14 SES 14 JS, STEM, Gender and Achievement in Schools
Joint Paper Session NW 14 and NW 24
In today’s education research ˝STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) problem˝ is becoming more and more relevant. Recent document ˝Encouraging STEM studies for the Labour Market˝, created on the demand of Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament (2015) notes persisting shortages of skills in STEM fields despite of high labour demands for these occupations which are also expected to continuously grow. Answering why is there a lack of interest for the STEM related occupations is a problem which needs to be addressed on different social, psychological, cultural, economic and educational levels, all in attempt to identify practices that could foster students’ motivation in this field and help to increase the supply of STEM related skills on European labour market.
This study addresses some of the psychological constructs that are important in better understanding of the development of achievement motivation in STEM school subjects and later motivation in choosing STEM related job. Our research evolves around Eccles’ expectancy - value model as one of the most relevant theoretical frames in explaining achievement - related choices (Eccles, 1993). This model postulates that one’s expectation of success and subjective value of the task or activity strongly predict one’s achievement related choices, but also, one’s performance. Model furthermore emphasizes parents as important socializers of these motivational beliefs (Eccles, 1992). Previous research confirmed that family has a strong influence on students’ aspirations, engagement and achievement in STEM fields (Archer, DeWitt, Osborne, Dillon, Willis & Wong, 2012; Gilmartin, Li, & Aschbacher, 2006; Stake, 2006). Parents need to be seen as crucial social agents who along with teachers have an important role in shaping students’ academic and professional aspirations in STEM domain (Chouinard, Karsenti & Roy, 2007). Although they are identified as valuable resource for improving STEM motivation, parents’ influences are still not enough explored (Harackiewicz et al., 2012).
Our research questions were formed primarily around importance value of the task as a component of construct of subjective task value, that is shown to be a strong predictor of the number of math and science courses students take in high school (Simpkins, Davis-Kean, & Eccles,2006; Updegraff, Eccles, Barber, & O’Brien, 1996). We aimed to examine how students perceive how important is their academic achievement in STEM fields to their parents; what is the level of importance value students, themselves place on STEM school subjects; and how similar are those two assessments of importance. We hypostasized that there will be significant correlation between these two assessments since the parental socialization portion of Expectancy – value model suggests that parents’ child specific beliefs and behaviors both directly and indirectly affect child self – perceptions, subjective task values, goals, performance expectations etc.
Since the Eccles model of parental socialization (1983) suggests that parents values for certain activities may convey to their children through different behaviors related to these activates (for example engaging with their children in math related games at home), we also wanted to examine is parents’ encouragement of STEM interests related to positive students’ importance values of STEM subjects and do these parental behaviors play a mediating/moderating role in congruence between perceived importance values of STEM subjects for their parents and for students themselves. In addition, we searched to see what is the relation of perceived importance value of achievement in STEM school subjects for students’ parents in comparison to the importance they place on other, non – STEM school subjects.
Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2012). Science Aspirations, Capital, and Family Habitus: How Families Shape Children's Engagement and Identification with Science. American Educational Research Journal, 49 (5), 881 - 908. Chouinard, R., Karsenti, T., & Roy, N. (2007). Relations among competence beliefs, utility value, achievement goals, and effort in mathematics. British Journal of Educational Psychology 77, 501–17. Eccles, J. S. (1992). School and family effects on the ontogeny of children's interests, self-perceptions, and activity choices. Developmental Perspectives on Motivation. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 40, 145 – 208. Eccles, J. S., Harold, R. D., & Wigfield, A. (1993). Ontogeny of self and task concepts and activity choice. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Eccles, J.S., Adler, T. F., & Kaczala, C., M. Socialization of Achievement Attitudes and Beliefs: Parental Influences. Child Development, 53, 322 -39. Gilmartin, S. K., Li, E., & Aschbacher, P. (2006). The relationship between secondary students’ interest in physical science or engineering, science class experiences, and family contexts: Variations by gender and race/ethnicity. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 12(2-3), 179–207. Harackiewicz, J. M., Rozek, C. S., Hulleman, C. S., & Hyde, J. S. (2012). Helping parents to motivate adolescents in mathematics and science: An experimental test of a utility-value intervention. Psychological Science, 23(8), 899 – 906. Simpkins, S. D., Davis-Kean, P. E., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Math and science motivation: A longitudinal examination of links between choices and beliefs. Developmental Psychology, 42, 70–83. Stake, J. E. (2006). Pedagogy and student change in the women’s and gender studies classroom. Gender and Education, 18(2), 199–212. Updegraff, K. A., Eccles, J. S., Barber, B. L., & O’Brien, K. M. (1996). Course enrollment as self-regulatory behavior: Who takes optional high school math courses? Learning and Individual Differences, 8, 239–259.
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