science class

Survey: Students want engaging science instruction

Hands-on, real-world experiences and innovative teaching approaches would help teenagers become more involved in science learning, they say

A large majority of teenage students said they are interested in science, but most instructional approaches fail to bring the subject matter to life in an engaging way, according to a new survey.

Students on STEM: More Hands-on, Real-World Experiences“, from the Amgen Foundation and Change the Equation (CTEq), was conducted to better understand what motivates U.S. high school students to study STEM.

Surveyed students said they want additional opportunities that will inspire them to explore careers in scientific fields, and teachers are uniquely positioned to stimulate students’ interest in STEM.

The survey found that many teenagers like science and understand its value, but common teaching methods, such as teaching straight from the textbook, do not bring the subject matter to life in the same way hands-on, real-life experiences do.

Eighty-one percent of surveyed students said they are interested in science, and 73 percent expressed interest in biology. However, only 37 percent of teenagers said they like their science classes “a lot.” By contrast, 48 percent reported liking non-science classes “a lot.”

Among surveyed teenagers who are interested in biology careers, teachers (85 percent) and classes (86 percent) rank right alongside their parents or guardians (87 percent) as the biggest influences on their career decisions.

When it comes to engaging students, those surveyed said two-way, hands-on learning, like experiments and field trips, are most likely to engage them in biology, followed by tools that help them relate biology to real life. One-way communication, such as class discussions or teaching straight from the book, are least interesting, but among the most common.

Next page: Looking beyond the science classroom

Laura Ascione
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