CAREER TRAJECTORIES OF STEM DOCTORAL STUDENTS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF LATENT GROUPS USING CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE MEASURES AND METHODS
Effective Years: 2022-2024
This research project focuses on understanding the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups in STEM fields. Three aims frame the project team's research plan. First is to examine factors that influence and predict career trajectories of subgroups of STEM doctoral students and graduates based on their career motivations and aspirations. Second is to develop and integrate culturally responsive student and context-level measures to investigate the career pathways of STEM PhD students. Third is to validate survey measures for marginalized groups in STEM. Thus framed, the project offers both substantive and methodological contributions. In the first case, the project holds promise to provide novel empirical evidence to understand STEM students’ career trajectories, the mechanisms and factors that influence them, and variability across diverse subgroups. In the second case, the project seeks to develop new measures and scales associated with Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), evaluating their psychometric properties and evaluating their operation and utility across diverse populations. Moreover, the study results could address key shortcomings in current quantitative analyses of STEM graduate training and career development.
The project's principal investigators will employ a mixed-methods research design to answer three sets of research questions: (1) What discreet sub-populations can be identified based on the career motivations and objectives of STEM PhD students and recent graduates? What are the characteristics of each sub-population? (2) What individual proximal and broader social factors influence the career trajectories of STEM Ph.D. students and recent graduates within each sub-population? Why? (3) Does evidence support the construct and cross-group validity of the survey constructs adapted and developed for this study? The investigators will collect survey data from current and recent doctoral students of three North Carolina institutions and analyze the data set using regression mixture modeling. The study results could inform policies and practices to expand the pipeline for diverse STEM doctoral students.
The project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program. ECR supports fundamental STEM education research projects that address issues relevant to STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM 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.