Impacts of Hard/Soft Skills on STEM Workforce Trajectories
Effective Years: 2020-2025
The study will assess the skills held by individuals at the time of PhD attainment and the measurable impacts that such skills may have on individual career trajectory. Investigators will conduct a longitudinal study that links individual-level data, academic program data, professional attainment data, and employer profile data. These data will enable an empirical assessment of the role that communication, leadership, and management skills play in shaping the career trajectories of PhD recipients across both academic and non-academic employment sectors, while accounting for characteristics of doctoral training environments at the research team level. Findings will inform evidence-based practice for PhD education by providing data that can guide the investment of resources to best prepare doctoral recipients for the workforce.
Theinvestigators will integrate psychological, sociological, and economic lenses to identify key cognitive, experiential, and career translational predictors of scientific contributions and their real-world impacts in line with five research questions. The first line of research entails assessing PhD graduates at the approximate time of degree completion to determine (1) the extent to which they may or may not be proficient in the identified soft skills, (2) the extent to which their reported training in these skills might predict their proficiency, and (3) the extent to which measured proficiency for these skills might predict professional trajectories within or outside the academy. Investigators will link individuals’ assessment performance and experiential training data to the Universities Measuring the Effects of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science (UMETRICS) data set maintained by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS). This data infrastructure will enable the project team to understand the effects of graduate student training and characteristics of soft skills and subsequent career outcomes, generating valuable insights about their entry into academic and non-academic careers.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.