An analysis of the role of peers in supporting female students' choices in science subjects

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This exploratory study investigated the role and importance of peers in providing personal and academic support for Year 11 female students, enrolled in physics and biology. While these areas of support had been identified in earlier research by Holland and Eisenhart (1981), this study attempted to investigate further their importance within an Australian context. Questionnaires, completed by one hundred female students, were analysed using Principal Components Analysis and MANOVA. The statistical analysis found no significant differences between the six relevant factors and science subjects, however, significant differences emerged in relation to schools and particular factors. Subsequently, six interviews were conducted with selected students to elaborate upon the statistical differences that emerged from these results. The interviews corroborated the findings of the quantitative analysis and provided explanations for these differences. Overall, the results of this study suggest that while the supportive role provided by peers is similar regardless of the science subject undertaken by a female student, this role varies between schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes

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