BUILDING READINESS AND INTENTION TOWARDS STEM FIELDS OF STUDY AMONG HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Kurban, Elizabeth R.
Cabrera, Alberto F
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This dissertation study investigated the cognitive and contextual influences contributing to the developmental process that high school students undergo in preparing for and considering the selection of an academic major in a STEM field. Guided by the theoretical framework of SCCT (Lent et al., 1994) and Wang’s (2013) conceptual model, I developed a new conceptual model for understanding the STEM readiness and intention development process. The STEM Readiness and Intention Development (SRID) Conceptual Model addresses gaps in previous research, such as the absence of parental involvement. In addition, my research design overcame measurement and analytic shortcomings, while examining the moderating effect of self-efficacy on high school students’ intention to major in a STEM field. Through the use of structural equation modeling with data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, I tested the SRID Conceptual Model and examined the indirect effects of self-efficacy on high school students’ intention to major in a STEM field. The results of these analyses suggest several cognitive and contextual influences contributing to building STEM readiness and students’ intention to major in STEM during high school. This study revealed that STEM readiness is impacted directly by several factors, including SES, math ability, parental involvement, math self-efficacy, science self-efficacy, math interest, and science interest. Intention to major in STEM is directly impacted by STEM readiness, as well as high school students’ interest in math and interest in science. In addition, I found that self-efficacy in math and science had a mediating effect through math and science interest on high school students’ intention to major in STEM, emphasizing the critical impact of self-efficacy throughout the career development process. Overall, this dissertation study expands our knowledge of the process that leads high school students to become prepared for and aspire to pursue majors in STEM. Through facilitating this process among all student populations, we may improve overall enrollment and persistence through the STEM pipeline and contribute to the national goal of increasing the number of graduates in STEM fields of study.