Piquing young students’ interest in science does more than taking on advanced high school courses in the subject area when it comes to recruiting students for careers in the STEM fields, a study in the journal Science Education says.
Researchers Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia and Adam V. Maltese of Indiana University reached that conclusion when they added their own analysis and data to a 1988 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. They found that students’ intrinsic interest and self-confidence in science and math far outweighed coursework in predicting who went on to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields.
Among college-bound students, the researchers found no correlation between taking more science and math classes in high school and choosing a STEM major in college. Race and gender also played no role within that group in determining which students chose a STEM-related degree, the report says.
A version of this article appeared in the July 13, 2011 edition of Education Week as STEM Learning