Why are U.S. students lagging behind other countries in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education? Why are U.S. students less motivated to pursue STEM careers?
To answer these questions, Chris Hulleman, a research associate professor at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), and a partnering team of researchers recently received a $798,805 grant from the National Science Foundation. The goal of this new research grant is to develop and validate a new measure of student motivation that can be used to understand the impact of interventions on student achievement and students’ interest in STEM disinclines.
This new grant will help in understanding what teaching recommendations are actually linked to increasing student motivation and persistence in STEM fields. By having motivation-based evaluation measures, researchers and practitioners will be able to better identify the conditions that will lead to increased performance and interest in STEM disciplines. Hulleman and his partners have already gathered preliminary data and early evidence suggests that students’ motivation is positively associated with achievement and interest in STEM disciplines.
The new measure will be developed for multiple academic levels including middle school, high school, and college. This tool is coined a “rapid measure” because of its widespread practical applications and methods of response that will be low burden for students and schools. Due to this design, it is expected that this new measure will be used in longitudinal studies, and as a diagnostic tool to identify struggling students.
Hulleman will be collaborating with Kenn Barron at James Madison University, and Steve Getty and Joseph Taylor from Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), a non-profit curriculum study in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The grant is for a research project entitled, “Validating a Rapid Measure of Student Motivation: Using the Expectancy-Value Theory of Motivation to Understand Student Achievement and Interest in STEM Classrooms,” and will run from November 2012 through October 2015.