An Overview of Goals for Science Education (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Personal Needs

School personnel and parents express their concerns about meeting the personal needs of students through science education. This rhetoric takes the form of life-and-work and school-to-work skills related to science, the preparation ethic, and vocational or career education. In response, science courses often emphasize content that is seen as useful in everyday living.

Attempts to meet personal needs are made primarily through health or advanced placement courses. Some of the other goals, such as career awareness, overlap with these courses. Sometimes personal needs are met as a secondary effect of another goal. A socially relevant course on environmental science may provide fundamental knowledge that stimulates students to examine the life worth living.

The goal of meeting personal needs has always been subordinate in science education programs, especially when compared to goals such as knowledge. In the past three decades, the goal of fulfilling students’ personal needs has become increasingly important. This goal is closely related to both career and societal goals.

Career Awareness

One of the currently important goals of science education is to provide information and training that will be useful in future employment. You might hear this expressed as the need for science education that supports a twenty-first-century workforce. Recent increased emphasis on this goal is due in part to public opinion and concerns by business and industry. The career awareness goal was found consistently across science programs, although it was not the primary goal of science education. What mattered most was the scientific and technological knowledge needed for the next course and whether all the courses were eventually related to one’s future job.

There is some resistance to implementing the career goal in science education. Several issues emerge: Teachers and communities have questioned whether the school should serve labor needs, that is, whether the school should help prepare for work. They have questioned the apparent conflict between work of the school and the world of work. Science teachers are reluctant to sacrifice the scholastic program to help youth prepare for jobs. When teachers, parents, and science coordinators were asked about vocational goals of science courses, they all agreed that these goals should be included—however, the majority selected general education goals over vocational goals.

In recent decades, the inclusion of career goals in science programs has been increasingly important. Although the career goal has been emphasized and is important, it probably will become an increasingly important goal of science education in the twenty-first century.

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