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Science Students: Would I Like to Be a STEM Teacher?

Rita Birzina, Dagnija Cedere, Inese Dudareva, Jazeps Logins
University of Latvia, Latvia

Abstract. Teaching is an increasingly important profession that contributes to the sustainable social and economic development of societies by providing quality education and promoting the development of pupils, while teacher shortages are the most widespread problem in Europe and worldwide. The role of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teacher is to facilitate the application of science, mathematics, technical and engineering knowledge to solve everyday or societal problems, making the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics more meaningful. Fewer and fewer students choose to become teachers. This situation is particularly problematic in science education, so the aim of the study was to find out the views of students in science faculties on the choice of science teaching as a career. In order to achieve this goal, the research question was put forward: what factors determine the choice of science students to become/not to become a science teacher?
Using the QuestionPro e-platform, 285 students of Bachelor and Master degree programmes at the Faculties of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Mathematics and Optometry of the University of Latvia were surveyed in 2022.
The results showed that there was no difference in the opinions of students from different science faculties. The main factors that would determine the choice of a teaching profession were the teacher’s working environment, the student’s personal views and professional qualifications. The most common socio-economic perceptions mentioned were the low prestige of the teaching profession, the workload of teachers with no fixed hours and inadequate salaries. Students appreciated the role of the teacher in developing young people’s interest in studying science. Thus students, few of whom have worked as a teacher alongside their studies, have a fairly good idea about the work of the science teacher.

Keywords: personal factors, professional factors, science students, STEM, teacher profession, working environment.

The authors would like to thank the Deans of the Faculties of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, Mathematics and Optometry of the University of Latvia for their initiative and support in carrying out this research.

Rita Birzina has a doctor in Education with many years of experience in biology education, as evidenced by her work experience as a school biology teacher and at university teaching biology and environmental education methodology to future biology teachers. Her research interests include biology and science didactics as well as adult education and e-learning culture.

Dagnija Cedere has a doctor in Chemistry with many years of experience in teaching chemistry to students of various natural sciences specialties. At the same time, D. Cedere has specialized in didactics of natural sciences; currently she is conducting research mainly in didactics of universities in the field of STEM. D. Cedere’s research interests mainly focus on improving the quality of STEM education.

Inese Dudareva has a doctor in Physics with 20 years of experience in school and 15 years of experience in teaching preservice physics teachers the methodology of teaching physics and astronomy and the meaningful use of IT in the teaching/learning process. Her research interests include physics didactics and professional development of STEM teachers.

Jazeps Logins has a doctor in Chemistry with 20 years of experience teaching chemistry and science in school, and 20 years of experience teaching chemistry and science education methodology to preservice chemistry teachers. His research interests are in STEM, particularly chemistry and science teacher education and their professional development.

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2023. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2023. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 796 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-116-6