When a high school student decides which subjects to major in for matriculation, their selection is based on a number of factors. Similarly, when difficulties in the learning process arise, and they are debating whether to drop out or persevere, they weigh up a number of considerations. The ability to intervene and influence these important processes of decision-making is dependent on understanding those factors. To this end, the foundation proposes a survey to explore the question: “What factors lead students to study five-unit mathematics and physics, and what causes them to drop these subjects?”The study aims to identify the main junctures in these decision-making processes; to map the main variables which affect their choices and to identify the weight of each of them; and then to pinpoint the modes of intervention which seem to have the highest potential impact on this process.
It is intended that the findings will help the foundation, but more importantly schools and teachers, to better understand the situation at hand and to address it accordingly. For example, if it is discovered that parents have a big influence on their children’s selection, the foundation may want to include components of teacher-parent engagement in its activity with teachers. If the survey identifies a specific moment in which students make up their mind, schools may want to help teachers create content which focuses on this specific moment. The extent to which peers, the image of the subject area, the weight of future career considerations, the army, and other factors affect students’ decisions to select these subjects, or drop out of them, will also be examined.
The study will use qualitative research methods, including in-depth interviews and ten focus groups, which will include students, parents and teachers of different socio-economic backgrounds. Among the participants of the focus groups will be students and their parents who chose to study these subjects and persevered with them, and those that dropped out; parents and students with potential who chose not to study these subjects; and teachers representing the common profile of teachers of these subjects. The study will be conducted by a professional institute that specializes in compiling focus groups, and the findings will be made freely available to the professional community.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 79