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Factors Influencing Students’ Choice of Elective Science Courses: A Case Study from the American University of Sharjah

DOI: 10.4236/jss.2015.38010, PP. 93-99

Keywords: Environmental Sciences, General Education Courses, Course Choice, United Arab Emirates, Higher Education

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Abstract:

Scientific studies in higher education are becoming an increasing matter of discussion. The Ameri- can University of Sharjah (AUS) encourages the scientific literacy of students who are not enrolled in science or engineering majors by including two required science courses in the curriculum. The courses of choice include biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, astronomy and physics. This study investigates the factors that contribute to students’ choice when selecting science courses at AUS. A survey comprised of open-ended questions as well as quantitative enquiries was administered to students enrolled in environmental science (ENV 100), aiming to investigate the main reason behind their choice. The results of this two year study showed significantly positive attitudes toward the course contents and the benefit of the course towards their future careers. Furthermore, it reveals that students are highly influenced by previous experiences with subjects, professors’ popularity, peer recommendation, their abilities in memorization, and skills in math. The study reveals that the main concern for students is related to the high amount of information and details that the course content covers. In addition, the possibility of obtaining a higher grade was also studied by observing the grade point average (GPA) for science courses over a period of four years. Nonetheless, the main factor for course choice was their genuine interest for the subject matter, which is this case study, was the environmental studies course.

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