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New Perspectives in Science Education 12th Edition 2023

“Yes, Biology is for me!”: Raising the Science Capital of Boys

Veronica McCauley; Carmen Kealy; Ethan Hill O’Driscoll; Paul Flynn


Some male students struggle to see the study of Biology as being relevant to the lives that they lead. If students don’t opt to take Biology at upper post-primary school, then they are excluded from a wide range of pathways to higher education and the possibility of developing a scientific-enhanced transversal skill set that will benefit them in life more generally. This research considers the perceived barriers that males (aged 15-16 years) from marginalised communities in Ireland face, when deciding that Biology is ‘not for them’. Further, it proposes a pedagogical disruption through the introduction of a co-designed (students, teachers, teacher educators, sociologists) module that celebrates the essence of the Science Capital Teaching Approach (SCTA) (Godec, King & Archer 2017), in an attempt to enthuse adolescent males’ engagement with Biology. The SCTA draws on Bordieu’s work (1990) about capital and social reproduction and is a way of teaching that convinces students of the value of science, in this instance biology, in their daily lives. The approach does this by a) personalising and localising the content, b) eliciting young people’s ideas, valuing their contribution, and linking it to the topic, and c) building the science capital dimension (for example that Biology leads to lots of jobs, not just jobs that are traditionally associated with it). This paper opens the conversation around student intent to choose Biology and subsequent pedagogical pillars to support the proposed intervention, derived from national survey results from participant boys in Irish post-primary schools who are yet to be convinced that ‘Yes, Biology is for me!’

Keywords: Marginalized adolescent males; Science Capital Teaching Approach; Post-primary science education




Godec, S., King, H. & Archer, L. (2017) The Science Capital Teaching Approach: engaging students with science, promoting social justice. London: University College London.

Bourdieu, Pierre; Passeron, Jean-Claude (1990). Reproduction in education, society and culture. London: Sage.



Publication date: 2023/03/17
ISBN: 979-12-80225-55-9
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