School survey reveals surge in science engagement

School survey reveals surge in science engagement

A survey conducted at Homewood has revealed a surge in engagement with science amongst its teenage pupils, as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the ‘Coronavirus, Science and Your Future’ survey, almost three quarters of those studying for GCSE and A levels who completed questionnaires said that Covid-19 has changed their view of the world, while half said the pandemic has changed their view of how important science and technology is in the world. A further three quarters also believe there will be more career opportunities in science and technology following the pandemic.

The survey was created by Homewood’s science department to assess the impact of the pandemic on students’ attitudes to and behaviours around science. Invitations to complete an online questionnaire were sent out during lockdown to all Homewood students, from Year 7 to the Sixth Form, and 594 students took part.

Slightly different versions of the questionnaire went to Years 7 & 8 (Key Stage 3) and to Year 9 and above (Key Stages 4 and 5).

While 60 per cent of older students (Year 9 and above) said that the pandemic had made them think more about their future career, nearly 25 per cent of those responding from Years 7 and 8 (aged 11-13) said they have considered a career in medical science since the beginning of the pandemic and nearly 20 per cent said they have considered working as a scientist in a laboratory or research setting. Additionally, 55 per cent of younger students had read articles about coronavirus in newspapers or online and a further 27 per cent said they were now more interested in the science of diseases.

Additional written answers in the questionnaire revealed other attitudinal impacts of the pandemic. Key amongst these was students’ real concern for their future and an understanding of the importance of education in it.  Many students also mentioned an increased concern and awareness about the environment and climate change, while others talked about a clearer understanding of issues of privilege and prejudices in society. In addition, many indicated that the pandemic and lockdown had made them realise the importance of family and friends, the value of communities, of working together and of not taking things for granted. Recurring words were ‘community’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘society’.

Commenting on the survey results, Principal Teacher of Science at Homewood, Meriel Conlin, said: “It’s exciting for us as teachers to find students making a real connection between science and society, witnessing a real shift in how they view science and scientists and understanding how abstract concepts they heard about in the classroom actually impact everyday lives. Seeing scientists standing alongside the country’s decision makers has also had a positive impact on perceptions.”

Summary of key findings

Years 19-13 & 14, GCSE and A level study (Key Stages 4 & 5)

  • 74 per cent of students said that Coronavirus had changed their view of the world
  • Almost 75 per cent of students think there will be more careers in science and technology because of the pandemic
  • 50 per cent of students said the pandemic has changed their view of how important science and technology is in the world
  • Almost 60 per cent of students said that the pandemic had made them think more about their future career

Years 7 and 8 (Key Stage 3)

  • 55 per cent of students had read articles about coronavirus in newspaper or online
  • 27 per cent of students said they are now more interested in the science of diseases
  • Nearly 25 per cent of students said they have considered a career in medical science since the the beginning of the pandemic
  • Nearly 20 per cent of students said that since the pandemic started they have considered working as a scientist in a laboratory or research setting