The Significance of Outside-school Factors in Science Education:The Role of Families on the Attitudes that Turkish Children in London have to Science

UCL Institute of Education, University College London

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Abstract

The literature in science education highlights the potentially significant role of outside-school factors such as parents, cultural contexts and role models in influencing students’ science participation. Because a substantial portion of students’ science attitudes and inspirations develop within the context of their families, their cultural background and their daily lives, it is important to understand how outside-school factors affect students’ formation and expansion of science capabilities. In addition, students from minority ethnic groups face unique challenges in their science participation where outside-school factors have been suggested to play a major role. Finally, there is growing concern and corresponding research interest in the UK on ethnic minority students’ science participation, but most studies have focused on ‘major’ minority ethnic groups (e.g., Black African/Caribbean, Pakistani students) and paid limited attention to other groups.

This study investigates the role of outside-school factors in students’ formation and expansion of science capabilities in the context of Turkish minority students and their parents living in London. The study uses data from one independent Turkish school and one maintained school with a large Turkish student population in London including semi-structured student (n=16), parent (n=11) and teacher and staff (n=7) interviews, student questionnaires both from the two schools in London (n=93) and five additional schools in Istanbul, Turkey (n=383) to provide an analysis of how outside-school factors influence students’ science capability development.

Building on and linking Bourdieu’s key concepts of habitus, cultural and social capital and field with Sen’s capability approach, the study develops a two-stage model of students’ science-related capability development. The findings suggest that the role of outside-school factors is twofold, first, in providing an initial set of science-related resources and then in conversion of these resources to science-related capabilities and functionings. Qualitative and quantitative analyses indicate that science-related capability development is a complex process driven by both structure and agency. Overall, the study advances our understanding of the mechanisms involved in formation and expansion of ethnic minority students’ science-related capabilities by introducing a new theoretical framework and by providing empirically based insights.   

Thesis full reference:

Gokpinar, T (2018). The Significance of Outside-school Factors in Science Education: The Role of Families on the Attitudes that Turkish Children in London have to Science (Doctoral dissertation, UCL Institute of Education, University College London).

Related main publication:

Gokpinar, T., & Reiss, M. (2016). The role of outside-school factors in science education: a two-stage theoretical model linking Bourdieu and Sen, with a case study. International Journal of Science Education38(8), 1278-1303.

Correspondence:

Tuba Gokpinar

Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment

UCL Institute of Education, University College London

20 Bedford Way

London

WC1H 0AL

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