A Phenomenological Analysis of STEM Interest, Access, and Persistence of Latina English Learners
Effective Years: 2020-2023
This capacity building project includes a study to examine the experiences of Latina English Learners to identify the resources and assets that impact their academic and career development and persistence in STEM. Guided by the culture wealth model and social cognitive career theory, the investigator will conduct a qualitative study using a phenomenology design to understand the meaning of these students’ experiences using three developmental milestones: interest, access, and persistence. The investigator will use an anti-deficit view to interpret and make meaning of the experiences and assets that may have impacted Latina English Learners’ outcomes. The study will provide insights concerning the career development and counseling support for this student population in both secondary and postsecondary schools. The findings will provide a deeper understanding, interpretation, and analysis of Latina English Learners’ STEM experiences and career decisions to inform interventions and initiatives to broaden the participation of Latina students in STEM. The investigator proposes to increase proficiency in qualitative research methods from a phenomenological perspective and acquire expertise in qualitative data analysis through a professional development plan that includes formal graduate courses, workshops, and mentor support.
The research project will investigate four research questions: (1) What are Latina English Learners’ lived experiences in STEM from PreK-12 to college? , (2) What assets and resources do Latina English Learners describe as being beneficial to their academic and career development in STEM?,(3) How do Latina English Language Learners develop and maintain their interest, access, and persistence in STEM from PreK-12 to college? and (4) What barriers do Latina English Learners experience in STEM academic and career development from PreK-12 to college? A demographic questionnaire, individual semi-structured interviews, and a focus group will be used to collect data from participants at six institutions in three states. The study will address some of the major limitations in quantitative research from previous literature on STEM education of either Latinas or English Learners, by providing much needed qualitative information on the “when,” “how,” and “why”. It will also provide a deeper understanding of those resources and assets they have and meanings of those experiences that may have played a key role in Latina ELs’ STEM education.
This project is funded by the Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (BCSER) competition that enables early- and mid-career researchers to acquire expertise to investigate topics relevant to STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM professional workforce development.
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.