Proposal Title

Research Based Strategies That Can Improve a Student's Career Choice and Retention for a Sustainable, Lifelong Science Profession

Session Type

Presentation

Room

P&A Rm 148

Start Date

July 2015

Keywords

Careers, Science, STEM, Strategies, Leadership

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers have been at the center of public and private sector discussion for decades and the topic remains newsworthy due to the demand for a skilled workforce. STEM researchers have studied various student groupings in preK-12 and higher education; examining interest, course selection, aptitude and interventions such as summer camps and schools that focus on math and science. Also, gender, race and economic influences have been independently studied for their affect on science career selection. However, this empirical study is distinctly different in methodology and findings.

This qualitative study examined the environmental influences and motivation of adults who chose and sustained science careers using narrative inquiry-storytelling-and described the results using thick description. Being able to conduct face to face interviews, with open-ended questions and further, to observe seasoned professionals from three sectors-health care, science education and agriculture-revealed a combination of factors for a sustainable, lifelong science career. The findings were revealed by coding participant responses in four main themes and subthemes. The four dominant themes were: people, identity, beliefs and attitudes, and feelings. Findings showed that people such as parents, grandparents, siblings and teachers were most influential in forming identity as well as shaping beliefs and attitudes, and feelings in science career choice. Additional influential attributes adult science professionals exhibited were creativity, curiosity, helpfulness, leadership and determination.

Resultant implications can be applied in any K-20 educational setting to support and encourage students with science career choice. In addition, parents, teachers and other stakeholders can benefit from these findings.

This presentation will provide 10 research-based suggestions that can be used to influence and motivate a student's career choice in the science professions. For example, schools should provide professional development for teachers and parents to inform them about science careers. Students need to know about science careers early, and have a skills, interests and strength assessments throughout school. Parents should be informed on their significant role in shaping career choice. All stakeholders should recognize the importance of nurturing what is commonly referred to as "soft skills," such as creativity, curiosity, helpfulness, leadership and determination which sustain science careers over a lifetime. Industry needs to participate in preK-20 education with school visits and internships. These strategies apply to all science disciplines and can be implemented across social boundaries.

Elements of Engagement

The audience will participate in small group discussions: preK-12, higher education or industry. Groups will use sticky pads to record ideas and post to a flip chart:

  • What do you do now to promote science careers?
  • Brainstorm on how to return to your organization to implement the ideas given in the presentation.
  • A spokesperson at each table will report discussion results to the larger group and then place sticky notes on the flip chart.

The results in collaboration within and across boundaries of like and dissimilar entities will become apparent. Results will post on the presenter's website for further reflection.

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Jul 9th, 10:30 AM

Research Based Strategies That Can Improve a Student's Career Choice and Retention for a Sustainable, Lifelong Science Profession

P&A Rm 148

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers have been at the center of public and private sector discussion for decades and the topic remains newsworthy due to the demand for a skilled workforce. STEM researchers have studied various student groupings in preK-12 and higher education; examining interest, course selection, aptitude and interventions such as summer camps and schools that focus on math and science. Also, gender, race and economic influences have been independently studied for their affect on science career selection. However, this empirical study is distinctly different in methodology and findings.

This qualitative study examined the environmental influences and motivation of adults who chose and sustained science careers using narrative inquiry-storytelling-and described the results using thick description. Being able to conduct face to face interviews, with open-ended questions and further, to observe seasoned professionals from three sectors-health care, science education and agriculture-revealed a combination of factors for a sustainable, lifelong science career. The findings were revealed by coding participant responses in four main themes and subthemes. The four dominant themes were: people, identity, beliefs and attitudes, and feelings. Findings showed that people such as parents, grandparents, siblings and teachers were most influential in forming identity as well as shaping beliefs and attitudes, and feelings in science career choice. Additional influential attributes adult science professionals exhibited were creativity, curiosity, helpfulness, leadership and determination.

Resultant implications can be applied in any K-20 educational setting to support and encourage students with science career choice. In addition, parents, teachers and other stakeholders can benefit from these findings.

This presentation will provide 10 research-based suggestions that can be used to influence and motivate a student's career choice in the science professions. For example, schools should provide professional development for teachers and parents to inform them about science careers. Students need to know about science careers early, and have a skills, interests and strength assessments throughout school. Parents should be informed on their significant role in shaping career choice. All stakeholders should recognize the importance of nurturing what is commonly referred to as "soft skills," such as creativity, curiosity, helpfulness, leadership and determination which sustain science careers over a lifetime. Industry needs to participate in preK-20 education with school visits and internships. These strategies apply to all science disciplines and can be implemented across social boundaries.