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An Integrated Analysis of School Students’ Aspirations for STEM Careers: Which Student and School Factors Are Most Predictive?

Abstract

Declining enrolments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and a lack of interest in STEM careers are concerning at a time when society is becoming more reliant on complex technologies. We examine student aspirations for STEM careers by drawing on surveys conducted annually from 2012 to 2015. School students in years 3 to 12 (n = 6492) were asked to indicate their occupational choices. A logistic regression analysis showed that being in the older cohorts, possessing high cultural capital, being male, having a parent in a STEM occupation and high prior achievement in reading and numeracy, were significant. This analysis provides a strong empirical basis for school-based initiatives to improve STEM participation. In particular, strategies should target the following: the persistent lack of interest by females in some careers, improving student academic achievement in both literacy and numeracy and expanding knowledge of STEM careers, especially for students without familial STEM connections.

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Correspondence to Kathryn Holmes.

Additional information

This paper is derived from a 2012–2015 Australian Research Council Linkage grant (LP120100013) in partnership with the New South Wales Department of Education. Further funding was obtained from the Australian Government Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme.

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Holmes, K., Gore, J., Smith, M. et al. An Integrated Analysis of School Students’ Aspirations for STEM Careers: Which Student and School Factors Are Most Predictive?. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 16, 655–675 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-016-9793-z

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Keywords

  • Career aspiration
  • Gender
  • STEM education
  • Student achievement