ASPIRES: Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10-14


ASPIRES aims to investigate factors influencing educational choices among 10 to 14-year-old children, with particular interest in the influence of peers, parents, gender, social class and ethnicity on choices.

The Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10-14 project is a five-year longitudinal study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK as part of their Targeted Initiative on Science and Mathematics Education (TISME).

The ASPIRES project aims to address the following four questions:

1. How are students’ educational and occupational aspirations formed over time?
2. How are these aspirations influenced by their peers and parents and by their experience of school science?
3. How are these aspirations shaped by their gender, class and ethnic identities?
4. How and why are student educational and occupational aspirations affected by an intervention which specifically addresses career aspirations in science, mathematics and engineering?

Basic information

Country: United Kingdom

Coordinator: Prof. Louise Archer, King's College London


Programme: Other

Project Acronym:

Target groups: education authorities, parents, policy makers, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Computer science, Chemistry, Information technology, Maths, Physics, Technology, Education

Start year: 2009

End year: 2013


Contact person: Beatrice Willis,

The Aspires research is both qualitative and quantitative, involving a mixture of questionnaire surveys, focus groups and face to face interviews. The first online questionnaire was distributed throughout October and November 2009 to approximately 11,000 Year 6 schoolchildren (aged 10-11 years). Students who completed the first survey were invited to complete two further surveys: one after they had moved up to Year 8 in autumn 2011 and a final survey at the end of Year 9 (summer 2013). At the same time, the project also:

  • Conducted repeated interviews with a sub-sample of students to track their views, aspirations and engagement with science over the five years.
  • Interviewed the parents of these pupils twice (once when their child was in primary school and again towards the end of the project when the child was 14 years old).
  • Developed an intervention (in collaboration with teachers and other stakeholders) for teaching about science-based careers in Key Stage 3.

One element of ASPIRES involves developing strategies for integrating information about careers, in and from science, into lessons or other school science activities.

The main outcomes of this work is a series of ‘case studies’ each of which focuses on an individual teacher’s efforts in this area. These case studies contain everything teachers need to try these activities in the classroom. All case studies and all its accompanying documents (lesson plans, powerpoint presentations, worksheets etc) are available on the website of the Association for Science Education (ASE) in the UK.


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