Asee peer logo

Gender-Specific Effects of a Summer Research Program on STEM Research Self-Efficacy

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Fundamental: K-12 Student Beliefs, Motivation, and Self Efficacy

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jennifer B. Listman New York University

visit author page

Dr. Jennifer Listman is the Assistant Director, Program Development and Evaluation, Center for K12 STEM Education, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. As the Center’s resident research scientist, she conducts and publishes assessments and outcomes evaluations of Center programs for stewardship, research, and development purposes. Dr. Listman received her B.A. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and her PhD in Anthropological Genetics from New York University in 2009. She conducted research on human evolutionary and migratory history in South East Asian populations and Jewish populations using genomic data and carried out collection of saliva samples as a DNA source from over 500 individuals in rural Thailand, to create a DNA resource of six ethnic populations. In addition, while Associate Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, she conducted research on the evolutionary history of genes involved in alcohol metabolism and substance abuse. She has been awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

visit author page


Vikram Kapila New York University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics and Control Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a GK-12 Fellows project, and a DR K-12 research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under Research Experience for Teachers Site and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. In 2004, he was selected for a three-year term as a Senior Faculty Fellow of NYU Tandon’s Othmer Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 8 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 55 journal articles, and 126 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 17 M.S., and 4 Ph.D. thesis students; 31 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 300 K-12 teachers and 100 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 60 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,500 students annually.

visit author page

Download Paper |


We investigated the effects of a university-based summer research program on high school students’ STEM research self-efficacy as measured by self-ratings before and after the program. We chose self-efficacy, beliefs students’ hold about their capabilities to perform given tasks, due to its position within the foundation of social cognitive career theory which asserts that STEM interest is partly dependent on STEM self-efficacy. In turn, STEM interest is correlated with choice of and persistence in STEM majors, typically required for STEM careers. Therefore, early interventions increasing STEM self-efficacy may have long-term effects on STEM career opportunity. While anecdotal evidence indicates summer research reinforces students’ desire to persist in STEM, we attempted to quantify one program’s short-term effects on STEM research self-efficacy.

Based at a school of engineering within a comprehensive urban university, a previously existing summer engineering immersion program was reformulated three years ago as a formal summer research program for 10th and 11th grade students. The seven-week summer research program includes coursework, participation in an ongoing research project in a faculty lab, and mentoring by a graduate student or a postdoctoral researcher. After an initial application, lab tour, and interview processes, students and labs are matched to align and maximize interests. Students also receive college-career guidance and training in public speaking. The program ends with a colloquium open to the university community and family members of students.

The program is selective (23% acceptance rate; 38 of 167 applicants accepted in 2015). However, to provide access and opportunity to a broad demographic, preference is given to high-potential students who are educationally underserved and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged. Of the 38 accepted students in 2015, 40% self-identified as underrepresented minority (Black/African-American or Hispanic) and 54% were female.

Data were collected via an anonymous online survey instrument both pre and post program. Using a 100-point range on a Likert scale with 10-unit intervals, students were asked to rate their level of confidence, level of motivation, how successful they would be, and degree of worry regarding eight STEM-related tasks, for a total of 32 items. Data were gathered from 92% (35 of 38) of participants pre-program and 89% (33 of 37) of students post-program.

Descriptive statistics suggest that after participation in the summer research program, students’ STEM research self-efficacy increased as measured by higher mean self-ratings of confidence and lower mean self-ratings of worry regarding their abilities to perform STEM research-related tasks. While this was true, on average, for both male and female students, a pre-program STEM research self-efficacy gender gap (females reporting lower mean self-efficacy than males) narrowed post-program. Communication-related tasks showed a reverse pattern: males reported lower self-efficacy pre-program than females. Both genders increased in self-efficacy for these tasks, however, increase for males was greater, such that the gender gap widened and reversed, post-program. Although at present sample size is too small to test for significance, in future years, additional data will be collected from our own program as well as from several other partner organizations conducting similar summer research programs. Our preliminary results hold implications for the use of summer research programs to increase diversity in STEM fields through equalizing STEM research self-efficacy between genders.

Listman, J. B., & Kapila, V. (2016, June), Gender-Specific Effects of a Summer Research Program on STEM Research Self-Efficacy Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25400

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015