Evaluation of Changes in Ghanaian Students’ Attitudes Towards Science Following Neuroscience Outreach Activities: A Means to Identify Effective Ways to Inspire Interest in Science Careers

Yawson, Nat, Amankwaa, Aaron, Tali, Bernice, Shang, Velma, Batu, Emmanuella, Asiemoah Jnr, Kwame, Fuseini, Ahmed, Tene, Louis, Angaandi, Leticia, Blewusi, Isaac, Borbi, Makafui, Aduku, Linda, Badu, Pheonah, Abbey, Henrietta and Karikari, Thomas (2016) Evaluation of Changes in Ghanaian Students’ Attitudes Towards Science Following Neuroscience Outreach Activities: A Means to Identify Effective Ways to Inspire Interest in Science Careers. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 14 (2). A117-A123. ISSN 1544-2896

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Abstract

The scientific capacity in many African countries is low. Ghana, for example, is estimated to have approximately twenty-three researchers per a million inhabitants. In order to improve interest in science among future professionals, appropriate techniques should be developed and employed to identify barriers and correlates of science education among pre-university students. Young students’ attitudes towards science may affect their future career choices. However, these attitudes may change with new experiences. It is, therefore, important to evaluate potential changes in students’ attitudes towards science after their exposure to experiences such as science outreach activities. Through this, more effective means of inspiring and mentoring young students to choose science subjects can be developed. This approach would be particularly beneficial in countries such as Ghana, where: (i) documented impacts of outreach activities are lacking; and (ii) effective means to develop scientist-school educational partnerships are needed. We have established an outreach scheme, aimed at helping to improve interaction between scientists and pre-university students (and their teachers). Outreach activities are designed and implemented by undergraduate students and graduate teaching assistants, with support from faculty members and technical staff. Through this, we aim to build a team of trainee scientists and graduates who will become ambassadors of science in their future professional endeavors. Here, we describe an approach for assessing changes in junior high school students’ attitudes towards science following classroom neuroscience outreach activities. We show that while students tended to agree more with questions concerning their perceptions about science learning after the delivery of outreach activities, significant improvements were obtained for only two questions, namely “I enjoy science lessons” and “I want to be a scientist in the future.” Furthermore, there was a generally strong trend towards a change in attitude for questions that sought information about students’ perceptions about scientists (both positive and negative perceptions). In addition, outreach providers reported that their involvement in this public engagement scheme helped them acquire several transferable skills that will be beneficial in their studies and career development. These include vital skills in project and time management, teamwork and public speaking. Altogether, our findings provide novel indications that the development of scientist-school outreach partnerships in Ghana has valuable implications for science education and capacity development.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Africa, Ghana, Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), public engagement, outreach, attitude, scientist, high school, scientific capacity
Subjects: C900 Others in Biological Sciences
X200 Research and Study Skills in Education
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2020 08:54
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 09:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42372

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