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Students’ Perceptions of Factors Influencing Choice of Science Streams in Tanzania Secondary Schools

This study explored students’ perceptions of the factors influencing their decision to choose between the Science and Arts streams for ordinary level secondary schools. The study also examined the kind and level of support, guidance and information students receive before making stream choices. Using both qualitative and quantitative approaches, data was gathered through questionnaires, document review, focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews from 101 students, 13 science teachers, 4 heads of schools and (1) District Educational Officer in Morogoro region. The literature review and research questions guided the analysis of data by organizing the analysis section into several themes. The findings of this study indicate that factors such as students’ examination scores, self-efficacy in science, knowledge of available careers, gender and school resource contexts affect students’ choice of science streams. The results also reveal that a majority of students had relatively little knowledge of available careers and how they are related to subject choices. This study recommends that efforts be made to improve secondary students’ performance in science and mathematics since a majority of students perceive performance as a main factor influencing their choice of science subjects. There is a need to review and improve subject streaming processes in schools by providing relevant career guidance and advisory services to enable students make informed stream choices. Finally, special attention should be paid to female performance and participation in science and mathematics because findings from this study have indicated this to be a serious problem.