Advanced Research Winner 2019:
The United States currently faces a shortage of qualified workers in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The first critical step in preventing the labor shortage in STEM is understanding the factors that guide adolescents toward STEM pursuits. Drawing on Eccles’ expectancy-value theory (EVT), the current study aims to identify factors that are relevant to adolescents’ interest in STEM majors and careers. Data were collected from 629 adolescents (Mage = 16.09). Participants attended a high school in northern California and predominantly identified as Asian American (82% of the sample). Preliminary analyses revealed that adolescent boys had higher STEM self-expectancies than did adolescent girls, whereas there was no gender difference in STEM values. Consistent with expectations, multiple regression demonstrated that STEM self-expectancies and values accounted for a significant amount of variance in participants’ interest in STEM majors and careers. STEM value was an especially strong predictor; adolescents tended to be most interested in STEM pursuits when they were also high in STEM value. Moderation analyses showed that the association between STEM value and interest in STEM majors and careers was stronger for girls than for boys. As a whole, this study’s findings suggest that valuing and enjoying STEM pursuits during high school could be an important antecedent of pursuing a STEM major and a STEM career later in life.
STEM; Expectancy-value theory; Academic achievement; Adolescents; STEM; Asian American; Parent expectation; Self-expectancies; Values
Developmental Psychology | Education | Psychology | School Psychology
Predictors of Adolescents’ Interest in Stem Majors and Careers.
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