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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Barmby, P., Kind, P. & Jones, K. (2008). Examining Changing Attitudes in Secondary School Science. International Journal of Science Education 30(8): 1075-1093.

Author(s) from Durham


This study, carried out in England, examined the variation of attitudes towards science over the first three years of secondary schooling and with gender. The study in question was part of an evaluation of the "Lab in a Lorry" project, and involved 932 pupils completing a pre-measure questionnaire containing items looking at six separate attitude constructs. From these data, two main patterns emerged; pupils' attitudes towards science declined as they progressed through secondary school, and this decline was more pronounced for female pupils. These conclusions are largely in agreement with previous studies in this field. However, in examining separate attitude constructs, we were also able to identify that the sharpest decline occurred specifically for pupils' attitude towards learning science in school. Furthermore, using linear regression, we identified that, as pupils progress through school, this construct becomes a greater influence on attitudes towards future participation in science. Therefore, we also concluded that learning science in school is a partiuclar area that needs to be concentrated upon, if we are to improve children's attitudes towards science. In the final part of the paper, we drew on interview data obtained from 44 pupils involved in the Lab in a Lorry study. Pupils' comments in these interviews provided further insight into why pupils are "switched off" by school science. We drew out the most prevalent themes that emerged in the interviews, in order to provide further insight into why pupils do not enjoy science in school.

School of Education