Secondary students' values and perceptions of science-related careers: responses to vignette-based scenarios.
There has been concern about the attractiveness of science-based careers to many adolescent learners, and it has been suggested that school science may not always recognise or engage personal values that are important to young people in making life choices. The present study discusses interview comments made by upper secondary level students in England when 15 young people were asked to give their personal responses to brief vignettes describing scientific careers. Using an interview-about-scenarios approach, the students were asked about whether they would feel comfortable working in the scientific careers represented. The career areas were purposefully selected because they might be considered to potentially raise issues in relation to personal values or commitments that some students might hold. A range of student perceptions relating to the mooted careers were elicited (positive, negative and indifferent), but all of the participants raised issues that impacted on the acceptability or attractiveness of at least one of the mooted scientific careers, in terms of aspects of their own personal beliefs and values systems. It is recommended that teachers and career advisors should be aware of the range of value-related considerations that influence student views of science-related careers and should consider exploring aspects of science-based careers that link to values commonly shared by young people. This exploratory study also offers indications for directions for further research exploring how learners' value systems impact upon their perceptions of science and scientific work.
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