LOGAN -- Eighty percent of physics students in today's universities cannot relate scientific theory to real life, says a University of Iowa science educator.

Part of the problem is science teachers are not using good teaching techniques, Robert Yager told public school administrators at Utah State University.

"Science students can do things mechanically; for example, they perform in class and take the tests. But when they leave the course, there's no relevance," Yager said Thursday at the Northern Utah Curriculum Consortium's annual administrators conference.

"They've jumped through the hoops, but it's of no importance other than to get them a pat on the head, a good grade and promotion to a higher science class where they will go through the same mechanical processes," he said.

"Students are unable to find value or use in what they are taught in school."

Yager didn't condemn without offering some glimmer of hope in the form of a new approach to science education called Science/Technology/Society or STS.

"A skill is useless unless there is a context, a place, to use it," the University of Iowa professor said, urging science teachers to adopt a much more practical approach to their work.