A longitudinal study on boys and girls career aspirations and interest in technology
Faculty of Social Sciences. Instructional and Educational Sciences
Research in science and technological education. - Abingdon
, p. 366-386
University of Antwerp
Background: More young people, boys and girls, are needed in technical studies and professions, as the relative number of students in technology-related studies has been decreasing in most industrialised countries. To overcome this decrease several countries implemented mandatory technology classes in the curriculum of secondary education. Purpose: This study has two goals: exploring the evolution of pupils' interest during the year(s) they attend the mandatory technology classes and exploring determining characteristics for differences in boys' and girls' attitude change over time. Sample: This study focuses on data gathered in the first and second grade of the first cycle in general secondary education in the North region of Belgium, Flanders. In a first stage we selected a good representation of geographically spread schools (n=20), from which over 1300 students participated. Design and methods: A longitudinal study with eight measurement occasions spread over the course of two years is presented in order to capture the evolution of students' attitudes, making use of a multilevel growth model analysis. Results: The results show that students' interest in technology decreases over time, although at the end of each grade interest is increasing again. Boys' and girls' interest in technology also evolves a little different in the first cycle of secondary education. For career aspirations we didn't see any significant difference between boys and girls. Boys' and girls' aspirations decrease over time with a little increase by the end of the second grade. Students with a more technological curriculum also have more career aspirations in the field of technology than their peers with other curricula. Although students' perceptions about technology as a subject for boys and girls are largely stable. Conclusions: The evolution of students' attitude is far from linear, this strengthens us in the choice for a more complex analysis model and the choice for more measuring points than only at the beginning and the end when analysing students' attitudes towards technology. With this research we found that students interest and aspirations in the field of technology are not stable and do change in the first cycle of secondary education. Overall, we can conclude that if the goal of technology education at school maintains to promote 'a larger number of students in technological oriented studies and professions', there is still much to do.