12 May 2010

New survey finds parents need help encouraging their kids in science

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Nearly all science teachers wish their students' parents had more opportunities to engage in science with their children, and many parents admit they need help

A new survey announced today finds the vast majority (94%) of science teachers wish their students' parents had more opportunities to engage in science with their children. However, more than half (53%) of parents of school-aged children admit that they could use more help to support their child's interest in science. The survey was conducted by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., among a sample of 500 science teachers and 506 parents, including 406 parents of school-aged children.

While science teachers agree (98%) that parental involvement is important for children's interest in science, the survey shows it to be among the subjects parents are least comfortable discussing with their kids. In fact, barely half (51%) of parents say they are "very familiar" with what their children are learning in science and only 15% cited it as the subject they feel "most comfortable" discussing with them, compared to 33% for language arts and 28% for math. Approximately seven in 10 parents say they are "very familiar" with what their children are learning in language arts (71%) and math (69%).

"Science education has been identified as a national priority, but science teachers can't do the job on their own. They need the help and support from key stakeholders, especially parents," said Francis Eberle, NSTA executive director. "We know that family involvement is important, and parents need help getting involved with their kids in a subject they may not feel comfortable with themselves. We must continue to find ways to break down the walls of the classroom and encourage learning together among families."

The future of science education is a growing concern nationwide, with leaders making a concerted effort to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science achievement over the next decade. The gap is significant: Only 18% of American high school seniors perform at or above the proficient level in science, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress figures. International test scores show that US students lag significantly behind their peers in science.

(EurekAlert!)

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