A study of the contribution that phyical science makes in preparing students for higher education and the workplace.
This work is a case study of the opinions of four young people who studied physical science while at a technical high school and then went on either to study in a scientific field at a tertiary institution or went to work in a technical field. The purpose was to try and find out what contribution studying physical science at high school makes to learners who choose a career path in a technical workplace or in a scientific/technical field in tertiary education. The questions asked were firstly ''What is the value of having studied physical science at high school to students entering the workplace and entering higher education?" and then "What skills and knowledge are required for employment in a technical workplace and for tertiary education?" and "What are the views of students, employers and lecturers on the preparation given to physical science students for the world of work and for tertiary studies?" Questions were asked of the young people, their lecturers, and their employers. The idea was to find out whether subject-specific knowledge was important or whether there were certain skills which were considered more valuable. Skills were broadly defined as competencies that would enable a person to cope with the requirements of a new and different learning and work environment after leaving school. Four young people with similar high school backgrounds were interviewed and their opinions noted. Structured interviews were conducted and compared for similarities and differences. The employers and lecturers were given a questionnaire to complete. They were asked what they expected of new employees and new students, and how their ideals matched the actual applicants whom they accepted. These answers were compared to those given by the young people. It was found that although the subject content knowledge that learners received at high school was important, there was a general and definite lack of preparation in terms of critical thinking skills and preparation for coping with unfamiliar problems. It seemed that the current examination-driven school system is not the best preparation for either tertiary education or technical employment, although much did depend on the particular teaching methods experienced by each student. This study opens up a possibility of more detailed research into why so few learners who pass senior certificate physical science are adequately prepared for the fields which are under consideration in this enquiry.