Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Virginia Study Urges Early Science Education

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Virginia Study Urges Early Science Education

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.

Among a group of eighth-graders asked in 1988 what careers they wanted as adults, those reporting a science-related career were two to three times more likely to earn science and engineering degrees than those who didn't indicate such a career interest, concludes a recent study by University of Virginia researchers.

Dr. Robert H. Tai, an assistant professor of science education at the university's Curry School of Education, and U.Va. researchers Christine Qui Liu, Adam V. Maltese and Xitao Fan analyzed data from a National Educational Longitudinal Study, launched in 1988, to determine whether expectations about science made a difference in future choice of college academic study.

Tai and the research team examined a random national sample of 3,359 students who had first been surveyed in eighth grade and who received college degrees by 2000. The study focused on the survey question, "What kind of work do you expect to be doing when you are 30 years old?"

Relating this question to data collected from the same students years later, the researchers could identify those who had selected the option of science-related jobs compared to students who chose nonscience jobs and subsequently majored in life sciences or physical sciences and engineering. Those youth who wanted to go into the sciences proved two times more likely to obtain their degree in a life science and three times more likely to get a degree in the physical sciences or engineering than students who chose other career options, according to the study. …

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