Sowing the seeds to build the STEM: investigating science capital in primary school children

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


There is continued unequal participation in post-16 STEM education and careers, and this study explores the notion of science capital to understand this. It is predicted that children with lower science capital will express less interest, self-efficacy and aspiration towards science.
A survey design was employed for children to self-report their engagement in and feelings towards science.
Through opportunity sampling, 504 (51.8% female) pupils in Years 4-6 from five different primary schools completed a survey of science capital, measuring various perceptions of, affinity towards and involvement with science.
Level of parental education was significantly correlated with attitudes and aspirations towards science. Girls reported more positive perceptions of science, scoring higher on science self-efficacy, and future science aspiration compared to boys. Significant between-school differences were identified. When the sample were categorised into low (34.9%), medium (62.7%) and high (2.4%) science capital, there were significant differences between groups on their future science aspiration, science self-efficacy, perceived value of science, engagement in science activities and attitudes towards science education. Cultural capital (measuring parental education and out of school activities) was also different between those with low, medium and high science capital.
The findings indicate how children’s views about science are related to environmental factors, support and extent of engagement in science-related activities. This raises implications for how children’s aspirations and self-efficacy towards science may be enhanced to promote more widespread science participation.
Period12 Sep 2019
Event titleBritish Psychological Society Psychology of Education Section Annual Conference 2019: Getting Reflective: Psychology as a Force for Good in Education
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational