Eleanor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With the continual decline in numbers of students studying science at tertiary level, Australian universities continue to provide opportunities for secondary school students to participate in interesting experiments in their laboratories. But do these science experiences influence the participating students' choice of career? In this paper we discuss the effectiveness of The Siemens Science Experience (TSSE), a national program that aims to provide Year 9 students with a three-day introduction to some of the wonders of science and technology. The research involved quantitative and qualitative research methods. Participants (both past and present) responded to questionnaires offering their opinions of the program. The data gained provides a sound indicator of the medium and long-term success of the program. Data analysis revealed the effectiveness of TSSE in encouraging students to study science in Years 11 and 12, and choose careers in science. Questions asked included: Where are you now and why? What role did TSSE have in your career choice? Did the program encourage a science career, but other factors intervened? Interviews and focus groups identified changes in students' interest in science as a result of participation in TSSE. Stakeholders, including local directors and organizers, and Rotary sponsors, were also interviewed about the program.