“Hard sciences” and “soft sciences”: a necessary differentiation in teaching sciences to primary pre-service teachers


Miriam Hernández del Barco1*, Florentina Cañada2, Isaac Corbacho-Cuello3, Jesús Sánchez-Martín4

1Ms. Hernández del Barco,University of Extremadura, SPAIN, mhdelbarco@unex.es

2Prof. Dr. Cañada, University of Extremadura, SPAIN, flori@unex.es

3Prof. Dr. Corbacho-Cuello, University of Extremadura, SPAIN, icorbacho@unex.es

4Prof. Dr. Sánchez-Martín, University of Extremadura, SPAIN, jsanmar@unex.es

*Corresponding Author


This research has been made with primary teachers in training in the context of a science subjects. The sample consisted of 144 university students of the Faculty of Education (63% female). The principal aim was to study the possible differences between the emotions (positive and negative) that teachers in training feel toward some specific contents of sciences, differentiating between biology and geology and physics and chemistry.

Today’s society is recognized by rapid changes. It is necessary the scientific continuity and consciousness citizens able to act and to solve the future problems, but instead the decrease of number of sciences and techniques students is frightening. For that, is essential that primary teachers awake some passions toward sciences in pupils. The Bologna Process promotes an education system based on Europa demands in order to educate also in “soft skills” as verbal communication, reflection, creativity or emotional intelligence, evidencing that the role of universities is far from teaching only professional skills but to educate sensible and competent people. Previous researches with teachers in training show that students feel more positive emotions (funny, confident, joy) toward biology and geology than toward physics and chemistry. If they don’t feel positive emotions towards physics and chemistry contents, is quite difficult to provoke it while teaching. Some investigations find significative by gender in the emotions felt by gender.

This is a quantitative research carried out by survey. To check whether the differences by gender were significant, we applied Student’s T test. A questionnaire by own elaboration has been made for emotions data collection. For a confidence level of 95%, the results showed there to be significant differences between women and men, with p<0.05 in physics and chemistry contents. Our results confirm the necessity of differentiate between “hard sciences” and “soft sciences” when we talk about emotions toward sciences.

We find gender differences in the emotions they feel in physics and chemistry contents, but not in biology and geology. Furthermore, we have discriminated between contents of physics and chemistry and we found that to measure mass and volume is the content against students feel more concerned about. The explanation of physical phenomenon the most reject they feel, and energy sources is their preferred content (they manifest to feel joy, confidence and enthusiasm). Finally, chemical reactions: combustion, oxidation and fermentation are the content toward they feel more afraid. Whereas, the highest rates of positive emotions were for biology and geology contents. On the one hand, the favorite content is characterizing and classification of living beings, when they usually manifest feel satisfaction, enthusiasm and fun. On the other hand, geology, minerals and rocs: properties, uses and utilities are the content that make them feel the major negative emotions. Students feel boring, anxiety, afraid, nervous and reject. In biology and geology case no differences by gender are found, is the same positive and negatives emotions for both. However, for physics and chemistry men always feel more positives emotions that women. There are a lot of studies that support the evidence: natural sciences (or “soft sciences”) are preferred by students. Respect to differences by gender, there are discrepancies in scientific literature.

The results show that educators must take into account that “hard science” content should be worked though methodologies that engage students with the principal aim of reversing that negative emotions and ensuring that the future transmission of content referring to physics and chemistry is correctly done without damaging the students emotional dimension.

Keywords:  higher education; emotions; science education; pre-service teachers.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.46529/socioint.2020144

CITATION: Abstracts & Proceedings of SOCIOINT 2020- 7th International Conference on Education and Education of Social Sciences, 15-17 June 2020

ISBN: 978-605-82433-9-2