Choosing an elective - What impact do scientific profile classes have?


  • Alena Schulte
  • Claas Wegner



Electives, Profile Classes, Secondary School, Scientific Interest, Motives for Choice


Background: With 263,000 vacant jobs in the MINT sector, there is currently a shortage of specialists in Germany. Concurrently, schools report a decrease in scientific interest, particularly noticeable in lower secondary school, as many students choose to take non-science subjects. However, there are a few teaching models that can promote scientific interest and choice: Science profile classes (5th – 7th grade) are one possibility to compensate.


Purpose: We aim to examine the effectiveness of using a teaching model that contains profile classes. This will be assessed by investigating which elective students chose after 7th grade, accompanied by exploring influencing factors.


Sample/Setting: The sample consists of a total of 83 students in 7th grade (13 years old), where students either attended a science profile class or a regular class (n = 55, 29 male/25 female/1 non-binary; n = 28, 15 male/13 female, respectively) at two Gymnasien in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.


Design Methods: At the end of 7th grade, students answered a questionnaire including items on scientific interest, ability self-concept and motives for choosing an elective.


Results: There were no significant effects on elective choice between profile classes and regular classes (χ²(1)=0.508, p = 0.476) nor between genders (χ²(1)=0.163, p = 0.687). However, the factors utility value and ability self-concept have a significant influence on elective choice.


Conclusions/Implications for classroom practice and future research: This study provides the first attempt to identify what motivates secondary school students to choose an elective. Although we have determined a target group of students to promote science, our study concluded that science profile classes have no effect on elective choice. Future studies should further develop the curriculum and teaching method to effectively promote students’ interests.