An investigation into the problem of science interest amongst junior and senior high school students

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Wilde, Norman Wesley
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Education has come a long way since the days of the Dame School and the mass-packed classrooms of Bell and Lancaster. While some classrooms may occassionally show vestiges of both these humble beginnings, there is plenty of evidence of pupils learning their lessons because they like them rather than because their teachers say, "You'll learn this and like it!" This liking of a school subject is often based upon an interest in that subject. Teachers of science, in common with other teachers, have long been aware that their educational task is easier when pupils are interested. A multitude of studies in the field of interest in science have been undertaken in the past. Many of these were based on the concept of discovering the pupils' interest in science - the science areas they were interested in at various age levels - and then attempting to build a curriculum around these science areas. Once the curriculum has been decided upon, whether by the pupils or otherwise, the question, "To what extent are pupils interested in science?" is still with us. There have been several investigations made that attempted to answer this question. Frandsen's investigation, for example, deals with interest in science and achievement in science. Studies reported in the Times Educational Supplement deal with interest in school subjects and the effect of examinations upon interest. Both these investigations, as with other investigations in the field of interest, rely upon some type of questionnaire. In the opinion of the writer a questionnaire often has intrinsic weaknesses. A candidate, particularly a child, answering a questionnaire has a tendency to respond to it as he thinks he should. Thus, intentionally or unintentionally, he sometimes reveals the ideal self - what he would like to rather than what he actually is. This paper attempts to obviate, at least partially, this weakness of questionnaires by using voluntary activities as a criterion of interest and then comparing this to a questionnaire score on a percentage basis. Few people today would minimize the importance of science as a subject of study, The changes in human living in the last century have been influenced more by science than any other subject.