Engaging Students’ Interest, even with lectures and facts, Best Promotes Interest in STEM Careers

July 20, 2011 at 11:04 am 3 comments

Interesting finding! The authors suggest that it’s not how advanced the classes that matter the most for continuing in STEM, it’s how interesting the classes are.  In fact, more lecture and fact-based instruction does not hinder students from going on in College STEM classes — as long as the classes motivate student interest.  This isn’t an excuse for drill-and-kill.  It does say that it’s not about the amount covered in high school.  Covering more content may just turn students off.  It’s about getting them hooked, even without covering all that much, and then kids can take more advanced stuff when they get to College.

Earlier analyses of these data indicated that students interested in a STEM career in eighth grade were significantly more likely to complete a STEM degree in college. However, that group made up only 20 percent of the STEM degree-earners from the National Education Longitudinal Study’s 1988 sample. This study adds to the previous work by looking at the more complete educational histories of these students and investigating the other 80 percent of STEM graduates from the nationally representative sample.

The key finding is that various indicators of student interest and self-confidence in science and math in high school are strongly associated with students continuing STEM studies through college, above and beyond enrollment and achievement factors. There are also indications that teacher emphasis on further study in STEM has a positive association with persisting in STEM fields. Teacher lecturing and an emphasis on facts and rules were negatively associated. The academic level of high school science and math courses attempted was not significant in predicting persistence.

via Engaging Students’ Interest, Not Just Offering Advanced Classes, Best Promotes Interest in STEM Careers.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. edtechdev  |  July 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Yeah a former advisor mentioned that there was some other study too that showed that motivation/interest/engagement correlated more with the career choices students made than achievement.

    I know that’s true of me, I always did well in math classes, but never was interested in the topic, and part of my recoil over engineering courses and the like was because they are essentially just math classes most of the time. Of course now that I have done some programming I see the value of it much more clearly 🙂

  • 2. New School to Plant STEM Seeds «  |  July 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

    […] Engaging Students’ Interest, even with lectures and facts, Best Promotes Interest in STEM Care… (computinged.wordpress.com) […]

  • […] but they also need to be the truth-seekers in our society.We need more graduates, and we know that engaging them is the best way to get them to continue.  So yes, we need kids in seats, and we need to them to be happy.  But we also have a […]


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