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Investigating Student Interest In Post Secondary Stem Education

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Measuring Perceptions of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.838.1 - 10.838.17



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Paper Authors

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Anant Kukreti

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Investigating Student Interest in Post-Secondary STEM Education

Dr. Anant R. Kukreti, Dr. Shafiqul Islam, Dr. Daniel B. Oerther, Dr. Karen Davis, Dr. Mark G. Turner, Dr. Catherine Maltbie, and Dr. Thaddeus W. Fowler

College of Engineering/College of Education University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH


In a world of rapidly changing technology, knowledge explosion, and globalization, there is a fundamental shift in the type of workforce America needs to remain competitive in a complex and integrated global market. Trends and projections of enrollment and degree production suggest a shortfall in scientific and technical capabilities. For example, from 1993 to 2000, the number of public high school graduates went up by 14.6%, but engineering degree production went down by 6.1%. This decline is particularly disturbing given the changing demographics of the US. American children are falling behind in STEM skills; they are simply not “world-class learners” in science and math. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study tested the students of 41 nations. Children from the U.S. were among the leaders in the fourth grade assessment, but by high school they were almost last1. Interest in scientific and mathematical ideas is declining, and students are not being instructed to a level of competence they will need to perform challenging jobs productively.

Another area of concern is the academic achievement of K-12 minority students. Despite the narrowing of achievement levels between white and minority students during the 1980s, particularly in math, recent data raise the possibility that the gap is no longer closing2. Social scientists attribute these differences to high levels of poverty in families of minority children and less education of their parents. It is difficult for schools to compensate for such disadvantages. However, there is evidence that extraordinary schools and teachers make a difference in how all students perform. Research on early intervention and one-on-one tutoring demonstrates that at- risk students can achieve at far higher levels than they have in the past3,4. There is also evidence that taking more challenging STEM courses is related to higher student performance5,6. Raising student achievement requires teachers to meet not only academic needs but also social and cultural needs of students7. This is particularly important because more students are Hispanic (17%) and African American (17%) than teachers (Hispanic: 5% and African American: 8%) in public schools8.

The gap between girls' and boys' achievement and participation in science and math during secondary school education, though narrowing, still exists. In science, data showed no significant differences among 4th and 8th grade girls and boys, but 12th grade boys had higher scores than girls. A recent study of 14 School-to-Work sites found that more than 90% of the

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Kukreti, A. (2005, June), Investigating Student Interest In Post Secondary Stem Education Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15473

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