Factors influencing Secondary school stundents' preferred choice of science subjects in South Western Uganda.
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Student enrollment in science and technology is critical for scientific literacy, sustainable socio-economic growth and transformation of any nation. Unfortunately, there are consistently low enrollment and graduation rates in science at all levels in Uganda. Tertiary science and engineering enrollments are less than 10% of total enrollments which is way below the 40% threshold enrollment for science and technology led development. Owing to this, in 2011 a study establishing factors influencing secondary school students‟ preferred choice of science subjects was undertaken in South Western Uganda with objectives; to investigate the relationship between gender and secondary school students‟ preferred choice of science subjects, to study the relationship between type of school and secondary school students‟ preferred of choice of science subjects, to determine the influence of learning experience on secondary school students‟ preferred choice of science subjects and to establish the relationship between parents education and occupation on students‟ preferred choice of science subjects. Two hundred and thirty one students were studied using a quantitative, correctional, cross-sectional survey. It was found out that, gender has a significant relationship with secondary school students‟ preferred choice of science subject. Girls prefer more of biology related combinations as compared to physics related combinations. Boys‟ preference for biology or physics related combinations differ slightly. No relationship existed between type of school and secondary school students‟ preference of science subjects. It was also revealed that most students never get opportunities of planning their own experiments in science and lessons are rarely taught practically. Parents’ education and occupation did not influence students‟ preferred choice of science subjects. It is suggested that, there is need for programs supporting girls to develop more positive interest in physics-related combinations by using methods that appeal to them like cooperative learning. Future research especially employing a qualitative paradigm should explore the actual practices within single-sex and coeducational schools. There is needed to make the curriculum as relevant and as motivating to the students as possible. Staff training programs should be pursued especially by national teachers colleges and universities. These should emphasize on student-centered discussion, issue based teaching, and use of environment in teaching, improvisation, and project based learning, constructivism, laboratory and field activities in the development of scientific ideas. There is need for material development for example, constructing science laboratories. There is need to employ information communication technology to compensate for limited instructional materials, teacher-centered pedagogies and poor delivery methods. This may be difficult in areas with limited access to power but there is need to venture into alternative power sources like solar.