Chris Blattman

What makes science majors different?

We find that the substantial overoptimism about completing a degree in science can be attributed largely to students beginning school with misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science.

An intermediate step in reaching this conclusion involves examining the process by which students update their beliefs about grade performance in each major. We again find evidence that science deviates from other majors.

By and large, the primary way to learn about one’s ability in science is to take science classes, while, for majors j other than science, students tend to collect much of their information about their ability in j from classes taken outside of the major.

Full paper from  Stinebrickner & Stinebrickner.

3 Responses

  1. I think that there is some truth to this. However, I also think that many science undergraduate degrees really do not prepare students for the realities and process of scientific research. From what I’ve seen, most science students are not required to engage in legitimate scientific research, although a number decide to do so by being a research assistant or doing an honors thesis. What this means is that many science students then are downloading scientific facts but not engaging in the scientific method. This doesn’t really prepare them to be a scientist, although they are well versed perhaps in recent scientific theories. As a former science teacher, I think it’s really important that more schools require research as part of the graduation requirements.

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