Why Students are not Enrolling in Science and Technology Based Programs
The demand for workers with Science and Technology based training continues to increase. However, Canadian high school students have little interest in studying science after they graduate. According to a new Angus Reid Survey, only 37% of Canadian teens aged 16 – 18 are interested in taking science courses at a post-secondary level. This same survey found that Canadian teens perceive people working in science related professions as intelligent, serious and not ‘cool’.
Many other disciples are also viewed negatively by high school students because of an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of the subject matter. The number of women enrolled in engineering programs has dropped from 21% to 17% in the past nine years. This is a surprising statistic considering that females make up more than half of the undergraduate population across Canada. A 2009 Engineers Canada survey of female high school students found that most equated engineering with construction work, outdoor work, working in a cubical and relating primarily to computers and machines, rather than people.
These students are not just limiting their post-secondary options by harbouring such negative Impressions, but additionally, the lack of enrolment in science and technology related programs could have an adverse, long-term impact on our society. We need to correct these mistaken beliefs and get young people interested in science and technology programs.
The Angus Reid survey asked teens- what would help them become more successful in science. Eight out of ten students answered that a mentor or assistance with homework would help. Many female engineers credit mentors with helping them discover their passion and with inspiring them to enrol in an engineering program.
Mentors can help students to develop realistic expectations, to gain an understanding of the culture of an institution and to discover what it is really like to work in their chosen field. They can also help students acquire skills and knowledge not readily available in a classroom environment. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a mentor. Therefore, it is very important to support educators in an effort to engage students. 70% of teens say their science teachers have influenced their perception of science. Many organizations, like ‘Let’s Talk Science’, are attempting to expose students to more science programs and keep them interested and engaged.