A study of influences and experiences contributing to the attitudes of a group of vocational students towards science

Hinwood, Marian (2013) A study of influences and experiences contributing to the attitudes of a group of vocational students towards science. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


This research project examines perceptions and attitudes towards science of a group of Technical and Further Education students studying Beauty Therapy at Victoria University. Many members of this group displayed a high level of science anxiety as described by Mallow, (1978). They lacked confidence in their science ability and were very anxious about passing the science units in their Beauty Therapy courses, despite having successfully passed science subjects at school. Previous observations on Beauty Therapy students showed that most succeeded in their science units but still lacked confidence in their ability to apply their knowledge. The science units in Beauty Therapy are complex and require a detailed knowledge of Human Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Skin Biology, Cosmetic Chemistry, and Microbiology. The participants in the study were interviewed using a semi-structured interview working together with a questionnaire to establish background information. The probes covered the participants’ experiences in science at school together with their attitudes towards science and influences from other areas. The aim was to identify factors which undermined the confidence of these participants. The interviews were recorded and the transcripts were analysed for themes using a progressive coding process. The themes were grouped into clusters. The study showed clearly that the participants’ confidence in their science ability was undermined by their school experiences in science. It related to attitudes and pedagogies employed by a particular science teacher in their secondary school. Participants described enjoying science previously. Particular aspects identified were an inability to get help when they needed it; the use of sarcasm or derogatory remarks to discourage questions; boring lessons mostly composed of copying notes from the board or textbooks; lack of relevance and a lack of enthusiasm displayed by the teacher. This led to a situation where participants dreaded their science lessons and in some cases truancy.

Additional Information

Doctor of Education

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/24442
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Keywords TAFE, confidence, science anxiety, scientific literacy, teaching, teachers, students, Victoria University, Melbourne
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