Page: 269-282 Author: Žák, V. Key words: physics lessons, reasons for learning physics, questionnaire survey
Physics is one of the most important fields for modern civilization, but it seems not be a very interesting one or young people in Europe. A range of national and international research deals with the question of what is behind the relatively low popularity of physics and more generally of science and engineering.
In the Czech Republic too, we face a rela-tively low level of interest in physica among pupils and students. In this research study, we deal with the groundwork, outcomes, and interpretations of a questionnaire survey conducted in 2007 in the Czech Republic. One of the aims of the survey was to analyse why pupils and students learn physics. A sample of more than 4000 elementary school pupils and upper secondary school students participated in the survey.
The survey concludes that some of the reasons are significantly more important than the others and the relative weight of the reasons changes with age - it is somehow different for elementary school pupils and for upper secondary school students.
Generally speaking, the strongest reason for learning physics is the desire to have good marks. Considering only upper secondary school students, the additional strong reason is the supposition that they will need physics in their future job. By contrast, the weakest reason for both pupils and students is „I like physics“. Upper secondary school students also consider as weak reasons „my parents think that physics is important“ and „I want to know how things around me work“. We also found that these reasons for learning physics were evaluated more positively (as stronger) by elementary school pupils than by students of upper secondary schools.