Who takes science?: A report on student coursework in high by Roman Czujko

By Roman Czujko

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Only two thirds of the Hispanic students and proportionally fewer Black students who scored well in reading, scored above the mean in mathematics. As Figure 2 1 illustrates, Asians are scoring lower in reading than White students, but both groups display remarkably better skills than their Hispanic and Black classmates. Although they are lagging slightly in reading and vocabu­ lary, Asians are not displaying any significant problems in this area. Their mean score is just one point below the overall mean.

If these individuals do not possess even the basic educa­ tional skills, science educators in universities and colleges will be hard pressed to find enough students to keep their programs alive. The physical sciences traditionally have had difficulty in attracting Black and Hispanic students. As Figure 20 illustrates, over the last decade only about 2% of all PhDs awarded in the physical sciences were earned by Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians (National Academy of Sciences). Even at the bachelors degree level the percentage is not much higher (less than 6% ).

Selected characteristics of seniors with high aptitude who d id not take physics or chem istry, 1 980. Students of h ig h aptitude are d efined as scoring over the mean on standardized tests in mathematics, vocabu lary and reading. YEARS OF MATHEMATICS YEARS OF SCIENCE High Aptitude (no p_c)a All with High Aptitude National Average 34 38 28 58 29 13 38 33 29 % More than Two Two O n e or less % High Aptitude (no p-c) % All with H igh Aptitude % 8 More than Two Two One or less % 44 25 67 30 26 N ational Average % 25 31 44 ·0 MATH E MATICS IS INTERESTING MATHEMATICS IS USEFUL H ig h Aptitude (no p-c) All with High Aptitude National Average 42 58 51 49 42 58 % Yes No % % Yes No N ational Average 60 40 71 29 62 38 % % HOURS PER WEEK SPENT ON HOMEWORK High Aptitude (no p-c) All with High Aptitude National Average 42 36 22 68 22 10 38 37 25 College prep General Vocational All with High Aptitude % CU RRICU LUM % High Aptitude (no p-c) % % High Aptitude (no p-c) All with High Aptitude National Average 24 54 22 39 47 14 24 52 24 % % More than 5 1 to 5 Less than 1 % EDUCATIONAL EXPECTATIONS High Aptitude (no p-c) All with High Aptitude National Average 52 48 75 25 46 54 % Bachelors or more Some college or less % % (a) no p-c refers to senio rs who have not taken either physics or chem istry Sou rce: High School & Beyond Study are more like those of average students than of students with strong skills.

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