This a piece of analytical research extending the descriptive approach to suggest why students decide to study Science subjects (specifically A Level Biology, Chemistry & Physics) at Post 16. The main data collection used quantitative methods utilising an online descriptive survey to gather the data. The survey was emailed to students who study science at the FE College I work at and the social network site twitter (www.twitter .com) and hashtags #ASEchat (http://www.ase.org.uk/news/ase-chat/) and #SciTeachJC (http://science.teachingjournalclub.org/) to recruit other teachers to send the survey to a greater number of students. A qualitative approach of using a small focus group will be used to generate the questions for the survey and a paper based version will be trialled with some students to check for and issues with the questions concerning readability and reliability. This beginning of a mixed method pragmatic approach is a much better way to gain a fuller understanding of the research question and allows the best research methods to be employed for the particular question I am trying to answer rather than picking one approach polarizing the two paradigms (Cohen et al).
I am using a positivistic approach as I am trying to identify and measure what the major influencing factors are for student subject choice (University of Bradford, Introduction to Research and Research Methods http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/management/external/els/pdf/introductiontoresearch.pdf) and rank there relative importance. When it comes to providing a rational explanation for a student’s choice a phenomenological approach would be required, as an in-depth interview would need to be employed to truly understand an individual’s behaviour. Due to the time constraints of this study, in-depth interviews were not used, moreover any one student’s individual reasons may not be applicable to any other student so a large set of interviews would be required to identify any trends. This is an area which this research could be developed further; if students’ email addresses were asked for in the survey then any interesting responses could be followed up with an in-depth interview. This might enable the different ‘types’ of student to be identified however any grouping of students into types will always be subject to individual interpretation.