ECR Projects

Explore past and current fundamental STEM education research projects across the three research areas that NSF's EDU Core Research (ECR) program funds, as well as across ECR funding types. Other search filters draw from both NSF's data and the ECR Hub's hand coding of award abstracts.

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Broadening Participation in STEM Broadening Participation in STEM

The Role of Academic Achievement and Social Inclusion in Broadening STEM Participation: Intended and Actual Attainment at the Intersection of Gender and Race/Ethnicity

Effective Years: 2014-2020

This study makes a major contribution to the literature on disparities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by providing new information about the STEM trajectories of boys and girls from various racial/ethnic subgroups from middle school through the end of college. Using five comprehensive, large-scale and longitudinal datasets, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin will examine differences between subgroups in intended as well as actual STEM attainment and investigate how patterns of academic achievement and social inclusion contribute to those differences. Three of the five datasets are nationally representative samples while the other two were collected in Texas and include large sample populations of Hispanic students. Separately the five datasets provide the opportunity to examine certain unique measures of academic achievement and social inclusion; collectively they provide the chance to investigate STEM trajectories at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender from the 6th grade to the end of college. Special attention will be paid to the experiences of minority girls/women and minority boys/men to gain a more comprehensive and comparative picture of contemporary patterns of inequality.

The analysis focuses on two research aims: 1) to examine how academic achievement and social inclusion contribute to differences in intended STEM attainment during middle and high school by gender and racial/ethnic subgroup; and 2) to examine how academic achievement and social inclusion contribute to differences in actual STEM attainment during college by gender and racial/ethnic subgroup. Statistical analyses include models using logistic and multinomial logistic regression and multi-level models to examine school or classroom level effects. Intended STEM attainment is measured using the answers to various survey questions about desired occupation and comparing the relative preferences with non-STEM occupations. Academic achievement is measured using grades, test scores and course-taking. Social inclusion is measured using answers to questions about perceived peer and teacher support and perceived equitable treatment. The framework of the study is grounded in theories of intersectionality that focus on the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity and the multiple jeopardy that may apply when one is a member of two different groups with relatively lower status. This analysis uses large-scale data to explicitly address the experiences of different groups and to uncover patterns that may affirm this jeopardy or identify instances of resiliency when students succeed in educational environments.

The ultimate goal of the project is to broaden STEM participation by contributing new knowledge about the factors that promote or impede the retention and attainment of women and minority youth in STEM fields. Findings will be presented at academic and policy-related conferences, published in top-tier peer-reviewed journals in education and sociology, and distributed through press releases to local and national media outlets to reach a broad public audience. The research team will also use their extant relationships with national teacher professional development programs to communicate research findings to key audiences of primary and secondary teachers across the country. Additionally, the project is working to broaden participation through the recruitment and training of women and minority doctoral students in the fields of STEM education and sociology. The diverse perspectives of these students, coupled with the rigorous analytical training they will receive, are critical for preparing future generations of academic researchers to study STEM equality.