Science

Teens Like Science, Not Science Class, Study Finds

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — June 10, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It turns out liking science isn’t the same as liking science class.

A new report from the AmGen Foundation and Change the Equation, both of which advocate for STEM education, finds that while teenagers are interested in subjects like physics, biology, and engineering, they tend not to enjoy their in-school classes.

The report’s authors argue that this discrepancy means there’s room both in and out of school to dramatically improve STEM education offerings for teens, mostly by making them more hands-on and engaging.

The report is based on an online survey of more than 1,500 teens from around the country.


See also: 2 in 5 High Schools Don’t Offer Physics, Analysis Finds


Some 81 percent of teens said that they were interested in science. Seventy-three percent were interested in biology in particular. But only 37 percent of students said they enjoy their science class, and even fewer — 33 percent — liked biology class. That’s less than the 48 percent who said they enjoyed non-science classes.

While many teens find more hands-on experiences like field trips and experiments to be most compelling, most instruction in science class involves either textbooks or in-class discussion:

The survey also examined the relationship between students’ family income and access to and interest in STEM fields. Lower-income students were less likely to know an adult involved in biology and less likely to participate in a science club.

Overall, more than 80 percent of teens reported that they thought knowing adults in their desired field of work might help them advance, but just about a third actually knew adults in that field.

The authors of the AmGen and Change the Equation report argue that schools should adopt more inquiry-based STEM curricula and that teachers should receive training in how to teach it. They also argue for stronger ties between businesses and community members and schools.

STEM often makes news when students create or achieve remarkable things—consider the students at the White House Science Fair, who shared projects related to everything from pollution to artificial intelligence. The subjects are a priority for federal, state, and local policymakers, who often raise concerns about the dearth of young people pursuing degrees and career in STEM. The Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to No Child Left Behind, includes more flexibility for districts and states looking to create or support STEM programs. But this survey hints at the fact that in many schools, science education is still less-than-inspiring.

A few other findings from the report:

Image
Infographic via Amgen Foundation


Related stories:


For more news and information on reading, math, and STEM instruction:

And sign up here to get alerts in your email inbox when stories are published on Curriculum Matters.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Science Opinion Four Good Science Teaching Strategies & How to Use Them
Three science educators share their "go-to" teaching strategies, including encouraging student talk & implementing project-based learning.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Science Opinion The Three Most Effective Instructional Strategies for Science—According to Teachers
Three science educators share their favorite instructional strategies, including incorporating a sense of play in their classes.
9 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Science Make Science Education Better, More Equitable, Says National Panel
States must take steps to ensure that all students get a fair shot at learning science, says the National Academies of Science report.
3 min read
Illustration of father and child working on computer.
Getty
Science Q&A Many Schools Don't Teach About the Science of Vaccines. Here's Why They Should
Schools play an important role in confronting misinformation and mistrust in vaccines by helping students understand how they work.
7 min read
Ainslee Bolejack, freshman at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh, Kansas, prepares to receive her first COVID-19 vaccine on May 17, 2021, at Topeka High. Unified School District 501 held a clinic at all their high schools welcoming students now 12-years-old and up to receive their vaccination.
Freshman Ainslee Bolejack prepares to receive her first COVID-19 vaccine on May 17, 2021, at Topeka High School in Kansas. Unified School District 501 held a clinic at all its high schools for students 12 and older to receive their vaccinations.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP