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Autori: Babarović, Toni; Glasnović Gracin, Dubravka; Burušić, Josip; Dević, Ivan; Šakić Velić, Marija
Naslov: Personal Inputs and Contextual Supports as Predictors of STEM Aspirations among Boys and Girls
Skup: EERA - European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) 2016
Mjesto i datum: Dublin, Irska, 22.-26.08.2016
Ključne riječi: STEM aspirations ; STEM achievement ; gender differences
This paper is aimed to explain the certain determinants of aspirations for STEM occupations among primary school boys and girls in Croatia. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) problem is relatively new, emerging and socially very relevant. The interest of youth for vocations is this field is declining, resulting in shortage of STEM graduates and experts (EU, 2004 ; Osborne i Dillan, 2008 ; UNESCO, 2010). However, the comprehensive studies of problems related to the diminished interest for the STEM field in Croatia have not been carried out. The early formation of STEM interests among boys and girls is particularly important in the context of Croatian educational system, where students have to make their first career decisions at the age of 14, choosing different educational paths. In this study, we used the Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown and Hackett, 1994) as a theoretical framework to predict interest and intention to pursue STEM educational choices and careers among primary school students. This model encompasses measures of an individual's selfefficacy, outcome expectations, personal inputs and background, and contextual supports and/or barriers to explain reasoning behind students' academic or career choices. One particular characteristic that affects STEM interest and career choice is gender. Studies show that boys and girls differ in their attitudes towards the STEM field (Becker, 1989 ; Sjoberg & Schreiner, 2005) and interest for STEM school subjects (Murphy & Whitelegg, 2006 ; Osborne, Simon, & Collins, 2003). They also differ in their actual STEM career choices, with a smaller number of women than men in these careers (Blickenstaff, 2005 ; Ceci, Williams, & Barnett, 2009 ; Gallagher & Kaufman, 2005 ; Watt & Eccles, 2008). Some studies showed (e.g., Fredricks & Eccles, 2002 ; Hyde et al., 1990) that gender differences in academic self-concept mediate career choice and that they are the primary explanation for the diminished interest of women in STEM careers. Others (e.g., Schreiner and Sjoberg, 2007) proposed that the main reason why young female do not choose careers in engineering and related fields is because they cannot identify themselves with these careers. Thus, we wanted to test the hypothesis that the determinants of STEM career aspirations have different pattern for boys and girls. We used variables related to students' family characteristics and parental attitudes, peers influences, school achievement, attitudes toward STEM education in school, STEM self-concept, and STEM activities outside the schools in order to predict STEM career aspirations among boys and girls. Method: Respondents were 360 primary school students, attending grades 6 to 8 (age 12 to 15 ; M=13.3 years). There were 195 boys and 165 girls in the sample. The data were collected during their regular classes in schools, by the paper and pencil method. The assessment lasted 40 minutes, and the questionnaires were administered by a trained researcher. The questionnaire consisted of different scales and variables related to school achievement, STEM aspirations and attitudes, educational plans and aspirations, and demographic data. The scales used in the research were mostly derived and adapted from ASPIRES project (Archer et al., 2013). We applied hierarchical regression analyses separately in boys’ and girls’ samples in order to predict Aspirations toward STEM careers (scale). The first block of predictors, named Family influences consisted of: Family education status, Parental ambitions/support (scale), and Parental attitudes to science (scale). The second block, Self-concept in science and attitudes towards science in school included: Positive self-concept in science (scale), Negative self-concept in science (scale), and Attitudes toward school science (scale). The third block, Peer support, included two scales: Peer attitudes to science (scale), and Peer orientation to school (scale). The fourth block was School achievement: GPA from the previous grade and GPA in STEM subjects in the previous grade. The last block included three scales: Positive images of scientists (scale), Negative images of scientists (scale), and Interest for science out of school (scale), and it was named Out of school STEM attitudes and interests. All scales used in the research have clear and expected one factor structure and adequate reliability (Cronbach’s alphas). Expected Outcomes: The regression models in the boys’ and girls’ samples accounted for different percentage of variance in STEM careers aspirations (R2=.47 and R2=.33, respectively). In the boys’ sample the STEM aspirations can be better explained by the used set of predictors, and regression coefficients showed clearer and more straightforward pattern. The highest incremental validity in both samples was observed for the second block of predictors (Self-concept in science and attitudes towards science), but it was still substantially higher for boys than for girls (ΔR2=.28 and ΔR2=.09, respectively). All other blocks, except Peers support, also explained significant (p<.05) proportion of additional variance in both samples. However, the significant predictors in the final step of regression model were substantially different for boys and for girls. The significant predictors of STEM aspirations in boys’ sample were Attitudes toward school science (β=.246), Interest for science out of school (β=.235), Negative self-concept in science (β=-.153), and Negative images of scientists (β=-.128). In the girls’ sample, only two significant direct predictors occurred: GPA in STEM subjects in the previous grade (β=.282), and Interest for science out of school (β=.258), while two other significant predictors acted as suppressor variables in the model: GPA from the previous grade (β=-.229), and Peer attitudes to science (β=-.166). Similar research (DeWitt et al., 2011) partly resembles our results. The self-concept in science, engagement in science-related activities outside of school, and images of scientists predict aspirations in science, but only in boys’ sample. In girls’ sample the used variables are less efficient for prediction of STEM aspirations, and it seems that girls’ aspirations are more related to extrinsic factors such as school grades. Reasons for the observed gender differences are further discussed from empirical and theoretical point of view.
Vrsta sudjelovanja: Predavanje
Vrsta prezentacije u zborniku: PP prezentacija
Vrsta recenzije: Međunarodna recenzija
Projekt / tema: IP-09-2014-9250
Izvorni jezik: ENG
Kategorija: Znanstveni
Znanstvena područja:
Puni text rada: 854187.Personal-Inputs-and-Contextual-Supports-as-Predictors-of-STEM-Aspirations.pdf (tekst priložen 8. Sij. 2018. u 10:54 sati)
Upisao u CROSBI: Ivan Dević (, 7. Sij. 2017. u 00:28 sati

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