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.

Ninth-grade biology students create cell models using clay.

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STEM Learning and Learning Environments STEM Learning and Learning Environments  Broadening Participation in STEM Broadening Participation in STEM

An Examination of Grit in Relation to Diverse High School Students' STEM Motivation, Self-Regulation, and Outcomes: A Longitudinal Validation Study

Effective Years: 2016-2021

Concern about students' participation and performance in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and choice of STEM occupations has shifted from a focus on overall lack of participation in STEM careers to the underrepresentation of women and certain minority groups such as African Americans in careers in engineering and the sciences. As researchers attempt to uncover why some students are more likely to pursue STEM careers, they increasingly have focused on motivational and self-regulatory factors that have been shown to impact students' educational and occupational choices. One construct that some researchers have focused on is grit, defined as one's perseverance and passion in the pursuit of long-term, challenging goals. grit has become very popular in the scientific community and the national media, and some have argued that researchers and practitioners need to help students increase their grit. However, grit's validity, especially in relation to conceptually similar motivational and self-regulatory constructs, and for different ethnic and gender groups, has not been systematically explored. It is essential to establish grit as a valid psychological construct before designing grit-based interventions intended to enhance students' achievement in STEM and other areas.

The proposed study is a longitudinal validation study of grit and its relations to STEM outcomes. It will be conducted with an ethnically and economically diverse sample of middle and high school students. Students will be surveyed twice in 8th grade and once in 9th grade, and their levels of grit and other motivation, self-regulatory, and personality variables will be measured. Information about students' choices to take STEM courses, their grades in STEM courses, and their anticipated major in college will also be collected. Using sophisticated Item Response Theory (IRT) and other latent variable modeling procedures, grit's convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity will be assessed over time, and gender and ethnic differences will be examined. The project will be transformative in its use of sophisticated analysis strategies to examine grit's uniqueness from other theoretically based motivation and self-regulation constructs that have clear relations to STEM outcomes.