Attitudes, Interest and Factors Influencing STEM Enrolment Behaviour: An Overview of Relevant Literature

  • Elaine Regan
  • Jennifer DeWitt


Post-compulsory participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is an ongoing international concern and forms a key motivation underpinning the Interests and Recruitment in Science (IRIS) research project. In this chapter, we draw upon the extensive research base connected to this issue in order to draw out and reflect upon some of the factors influencing STEM enrolment behaviour, paying particular attention to issues of gender imbalance in STEM study. In the first half of the chapter, we focus on theoretic models of choice, calling attention to research on attitudes to science, which is considered closely related to post-compulsory subject choice. We also acknowledge work that draws upon psychological constructs related to identity and interest, which also may inform understanding of STEM participation. In addition, the complexity of the issues surrounding and underpinning STEM enrolment is, we believe, highlighted by the relatively limited number of models of enrolment behaviour that integrate results from a range of research. Following this reflection, the remainder of the chapter is devoted to outlining a number of factors which have been identified by multiple research studies as influencing STEM choice, namely: age, attainment, teaching and learning, school type, influential individuals (parents and teachers), and images of science and scientists. We finish by reflecting on the influence of gender on subject choice, given the IRIS study’s particular concern with this issue.


Science Education Cognitive Preference Subject Choice Social Cognitive Career Theory Prior Attainment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Professional StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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