Research in Science Education

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 461-481

First online:

The Development of the STEM Career Interest Survey (STEM-CIS)

  • Meredith W. KierAffiliated withDepartment of Curriculum and Instruction, Howard University Email author 
  • , Margaret R. BlanchardAffiliated withDepartment of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, North Carolina State University
  • , Jason W. OsborneAffiliated withCollege of Education & Human Development, University of Louisville
  • , Jennifer L. AlbertAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, North Carolina State University

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Internationally, efforts to increase student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers have been on the rise. It is often the goal of such efforts that increased interest in STEM careers should stimulate economic growth and enhance innovation. Scientific and educational organizations recommend that efforts to interest students in STEM majors and careers begin at the middle school level, a time when students are developing their own interests and recognizing their academic strengths. These factors have led scholars to call for instruments that effectively measure interest in STEM classes and careers, particularly for middle school students. In response, we leveraged the social cognitive career theory to develop a survey with subscales in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In this manuscript, we detail the six stages of development of the STEM Career Interest Survey. To investigate the instrument's reliability and psychometric properties, we administered this 44-item survey to over 1,000 middle school students (grades 6–8) who primarily were in rural, high-poverty districts in the southeastern USA. Confirmatory factor analyses indicate that the STEM-CIS is a strong, single factor instrument and also has four strong, discipline-specific subscales, which allow for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subscales to be administered separately or in combination. This instrument should prove helpful in research, evaluation, and professional development to measure STEM career interest in secondary level students.


STEM interest Instrument Survey Social cognitive career theory STEM careers Confirmatory factor analysis