A Study into the Participation and Engagement of Young People with Physics in Post-Compulsary Education

Hill, Marianne C.M. (2012) A Study into the Participation and Engagement of Young People with Physics in Post-Compulsary Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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Abstract

This report, submitted in conjunction with the portfolio, presents an investigation into the participation and engagement of young people with physics in post-compulsory education. This study explores the reasons why we must encourage more young people to study physics, as it is a challenging yet rewarding discipline that can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities. The study also considers how we can encourage more young people to study physics, including factors inside and outside of the classroom.
The portfolio consists of ten separate reports, each addressing a different aspect of the study. The study is of a mixed methods design, employing a range of qualitative and quantitative data, as well as two action research projects. As a professional doctorate study, it is based largely upon my professional practice as a teacher and manager at a large college of further education. Whilst the college is based in the north east of England, my findings are not confined to this geographical region, but extend across the UK.
The study shows that after considerable interventions and initiatives, the number of GCSE candidates in physics has increased over the past ten years, with the gender balance being almost equal. Within post-compulsory education, the situation is very different, as the number of young people who study physics at A level and university is far less than we need to fill the ‘skills gap’ in the UK. The gender issue becomes far more prominent at each stage of the educational ladder. It was found that whilst the teacher can have a profound influence upon students’ enjoyment of a subject, external factors such as parents, educational establishment, role models and the media can all influence the decisions made by young people in post-compulsory education. These factors are investigated within this study. One of the main findings was that physics, as an academic subject, is thriving in the independent sector and prestigious universities, and is arguably becoming an ‘elite’ subject.
The report concludes with a series of recommendations for teachers, educational establishments and external organisations, which are aimed at increasing the numbers of young people who progress to study physics in post-compulsory education. Some of the suggestions include increasing the number of specialist physics teachers (particularly female physics teachers) and improving the inter-personal skills of physics teachers. The report also suggests that due to the current status of teachers in further education, it is difficult to attract and retain good physics teachers when there are many other financially rewarding careers available for physics graduates.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Education > Educational Research
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2013 11:07
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 20:40
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/3288

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