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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Equity in Engineering: Understanding and Promoting All Elementary School Children's Knowledge of and Motivation to Engage in Engineering

Effective Years: 2016-2020

Increasing concern in recent years has highlighted the low percentage of adults who are earning degrees and pursuing careers in engineering, and this is especially true for female and ethnic minority individuals. Given that early experiences have a profound effect on later skill development and one's motivation to learn, it is essential to target children's early beliefs and experiences to better understand and change occupational disparities later in life. Very few studies have been conducted looking systematically at young children's beliefs about engineering in majority or underrepresented populations.

This project, guided by expectancy-value theory and ability mindset beliefs, makes three critical intellectual merit contributions. First, this project is developing and validating age-appropriate measures to assess elementary school children's occupational knowledge, stereotypes, and achievement-related beliefs within engineering. Second, this project is filling a gap in the literature by examining gender and ethnic differences in children's developing occupational and stereotype knowledge and achievement-related beliefs associated with engineering. Third, this project is assessing the promise of a time-efficient and cost-effective growth mindset intervention to promote positive beliefs and performance in engineering. The project involves cross-sectional survey research methods and a randomized experiment with approximately 3,600 elementary school students and their teachers. At least half of the students who participate will be from underrepresented backgrounds. Teachers will participate in training on integrating engineering concepts into their curricula and maximizing students' motivation and engagement in engineering.

This project is supported by NSF's EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program 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. The program 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.