The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California-Irvine, and the University of Michigan, will examine the underrepresentation of Hispanics in STEM fields. Hispanic youth, the largest minority and fastest growing demographic group, are the most likely to drop out of the STEM pipeline before college and are the least likely to complete college STEM training. Understanding the psychosocial non-cognitive influences on Hispanic youth's educational and occupational decisions is critical for designing effective strategies to confront this issue. The researchers will document the association of these non-cognitive constructs with Hispanic youth's STEM-related educational and occupational choices and persistence. The project will be funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports fundamental research on STEM learning and education.
The study builds on an existing longitudinal study of 14,000 mostly Hispanic and low-income middle and high school students to create a 15-year database. It also follows up on 1500 Hispanic youths with a more targeted survey. This study will contribute to the further refinement of two major social-cognitive/motivational theories of educational success and educational and occupational choices: Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) and Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT), documenting their association with Hispanic youth's STEM-related educational and occupational persistence. The longitudinal dataset will include measures of such essential constructs as: (a) self-efficacy, mindsets, subjective task values, and affective experiences, (b) educational and career aspirations and attainment, (c) high school course choices, and (d) academic achievement. The researchers will examine the links between these constructs assessed in secondary school and post high school educational and occupational choices and persistence. Finally, the researchers will assess the links between students' experiences in math classrooms, immediate over-the-year changes (motivational beliefs, college and career aspirations) and long-term outcomes (college and occupational choices).