Science capital is a concept that describes how all the science-related knowledge, attitudes, experiences and social contacts that an individual has might influence their behaviour.
For example, someone who has science qualifications, scientists in their family or spends a lot of time interacting with science-themed activities out of school would be described as having more science capital than someone who doesn’t do or have these things.
Research shows that the more science capital a young person has, the more likely they are to study science post-16 and to see science as ‘for me’.
However, 27% of all 11 to 17 year olds have low science capital, particularly those from disadvantaged schools and communities. Low science capital limits their opportunities and outcomes in life, and contributes to the shortfall in young people in the UK choosing STEM subjects.
To help more young people engage with science, the Science Capital Teaching Approach focuses on recognising and valuing students’ existing science capital, whilst also helping them to build new science capital.
The challenge of how to engage all students in all subjects is a long standing educational concern, however the historical culture of science (white, male and middle-class) can make engagement issues worse. But the evidence shows that individual teachers can make a difference in their own classrooms.
The Science Capital Teaching Approach works within any science curriculum. It is not a new set of materials, it is a framework that involves making small tweaks to existing practice so as to re-orientate science lessons in ways that can better connect with the reality of students’ lives and experiences.
Why not take a look at the resources and let us know what you think?
This research and the resources are a product of the Enterprising Science project, run by Professor Louise Archer at the UCL Institute of Education.