Asee peer logo

Identifying Why STEM Students Seek Teaching Internships

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.878.1 - 26.878.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Marian S. Kennedy Clemson University

visit author page

M.S. Kennedy is an Associate Professor within the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Clemson University. Her research group focused on the mechanical and tribological characterization of thin films, coatings and biological materials. She also contributes to the engineering education community through her research on self-efficacy and undergraduate research programs.

visit author page


Lisa Benson Clemson University

visit author page

Lisa Benson is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

visit author page


Catherine D. McGough Clemson University

visit author page

Catherine McGough is currently a graduate research assistant in Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University in 2014. Her research interests are in undergraduate engineering student motivations and undergraduate engineering problem solving skill development and strategies.

visit author page

author page

Michelle Cook

Download Paper |


Identifying Why STEM Students Seek Teaching Internships The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program has been implemented through the NSF toencourage science, techology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors to become K-12 mathematicsand science teachers. To increase the number of STEM majors exposed to the teaching profession andapplying for undergraduate/graduate education programs, a paid teaching internship program for currentSTEM undergraduates was created at our institution. This program currently places students withsecondary STEM teachers to observe, assist and finally teach under supervision. The high number of applicants and the competative applicant pool (similar to demographics, GPAand background reported for REU applications) led to the following research questions: (1) How doSTEM students’ perceptions of their present activities and future goals relate to their desire to gainteaching experience?, (2) To what extent do STEM students applying to for teaching internships feel thatthey belong in their current STEM major?, (3) How do these students characterize teaching, and whatattributes do they possess that align with attributes of teachers? Information from program applicationsand electronic questionnaires were our data sources. The questionnaire asked about background,demographics, reasons for pursuing a teaching internship, attributes of professionals in teaching and inSTEM, previous internship experiences, whether they felt a sense of belonging in their currentdepartment, and future goals. In Fall 2014, the applicant pool (n = 51; average age 20.9 ± 2.0 years) drew from majors inengineering (47%), mathematics (10%) and science (41%). Applicants had an average GPA of 3.39 ±0.45 and were mostly upperclassman: 31% seniors, 31% juniors, 24% sophomores, 2% freshman and12% chose not to report. Six applicants (11.7% response rate) completed the electronic questionnaire. Students indicatedthat they sought teaching experiences to gain experience for their future (either in their STEM field or ineducation), to help others, or for self-development (including self-reflection or increasing income). Threestudents did not feel that they had a sense of belonging in their current departments. Students perceived teachers to possess strong social skills and attributes such as leadership,outgoingness, and caring. They primarily perceived professionals in STEM fields to have strongmental/academic skills and attributes such as good time management skills, problem solving skills, andwork ethic. From these responses, only two of six respondents listed commonalities between teachingand STEM (leadership and intelligence). All respondants indicated that they did not have internship or coop experiences in their currentSTEM fields. Survey data collection is ongoing, and will switch to paper surveys to increase responserate. Future work includes examining underlying reasons why applicants to the teaching internshipprogram may not have internship or coop experiences in their current STEM fields, and reasons why theymay not feel a sense of belonging in their current majors.

Kennedy, M. S., & Benson, L., & McGough, C. D., & Cook, M. (2015, June), Identifying Why STEM Students Seek Teaching Internships Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24215

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: © 2015 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