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Factors affecting students’ career choice of science and engineering Wang, Zhen


This study attempts to examine the potential differences that exist between male and female students, and between science career choosers and non-science career choosers in terms of factors that were thought to influence their academic and career decision making. Four types of factors are considered: 1) Mathematics and science background; 2) Attitudes toward school science activity; 3) Perceptions of various influences on career choice; 4) Perceptions of their own personality. A survey was carried out in British Columbia between February and June, 1994. The subjects were 316 Grade 12 students randomly drawn from 16 districts (20 schools), and they are considered to be representative of the British Columbia school population. Data for the study were collected by using a previously developed questionnaire (Woolnough, 1991) which was modified by the researcher. The questionnaire was administed in each school by the school counselor. The data were then analyzed by using SPSS Mainframe. The major findings of the study were: 1) Fewer female students selected physical-science related careers in comparison with male students; 2) Science career choosers selected more mathematics and science courses than students selecting a non-science career; the mathematics and science GPA of non-science career choosers was significantly lower than that of science career choosers; 3) Science career choosers thought that "family", "school success", "out-of-school science", and "personality" were more encouraging for them to enter science and engineering careers than did non-science choosers; 4)Male students thought that "family", "school success", and "personality" were more encouraging for them to enter science and engineering careers than did female students. The findings suggest that the important factors that affect students' choice of a career in science and engineering can be: family; school success; school science; out-of-school science; and personality. Suggestions are made for further practice and research to address the issues and concerns raised by the study.

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