Investigating Family Science Habitus and Science Capital to Support the Language of Possibility Around Science
Effective Years: 2022-2025
Families are children’s first teachers and significantly influence children’s interest, engagement, and aspirations (IEA) in science. Family attitudes, conversations about science, expectations for their children, and family science/STEM career role models can be influential, particularly for people who identify with populations that are underrepresented in science. However, what families from these populations provide in terms of support for IEA in science is often framed as inadequate or deficient. This may not present an accurate picture of family interactions, nor does it consider overlooked or undervalued assets available to these families that can be leveraged to support IEA in science. Consequently, it becomes imperative to expand notions of what family science supports look like so that a wider segment of the U.S. may see experiencing the joy and wonder of science as possible for them. Broadening the lens of what actions and behaviors are recognized as what ‘counts’ as supporting science in the home may encourage those who typically feel excluded from science to see that what they already possess (skills, knowledge, dispositions), and who they are, is not only valued in science but needed to move forward as a society to advance scientific discoveries, foster science literacy, and promote careers in scientific fields.
The main goal of this project is to develop a validated instrument for families that captures and measures broader and more inclusive notions of family science habitus (tacit ideas of “what we do” and “who we are” as a family in terms of science that becomes a child’s ‘language of possibility’ in science) and science capital (science-related resources that a person might have). There is currently no validated instrument that asks families themselves about their family science habitus and science capital; the creation of this instrument endeavors to enable familial voices to be heard and valued. A secondary goal of this project is for the PI to build capacity in quantitative research, learn more about families from underrepresented populations in science, and forge connections for future research with local communities and experts. This project and mentoring experience aim to position the PI to conduct needed research that pinpoints strengths and assets in families that can be built upon to provide more opportunities and supports. The outcomes of this project hold potential to change what stakeholders believe about families and science as well as how to truly engage with families as partners in science education.
The project is supported by NSF's EHR Core Research Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (ECR: BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators’ capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research.
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.