University students’ choices of science and mathematics related programmes in Mainland China

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Abstract

The booming economy of mainland China is contemporaneous with the large increase in both the number and percentage of high school students (especially female students) being admitted into universities. As already identified in many European Union countries and USA, there is a common concern among educators and academics that requires a rigorous study on factors influencing recruitment, retention and gender equity in science, technology, and mathematics (STM) higher education. Based on the international comparative research project called IRIS (Interests & Recruitment in Science), we have administered the Chinese version of the IRIS questionnaire instrument to over 2,700 first year undergraduates in 3 large universities (with one comprehensive university, one focused on teacher training and one focused on science and technology) in Guangzhou of China. Those respondents are enrolled in 19 different majors as related to physics, chemistry, biology, food science, technology, computer and mathematics etc. Around 5% of the respondents were further interviewed to collect detailed information about their views or rationales on certain questionnaire items. In this paper, we shall base on the present questionnaire survey to provide research-based evidence to address the frequently asked questions regarding the relationship between young people’s educational choices and their priorities, considerations, values and experiences on which young people base their educational choices. The IRIS instrument also includes questions on the relative importance of various kinds of school experiences and out-of-school experiences (as related to science and technology) on the students’ choice of university programmes. The differences in findings between genders, university types and programme types will also be reported. Besides, we shall discuss about (a) the implications for the educational changes or reforms as those policy makers, curriculum designers in STM, and heads of higher education institutions will be inspired to review, update, or re-design their educational policies, academic programmes in STM as based on young people’s choices and interest of study and career and (b) how the local educators, education officers and teachers could provide well-informed guidance or advice on further study to their senior secondary students.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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mathematics
China
science
student
university
questionnaire
comprehensive university
educator
school
education
experience
gender
comparative research
female student
educational policy
teacher training
physics
biology
equity
research project

Citation

Yeung, Y. Y., Cheung, K. L., & Sjøberg, S. (2013, July). University students’ choices of science and mathematics related programmes in Mainland China. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference of East-Asian Association for Science Education, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China.