CGHE Webinar 348

The Swing to Science: Retrospects and Prospects

Date: Tuesday, 18 April 2023 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar, registration required
Speaker(s):
  • Peter Mandler, University of Cambridge

Event Materials

This event is now archived and we are pleased to provide the following event media and assets, along with the original event overview.

There has been an under-discussed ‘swing to science’ in student choices at school and university in the UK since the late 2000s. Attempts to explain subject choice tend to focus on periods when students are seen to be making the ‘wrong’ choices – i.e. swings away​ from science. So the swing to science in the last 15 years has received less attention. This talk looks at the reasons for the earlier swing away​ from science between the 1960s and the 2000s, and considers which factors no longer operate or have gone into reverse, and whether there are new factors in play. Even when the swing began is hard to determine. It calls for a deeper dive into student motivation than can be provided by quantitative exercises based on either investment or Bourdieusian models. What lies behind reported motivations such as ‘interest’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘utility’ or ‘career’? How do these motivations differ in meaning and intensity between people of different social classes and genders? Can we parse the swing as not about science vs humanities but as about particular kinds of science and non-science subjects?

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