WHY CHOOSE PHYSICS – IN NORWAY AND FINLAND ?

TitleWHY CHOOSE PHYSICS – IN NORWAY AND FINLAND ?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHenriksen, EK, Angell, C, Lavonen, J, Isnes, A
JournalJournal of Baltic Science Education
Volume3
Issue1
Start Page5-12
Date PublishedMarch/2003
Type of ArticleOriginal article
ISSN1648-3898
Keywordseducational choices, educational policy, school physics
Abstract

Questionnaire data from Norway and Finland were compared to explore the factors that influence upper secondary school students' choice of subjects (notably physics). Results indicate that personal and emotional factors (interest, abilities), but also practical factors (entrance requirements, usefulness) are keywords for students' choice. Although both Finnish and Norwegian students claim to base their educational choice mainly on personal interest and ability, there is a tendency for Norwegians to be relatively more influenced by background and Finns to be more influenced by the educational system (teachers, entrance requirements). These differences are discussed in light of educational policy and sociological theory.

Thus, our recommendations based on this small study are:

· More attention should be given to educational choice guidance in secondary school – probably particularly so in Norway. Physics in particular might profit from this, and physics teachers should take an active role as "ambassadors" for their subject.

· If recruitment is to be improved, physics needs to get away from the image of being difficult and work-intensive; probably also from the prevailing culture of the subject (which is likely to be even harder to change).

· Finally, there is a need for more research exploring the interaction between students’ socioeconomic background, their interest and performance in various school subjects (notably physics), and their actual educational choices.

Refereed DesignationRefereed