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Scientists of the future: An analysis of talented students’ interests
Höffler, T., Köhler, C., Parchmann, I.

Scientists of the future: An analysis of talented students’ interests

International Journal of STEM Education, 6, [29]. DOI: 10.1186/s40594-019-0184-1, Open Access

Nowadays’ scientists not only need to be creative, resourceful and inventive regarding their research questions, need to understand their field and research methods, they also need to know how to teach, how to catalogue, how to fill out proposal forms, and much more. The main goal of this study was to investigate and compare science interest profiles of different groups of students, focusing both on successful participants in science competitions and on possible gender differences. We expected that successful participants in science competitions would generally have greater interests in scientific activities than non-participants, but were especially interested in such areas we expect from successful scientists today, thereby helping us judge the design of successful enrichment measures.

Significant mean differences in interest in science activities between participants and non-participants of science competitions were found on six of seven dimensions as well as regarding inschool activities, activities in enrichment measures, and vocational interests. The differences were especially large concerning investigative, social, enterprising, and networking activities. Moreover, we found differences between girls and boys on the social and artistic dimensions, meaning that girls were significantly more interested in science activities which also had an artistic and creative aspect such as drawing, or a social aspect such as teaching.

We found not only overall differences to-be-expected favoring the participants, but could also identify specific profiles. Especially large differences were consistently found in those areas which could be regarded as especially important for most researchers. Our findings might help developing measures and activities to foster the interest in science activities for “regular” students as well as for especially talented students.