Louise Archer

Louise Archer
King's College London | KCL · Department of Education and Professional Studies

About

120
Publications
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Publications

Publications (120)
Article
Full-text available
While there are many different frameworks seeking to identify what benefits young people might derive from participation in informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning (ISL), this paper argues that the sector would benefit from an approach that foregrounds equity and social justice outcomes. We propose a new model for...
Article
Full-text available
Supporting more equitable participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) remains a key, persistent educational challenge. This paper employs a sociological Bourdieusian lens to explore how equitable youth outcomes might be supported through informal science learning (ISL). Drawing on multimodal, ethnographic data from fou...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the promise of Informal Science Learning settings (ISLs) in supporting youth science engagement in ways that value their experiences and communities, in practice, such opportunities are limited. While some ISLs promote more culturally relevant approaches to science engagement, many still reflect White supremacist and patriarchal worldviews...
Article
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It is commonly assumed that the reason many young people do not participate in informal STEM education (ISE) is because they lack interest in STEM. This paper draws on survey (n = 1,624) and qualitative data (n = 36) with young people aged 11–14 to examine the ways in which science dispositions, demographic characteristics, ‘consumption’ of cultura...
Article
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Background Identity provides a useful conceptual lens for understanding educational inequalities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In this paper, we examine how paying attention to physical and digital ‘materiality’ enriches our understanding of identity work, by going beyond the spoken, written and embodied dimensions of...
Article
Reflecting through the prisms of past, present (“the shape of things that are and were”) and future (“the shape of things to come”), this paper discusses three challenges for sociology of education: the rise of populism and declining faith in ‘experts’; inequities within and re/produced by the sociology of education; and how to enact a sociology of...
Article
The impact of self-fulfilling prophecy in education, and of attainment grouping on pupil self-perception, remain topics of longstanding debate, with important consequences for social in/justice. Focusing on self-confidence, this article draws on survey responses from 9,059 12-13 year olds who were tracked by subject (‘setting’). They provided surve...
Chapter
This chapter draws on longitudinal interview data collected from seven young woman in England who were tracked from age 10–19 and who had all expressed an aspiration at age 16 to study Advanced level (A level) physics. Applying a feminist Bourdieusian conceptual lens, we explore their trajectories in, through and out of physics: from Danielle, who...
Chapter
This chapter presents a longitudinal case study analysis of Victor, a young man who was interviewed from the ages of 10–19, together with his mother, Sam, and who went on to study for a degree in astrophysics. We apply a Bourdieusian conceptual lens to the data, to explore how interactions of capital, habitus and field combine to possibilise Victor...
Article
We previously proposed that science capital (science‐related forms of cultural and social capital) can be used as a theoretical lens for explaining the patterned nature of aspirations and educational participation among young people aged 11–16. Building on these findings, the present article investigates whether science capital is related to post‐1...
Article
Background There is widespread agreement that participation in post-compulsory physics needs to be widened and increased, particularly among women and under-represented communities. This paper contributes to understanding of the processes that produce unequal participation, Methods: The paper undertakes a Bourdieusian analysis of longitudinal inter...
Article
Background Women (along with minority ethnic and low‐income communities) remain underrepresented in engineering, despite a 30‐year history of research and equality legislation. Compared with the United States and other European Union countries, this underrepresentation is particularly pronounced in the United Kingdom. While existing literature give...
Article
Increasing and diversifying participation in science remains a key educational policy concern for governments across the world. Science capital has been proposed as a useful theoretical lens that can explain patterns in science aspirations among young people aged 11-16 – but to date it has not been explored in relation to educational outcomes among...
Article
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This paper draws on Judith Butler’s concepts of intelligibility and identity as performance to make sense of enactments of ‘subaltern’ (that is, subordinated) urban students within secondary school science. Understanding classrooms as constituted by complex power struggles for voice, authenticity and recognition, the paper offers an in-depth explor...
Article
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Drawing upon data gathered from 9301 Year 7 students (12–13 years old) from 46 secondary schools in England, this study represents the first larger‐scale attempt to compare their actual set allocations in maths with the counterfactual position where their allocation to sets is based solely on their prior attainment at the end of primary school [usi...
Article
The number of students in England registered as speaking the languages of Eastern, and Central Europe has grown significantly in the past decade, but these migrants’ educational experiences remain under-researched. This study, based on interviews with students, parents and teachers in four secondary schools in London and in the East of England, fou...
Article
Science education has a seemingly intractable gender problem and remains largely the reserve of White, middle-class men and boys, especially in the physical sciences. In this paper, taking an intersectional approach to Butler’s idea of identity as performance, we explore the affordances and limitations of a specific science learning space (a scienc...
Article
Prior research suggests that where pupils are 'tracked', better qualified, more experienced teachers tend to be deployed to higher attainment groups, at the expense of pupils in lower tracks. This is especially pertinent from a social justice perspective, given consistent findings in the UK that pupils from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds are ov...
Article
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While many people enjoy popular culture, these transactional experiences may not translate into formal or academic learning about a subject. In education and science communication settings popular culture is often presented as a source of inaccurate information about science. Different publics are often positioned as, at best, undiscriminating cons...
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Student engagement with science is a long-standing, central interest within science education research. In this article, we examine student engagement with science using a Bourdiusian lens, placing a particular emphasis on the notion of field. Over the course of one academic year, we collected data in an inner London secondary science classroom thr...
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Participation in post-compulsory physics is a matter of longstanding concern from both economic and equity perspectives. In considering this issue, this study draws upon Bourdieu’s theory of social practice, particularly notions of the ‘cultural arbitrary’, to explore what insights into post-compulsory physics choice might be provided by students w...
Chapter
This chapter suggests that an intersectional approach can enhance social class analyses. Using the context of school science, it uses an intersectional lens to understand the workings of inequality across and through gender, ethnicity and social class. The chapter first explores how the dominant discursive regime of science makes it difficult for w...
Article
There is a substantial international literature around the impact of different types of grouping by attainment on the academic and personal outcomes of students. This literature, however, is sparse in student voices, especially in relation to mixed-attainment practices. Research has indicated that students of different attainment levels might have...
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‘Ability’ or attainment grouping can introduce an additional label that influences teachers’ expectations of students in specific attainment groups. This paper is based on a survey of 597 teachers across 82 schools and 34 teacher interviews in 10 schools undertaken as part of a large-scale mixed-methods study in England. The paper focuses on Englis...
Article
Research has consistently shown ‘ability’ grouping (tracking) to be prey to poor practice, and to perpetuate inequity. A feature of these problems is inequitable and inaccurate practice in allocation to groups or ‘tracks’. Yet little research has examined whether such practices might be improved. Here, we examine survey and interview findings from...
Article
Setting’ is a widespread practice in the UK, despite little evidence of its efficacy and substantial evidence of its detrimental impact on those allocated to the lowest sets. Taking a Bourdieusian approach, we propose that setting can be understood as a practice through which the social and cultural reproduction of dominant power relations is enact...
Article
There are well-documented challenges with all forms of attainment grouping. Nevertheless, development of support for good practice in student grouping, and effective pedagogy therein, is under-developed. As such, this research-based aide-memoire is intended to improve existing practices in attainment grouping, and mixed attainment grouping, with re...
Article
Within-school segregation of pupils by attainment remains prevalent, despite evidence that these practices detrimentally impact outcomes for those in low attainment groups. This article explores the hypothesis that ‘ability grouping’ by setting impacts pupil self-confidence, precipitating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Survey data from 11,546 11/12 ye...
Article
Informal science learning (ISL) experiences have been found to provide valuable opportunities to engage with and learn about science and, as such, form a key part of the STEM learning ecosystem. However, concerns remain around issues of equity and access. The Enterprising Science study builds upon previous research in this area and uses the constru...
Article
In this paper, we take the view that school classrooms are spaces that are constituted by complex power struggles (for voice, authenticity, and recognition), involving multiple layers of resistance and contestation between the “institution,” teachers and students, which can have profound implications for students’ science identity and participation...
Article
The high achievement of British Chinese students in the British education system is established in the official literature and has recently been subject to increased attention and comment; albeit it remains the case that few studies have asked students or their families about the factors contributing to their success. This paper revisits findings f...
Article
This article discusses an attempt at a Bourdieusian-inspired form of praxis, developed and implemented in collaboration with nine London teachers, aimed at developing a socially just approach to engaging students with science. Data are discussed from nine months of classroom observations of nine secondary science classes from six inner London schoo...
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The present article investigates explanations for gendered trends in Physics and Engineering access, reporting findings from a large-scale study funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and drawing primarily on data from interviews with 132 15–16 year-old adolescents and their parents. Survey results in our study and elsewhere show str...
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Currently, in England, there is widespread concern that careers education (information, advice and guidance) is relatively poorly resourced in schools and there is much debate about its current effectiveness. In this paper, we investigate students’ views on careers education provision and their satisfaction with this provision. The work draws on da...
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Hyper-femininity and the construction of the ‘girly girl’ label have been documented widely, but there has been less attention to their content (or any distinctions between these constructs). Indeed, it can be argued that the content of femininity remains a controversial and somewhat under-researched topic in feminist scholarship. This is also the...
Article
Female underrepresentation in postcompulsory physics is an ongoing issue for science education research, policy, and practice. In this article, we apply Bourdieusian and Butlerian conceptual lenses to qualitative and quantitative data collected as part of a wider longitudinal study of students’ science and career aspirations age 10–16. Drawing on s...
Article
As concerns about participation rates in post-compulsory science continue unabated, considerable research efforts have been focused on understanding and addressing the issue, bringing various theoretical lenses to bear on the problem. One such conceptual lens is that of ‘science capital’ (science-related forms of social and cultural capital), which...
Article
Mixed-attainment teaching has strong support from research and yet English schools are far more likely to teach students in ‘ability’ groups. Although research has considered some of the specific benefits of mixed-attainment grouping, there has been little attention to the reasons schools avoid it. This article explores data from the pilot and recr...
Article
Currently, science in England is distinctive at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in comparison to most other subjects, in that there is a notable stratification of award routes. The most prestigious of these, ‘Triple Science’ (the route for entry for three separate science GCSEs), is championed by English government and industry, b...
Article
It is widely recognised that there is a need to increase and widen participation and engagement in post-compulsory science and informal science learning spaces, such as science museums. Urban young people from working-class and minority ethnic backgrounds are a key target group in this respect. While there is a growing understanding of the intersec...
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No abstract is available for this article.
Article
There is broad international agreement about the importance of increasing participation in science once it is no longer compulsory in school, particularly among groups who have been historically underrepresented in science. Previous research reflects that despite broadly positive attitudes to science in and outside of school, there is limited trans...
Article
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This paper sets out an argument and approach for moving beyond a primarily arts-based conceptualization of cultural capital, as has been the tendency within Bourdieusian approaches to date. We advance the notion that, in contemporary society, scientific forms of cultural and social capital can command a high symbolic and exchange value. Our previou...
Article
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There are widespread policy concerns to improve (widen and increase) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics participation, which remains stratified by ethnicity, gender, and social class. Despite being interested in and highly valuing science, Black students tend to express limited aspirations to careers in science and remain underrepres...
Article
The close association between science and masculinity has been widely discussed, yet few studies have focused on boys’ negotiation with, and participation in, school science. This paper seeks to trouble monolithic notions of the link between science and masculinity, arguing that the “ideal science student” is a classed, racialized, and gendered con...
Article
This paper contributes to the literature on complementary schools as sites of learning and social and cultural identification. We draw on a small-scale multi-method qualitative study conducted in Albanian and Bulgarian community schools in London to explore the agendas of ‘new’ Eastern European complementary schools with respect to learning and her...
Article
Background: It is widely agreed that more needs to be done to improve participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Despite considerable investment in interventions, it has been difficult to discern their effectiveness and/or impact on participation. Purpose: This paper discusses findings from a six-week pilot STEM caree...
Book
This collection focuses on employer engagement in education, how it is delivered and the differentiated impact it has on young people in their progression through schooling and higher education into the labour market. The focus is not narrowly on vocational or technical education or work-related learning, but on how employer engagement (eg, work ex...
Article
Students' engagement with science and the numbers pursuing further study of science continue to be a concern among policy-makers, particularly in Western countries. Previous research reflects that most children have positive attitudes to science at age 10 but that, by age 14, attitudes towards and interest in further pursuit of science have decline...
Article
Young people’s aspirations remain an enduring focus of education policy interest and concern. Drawing on data from an ongoing five-year study of young people’s science and career aspirations (age 10–14), this paper asks what do young people aspire to at age 12/13, and what influences these aspirations? It outlines the main aspirations and sources o...
Article
There is widespread international concern about post-16 participation rates in science, with women's under-representation constituting a particular issue. This paper contributes to these debates through a novel, critical examination of the role of masculinity within boys' negotiations of science aspirations. Drawing on a UK longitudinal study of ch...
Article
Full-text available
Internationally, there is widespread concern about the need to increase participation in the sciences (particularly the physical sciences), especially among girls/women. This paper draws on data from a five-year, longitudinal study of 10–14-year-old children’s science aspirations and career choice to explore the reasons why, even from a young age,...
Article
There is international concern over persistent low rates of participation in postcompulsory science—especially the physical sciences—within which there is a notable underrepresentation of girls/women. This paper draws on data collected from a survey of more than 9,000 10/11‐year‐old pupils and 170 interviews (with 92 children and 78 parents) from a...
Article
Sue Sissling and Professor Louise Archer discuss how to promote researchers and teachers working together in your school in order to improve science and mathematics education.
Article
There is a continuing international concern about a decline in the pursuit of post-compulsory science. One suggested cause concerns the role that young people's narrow perceptions of scientists may play in deterring them from pursuing science qualifications and careers. Research would suggest that the ages of 10–14 appear to be a critical period fo...
Article
Despite an increasing sociological interest in the middle classes and their educational practices, research has largely concentrated on the white middle classes. This paper considers the case of the minority ethnic (ME) middle classes through empirical data from a small, exploratory study conducted in England with 36 minority ethnic, ‘middle‐class’...
Article
Full-text available
Low participation rates in the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) post-16 are a matter of international concern. Existing evidence suggests children’s science aspirations are largely formed within the critical 10 to 14 age period. This article reports on survey data from over 9,000 elementary school children in Englan...
Article
Full-text available
Students' lack of interest in studying science and in science-related careers is a concern in the UK and worldwide. Yet there is limited data, particularly longitudinal, on the sources and development of science-related aspirations. In response, the ASPIRES (Science Aspirations and Career Choice: Age 10–14) longitudinal study is investigating the d...
Article
Within the sociology of education, there is a growing interest in the middle classes and their educational practices, yet research to date has predominantly been framed within the context of the white middle classes. The article comes from a small, exploratory qualitative study exploring the identities and educational practices of the minority ethn...
Article
Notions of culture, ethnicity and identity are highly political (and also personally meaningful) issues within diasporic communities. Complementary schools are particularly interesting sites in this respect, as they are often set up with an explicit cultural agenda of ‘preserving’ or ‘maintaining’ ‘traditional’ culture and language within diasporic...
Article
The concern about students' engagement with school science and the num-bers pursuing the further study of science is an international phenomenon and a matter of considerable concern among policy makers. Research has demonstrated that the ma-jority of young children have positive attitudes to science at age 10 but that this interest then declines sh...
Article
This paper discusses findings from a small‐scale empirical exploration of the views, experiences and educational practices of middle‐class minority ethnic families in the United Kingdom. It draws on semi‐structured interviews conducted with 36 parents, pupils and ‘young professionals’. Analyses consider to what extent generic class resources, as id...
Article
Full-text available
Students’ interest in studying science and their aspirations to pursue science-related careers is a topic of global concern. In this paper, a set of data gathered for the initial phase of the 5-year study of Science Aspirations and Careers: Age 10–14 (the ASPIRES project) is presented. In the initial phase of this project, a questionnaire exploring...
Article
Drawing on empirical data from a project exploring the experiences and identities of London school children who were identified by their schools as being 'at risk of dropping out' of education, this paper highlights schools as important local spaces in urban children's identity constructions. It is argued that the way in which schools and local are...
Article
User perceptions and experiences of complementary education are neglected in the research literature, yet they are important in providing understanding concerning complementary schools and their impact on educational and social identities. This paper explores the constructions of parents of pupils attending these schools, and of teachers at these s...
Article
Chinese supplementary schools have been accused of having ‘old‐fashioned’ and ineffective teaching methods, with most teaching being undertaken by ‘unqualified’ volunteer parent teachers. But how do pupils themselves interpret and experience the complementary school setting and to what extent do they feel it affects their learning? Drawing on empir...
Article
Pupils' experiences of complementary education are neglected in the research literature, yet they are highly important in terms of understanding complementary schools and their impact on pupils' educational and social identities. This article explores British‐Chinese pupils' discursive constructions of the purposes and benefits of Chinese complemen...
Article
Remarkably, little academic attention has been given to the phenomenon of Chinese language schools in the UK. This paper aims to address this important gap in knowledge through the development of a detailed mapping of the population and practise of Chinese complementary schooling in England. The paper draws on ethnographically informed observations...
Article
This article contributes to ongoing work that seeks to understand the nature and formation of contemporary academic identities. Drawing on interview data conducted with a sample of 'younger' academics within UK universities, it considers how they position themselves (and in turn experience being positioned) in relation to notions of 'authenticity'...
Article
There is a growing literature discussing the experiences and identities of academics working within the ‘new times’ of contemporary academia. Critiques have been levied at the impact of neoliberalism on the nature, organisation and purpose of higher education (HE), highlighting the negative consequences for ‘traditional’ academic identities and pra...
Article
This article argues that in Britain dominant educational discourses of ‘the ideal pupil’ exclude minority ethnic pupils and prevent them from inhabiting a position of authentic ‘success’. It suggests that ‘the successful pupil’ is a desired yet refused subject position for many minority ethnic young people — even for those who are (to some extent)...
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This paper discusses how the rhetoric of ‘diversity’ is mobilised within New Labour HE policy discourse around widening participation (WP). The paper argues that these constructions of diversity derive an important element of their symbolic power from an association with notions of ‘equality’—and yet the radical/egalitarian potential of WP policy a...
Article
This paper considers how urban, ethnically diverse working class girls’ constructions of femininities mediate and shape their dis/engagement with education and schooling. We discuss how girls generated a sense of identity value/worth through practices such as ‘speaking my mind’—which prioritized notions of agency and visibility and resisted the sym...
Article
This article explores how urban working-class young people's performances of embodied identities - as enacted through practices of 'taste' and style - are played out within the educational field. The article considers how such practices may contribute to shaping young people's post- 16 'choices' and their views of higher education as 'not for me'....
Article
This paper discusses the ways in which inner‐city, ethnically diverse, working‐class girls’ constructions of hetero‐femininities mediate and shape their dis/engagement with education and schooling. Drawing on data from a study conducted with 89 urban, working‐class young people in London, attention is drawn to three main ways through which young wo...
Article
Various studies have found that British girls' curriculum subject preferences and future aspirations have changed and diversified in recent years. Other work has suggested that girls educated in single-sex schools might have a different (perhaps less gender-stereotypical) experience of education in comparison with their contemporaries at co-educati...
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Full-text available
Students' post‐compulsory pathways and occupational aspirations in the UK have been shown to differ considerably according to gender, social class and ethnicity. School‐based work experience provides many pupils with their first significant encounters with the world of work, and is positioned as providing diverse experiences in this regard. Yet gen...