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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STEM Workforce Development STEM Workforce Development  Broadening Participation in STEM Broadening Participation in STEM

STEM Training, Employment in Industry, and Entrepreneurship

Effective Years: 2015-2020

Ohio State University and the University of Michigan are investigating factors that affect graduate student pathways to non-academic careers. The interdisciplinary research team examines two research questions: (1) What are the pathways that graduate students take into non-academic careers? and (2) What is the role of their training environments, including faculty sponsors and networks, in guiding those pathways? To investigate these questions, the researchers will develop a data infrastructure that links the STAR METRICS data to the Survey of Earned Doctorates/Survey of Doctoral Recipients and the Census Bureau Business Register to measure the likelihood that a graduate student would enter a particular career and the subsequent success in following that career path. They explore the relationships between the choice of career pathway and a range of measures of the graduate training environment and examine the links between graduate training and entrepreneurship and industry careers by estimating the causal links between graduate training and entrepreneurship and employment in industry. The project will develop best practices for making these links to study entrepreneurship and industry employment, document the complex pathways for academic-industry engagement, pave the way for an exploratory analysis of the careers of postdocs and non-PhD completers, and lay the foundation for new theoretical models to guide practice. The project also will help inform future national surveys by reporting data and suggesting items that could enable more useful workforce trend analyses.

The primarily empirical research design is guided by a range of theoretical paradigms, including student identity theory or student socialization research, life course theory from sociology, career development theory, and human capital theory from economics. The researchers will apply a wide range of statistical models to test seven theories. These range from a human capital-based conjecture that experience working on risky and/or interdisciplinary research projects prepare students for jobs in the rapidly-changing, high growth (and high volatility) industries that are engines of growth for the nation?s new economy, to a conjecture of socialization and information transmission through networks where connections to industry and entrepreneurship through advisors, peers, and suppliers facilitate entry into industry and entrepreneurship careers. At the same time, the researchers expect new theories to emerge from their exploration of the rich new data that will be constructed. This iterative process will be enhanced by interactions with the expert advisory board, which includes many members of the STEM policy community, who will inform the implementation of the project.

The project is supported by the ECR program that emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. ECR supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest intervention and innovations to address persistent challenges in STEM interest, education, learning and participation.