Predicting adolescent girls' intentions to study science in senior high school
Erin Mackenzie, Nathan Berger and Kathryn Holmes
Western Sydney University, Australia
Women continue to be under-represented in science fields in Australia and internationally. Efforts to fix the 'leaky pipeline' producing this inequality are frustrated by declining enrolments in higher-level school science subjects. Researchers and policymakers need a better understanding of the factors which influence girls' decisions to take science in senior high school. In this pilot study, we examined whether growth mindset in science, achievement goal orientation, self-efficacy, and perceived peer and teacher support influenced intentions to study senior biology, chemistry, and physics. Participants were 125 adolescent girls aged between 14-17 years living in Australia. Online surveys were used to gather demographic and attitudinal data in a cross-sectional design. Regressions were used to examine the psychological and social factors that predicted subject-selection intentions. Self-efficacy in biology and social support from science teachers positively predicted intentions to study biology. Endorsing a growth mindset in science positively predicted intentions to study chemistry and physics. Self-efficacy for learning chemistry and physics positively predicted intentions to study those subjects. The results suggest that girls who have greater confidence in their ability in science and endorse a growth mindset are more likely to continue their study of physics and chemistry in the senior years of high school.
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|Authors: Erin Mackenzie PhD (corresponding author) is a Lecturer in the School of Education and Centre for Educational Research at Western Sydney University, Kingswood NSW, Australia. Erin's research interests include adolescent online interactions, coping, and the role of psychological and social factors in adolescent girls' participation in STEM.|
Nathan Berger PhD is a lecturer in Education at the Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University. Nathan's teaching and research interests encompass technologies education, career and education aspirations, and learning sciences with a focus on motivation.
Kathryn Holmes PhD is Professor of Education (STEM) and Director of the Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University. Kathryn is interested in improving participation and achievement in STEM education, particularly for women and girls.
Please cite as: Mackenzie, E., Berger, N. & Holmes, K. (2021). Predicting adolescent girls' intentions to study science in senior high school. Issues in Educational Research, 31(2), 574-585. http://www.iier.org.au/iier31/mackenzie.pdf