This study employed the international Relevance of Science Education questionnaire to survey the interest in biology and the out-of-school experiences of Abu Dhabi secondary school students (median age 17, mean age 17.53 and mode age of 16) in the third semester of 2014. It included 3100 participants. An exploratory factor analysis was used to categorise the items for both interest in biology and out-of-school experience. Ten interest in biology and 12 out-of-school experience factors were extracted. The summated means for each factor indicated that ‘health and fitness’ and ‘disease control’ enjoyed highest interests among students. For out-of-school experiences, the two factors of ‘digital applications’ and ‘medical treatment’ received the highest scores. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed that all factors for both interest in biology and out-of-school experience exhibited significant differences between boys and girls. More girls than boys were interested in disease control, reproduction (human biology), alternative science, health and fitness, zoology, and applied cosmetic biology. No significant differences were observed for the remaining five other categories. Furthermore, analysis of variance revealed significant differences between boys and girls with regard to individual items comprising each of the factors. The highest correlations were between the two factors of out-of-school experiences of ‘the natural world’ and ‘learning through observation’ and the interest in biology factor related to ‘plant and animal farming and agriculture’. Results suggested that more emphasis must be placed on students’ out-of-school experience and their engagement in informal learning in contextual outdoor environments to enhance their interest in learning more about biology and the living environment in general.
- Abu Dhabi
- gender differences
- out-of-school experience
- science education
- students’ interest in biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)