Previous research has demonstrated that a strong Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) identity predicts persistence and success in STEM disciplines. Individuals identify themselves with STEM to varying degrees depending on their perceptions of STEM and their other important identities. This project will add to the tools available to researchers to measure STEM-identity, other identities, and identity balance by developing, piloting and testing a new measurement instrument and analytic approach. Approximately 300 STEM majors, from underrepresented groups and from groups traditionally well represented in STEM, will be recruited into the project from three California State University campuses (San Marcos, Long Beach, Northridge). The new measurement tool will allow researchers to better understand STEM identity development and is expected to lead to more effective interventions to increase and broaden participation in STEM.
The measurement instrument design is based on social identity and balanced identity theories and is intended to answer a range of research questions about STEM-identity and its balance with other self-identities. This project will test the validity and reliability of this new tool for measuring STEM-identity and the development of STEM-identity over time. This study could advance knowledge about interventions needed to broaden participation in STEM fields. The project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which funds basic research that seeks to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest interventions (and innovations) to address persistent challenges in STEM interest, education, learning, and participation.