Students' Awareness of Working Life Skills in the UK, Finland and Germany
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CitationSalonen, Anssi. Hartikainen-Ahia, Anu. Keinonen, Tuula. Direito, Ines. Connolly, John. Scheersoi, Annette. Weiser, Lara. (2019). Students' Awareness of Working Life Skills in the UK, Finland and Germany. Bridging Research and Practice in Science Education, 6, 123-138. 10.1007/978-3-030-17219-0_8.
High achievers with low self-efficacy in science lack interest in choosing science studies and careers. Wide-ranging knowledge of specific working life skills in science-related careers can help students identify their own strengths in science. This improves their self-efficacy beliefs in science and further promotes interest in pursuing science studies and careers. The purpose of this paper is to examine lower secondary school students’ knowledge of specific working life skills. The participants in this study were 215 British, 144 Finnish and 154 German students, aged 12–14 years. Using open-ended questions and content analysis, we examined students’ perceptions of working life skills needed in science-related careers. The results reveal that the students have a great deal of knowledge about working life skills, but it is often stereotypical. Students frequently mentioned sector-specific knowledge and personal attributes, but skills related to career development, organization, time and society skills were often omitted. Some variation exists between the countries. The British students linked careers in science with a great deal of thinking skills, whereas the Finnish students emphasized sector-specific knowledge. The German students described the careers more with personal attributes than in the other two countries. We conclude that the students need learning experiences including presentation of working life skills such as interacting with professionals and their real work-life problems, open-ended inquiries and balanced team working. These experiences increase students’ awareness and perceived relevance of careers and working life skills, help identifying and promoting own strengths and self-efficacy and encourage choosing science-related careers.