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Secondary school pupils’ perceptions of physics.

Barmby, P. and Defty, N. (2006) 'Secondary school pupils’ perceptions of physics.', Research in science & technological education., 24 (2). pp. 199-215.


This paper describes the analysis of data collected by Durham University’s YELLIS project, over the period of 1999 to 2004. Included in this data was the degree to which pupils in England at the end of their secondary education ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ different subjects, and their expected examination grades in these subjects. The authors’ study focused on the perceptions of pupils in the science subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. Using the available data, they were able to analyse the perceptions of a large number of pupils (e.g. 9827 pupils in 2004) who took examinations in the separate sciences. The study found that physics was perceived as the least popular science, particularly by female pupils. We also found that the expected grade in a particular science subject correlated quite strongly (Spearman’s rho of around 0.5) with the liking of that subject. These expected grades were found to be the lowest in physics, again particularly for female pupils. The authors therefore concluded that in order to redress the gender imbalance in physics, they need to tackle this problem that physics is perceived as difficult by female pupils.

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Record Created:04 Feb 2009
Last Modified:06 Jul 2016 10:11

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