Is a Direct Approach to Student-Level Engagement Factors the Crucial Missing Link in Science Education Reform? An International Perspective with New Zealand As a Case in Point
Exploring the content, focus and emphasis in science education reform in first world and developing countries, this paper argues that the lack of a direct approach to and inclusion of student-level related factors is a fundamental weakness of such reform initiatives. These reform initiatives in the United States of America, China, Japan, England and Europe have focused primarily on issues related to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and teacher training, retraining and professional development as well as resources. In general, these programmes have not been successful, especially for minority and disadvantaged students. Notwithstanding the importance of the content and pedagogical factors just mentioned, research reveals that student-related factors are usually assessed but are never addressed directly. Using the findings for New Zealand in the TIMSS 2002/2003 study as well as information from PISA studies, this paper identifies significant student-level related factors such as academic self-efficacy, academic task-value, interest in science, and motivation orientations that were related to science achievement outcomes and science reform initiatives in New Zealand. Thus identified, statistical analyses showed that these student-level factors were significantly related to science reform initiatives in New Zealand and to science achievement in particular: confirming the argument for their inclusion in future science reform initiatives.
Keywords: Science Education Reform, Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Academic Task-Value, Interest & Achievement
Dr. W. Marc Jackman
Assistant Professor, School for Studies in Learning, Cognition & Education, The University of Trinidad & Tobago
Prof. Michael A. R. Townsend
Professor of Educational Psychology, School of Education at Albany