Parents' attitudes towards science and their children's science achievement
Although countries and school systems worldwide are emphasizing the importance of science education for technological development and global economic competition, comparative findings from standardized international student assessments point towards a huge gap in science scores between developed and developing countries. Certain developed economies too have made little progress in raising science achievement over the past decade. Despite school improvement being placed high on the policy agenda, the results of such actions have been poor. Therefore, there is a need to explore additional ways in which science achievement can be enhanced. This study focuses on the family and examines to what extent parents' attitudes towards science (how much they value science and the importance they place on it) can influence their children's science achievement. Individual- and school-level data are obtained from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006 survey for 15 OECD and non-OECD countries. Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) is employed to estimate the equations. The findings indicate that parents' attitudes towards science have a positive and statistically significant effect on science achievement, after controlling for other important student- and school-level variables. Moreover, students from poor backgrounds appear to benefit from more positive parental science attitudes as much as students from high socioeconomic status, such that equality of student achievement is not affected. This study recommends that schools and teachers encourage parents to play a more pro-active role in their children's science education, as well as educate parents about the importance of science and strategies that can be adopted to support their children's science learning.
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