Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 637–656 | Cite as

How high school students envision their STEM career pathways

  • Lin ZhangEmail author
  • Michael Barnett


Given that many urban students exclude Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics careers from their career choices, the present study focuses on urban high school students and adopts the social-cultural approach to understand the following questions: how do students envision their careers? What are the experiences that shape students’ self-reflections? And how do students’ self-reflections influence the way they envision their future careers? Five students were interviewed and data were coded in two ways: by topic domains and confidence levels. The research findings indicate that: first, a lack of information about future careers limits students from developing effective strategic plans; second, students’ perceived ability to handle situations of potential barriers and communications with their parents might contribute to their certainty about and confidence in future careers.


Urban high school students STEM career development Career certainty Career vision Underrepresented population 



This paper was supported in part by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL 0833624. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curriculum and Instruction, Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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