Spreading interest in particle physics among high-school students – What matters?
November 17, 2020
Spreading interest in physics is crucial for the course and career choices of high-school students. When investigating interest in physics, previous studies focused on four aspects: interesting contents, contexts, tasks, and learning environments. Overall, physics education researchers agree that when trying to catch students’ interest, context matters the most. However, previous studies did not include modern physics content areas such as particle physics. Moreover, they interpreted individual difference based on gender instead of students’ self-concept. Thus, we examined what matters when spreading interest in particle physics among 9th grade students. We adapted existing questionnaires assessing interest and self-concept to investigate a) which aspects of particle physics students are interested in and b) whether they differ in their interest profiles. We surveyed 99 German-speaking students in 9th grade using an online questionnaire. The analysis revealed that particle physics is perceived as the most interesting when presented in a context, e.g., in relation to humans and nature. This is in line with previous findings about interest in classical physics. However, contrary to classical physics, analysis suggests that particle physics is equally interesting for all students.
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