All over the world, youths have consistently varied in their levels of STEM career knowledge, their career interests and their intentions of pursuing a STEM career. STEM career knowledge is believed to define a student’s familiarity with a particular STEM career, varied considerably based on the learning institution’s STEM career guidance. The level of STEM career knowledge a student has directly affected his/her wishes of pursuing a STEM career in the future (Compeau 2016; Zhang and Barnett 2015). The seventh grade is the essential time period for imparting STEM career interest and for building the self-interest in mathematics and science, thus it’s during the middle school age that a student’s beliefs about competency and interests commence solidifying (Simpkins et al 2006).
In order to fully prepare the upcoming generation of the world population with the relevant knowledge concerning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, so as to be capable of applying reasoning, findings of science, art aesthetics as well as brains of creativity in order to advance national progress has always remained a subject of greater interest and a national concern (NAE, 2014). Modern investments and allocation of resources by the public and private sectors are all based on the significance of workers with the STEM skills as well as competencies (Rothwell, 2013). Despite all these, involvement in the STEM labor market by the females has consistently been on the decrease as compared to males (Miller et al 2009).
Numerous research efforts have seemed to comprehend any individual’s interest into a STEM-based career after the seventh grade, with minimal scrutiny given to a person’s encounters with STEM during the early education (Dewitt et al 2011). Other research work has commenced an investigation of the younger individual’s preparation and participation with regard to these pathways. For instance, Tai et al 2010 established that a young student’s interests and aspirations in science are a better prediction of their future enrollment in science as opposed to their counterparts during earlier schooling days. Several other research works established the connection between an individual’s early expectations and their eventual education and career choices in science. Minor research work has been performed that investigates all essential STEM subjects; typically focusing on the student’s expectations as well as interests regarding science or only mathematics.
Methods and Instruments
The relational survey technique was widely employed in this research work as the basic quantitative research methodology, with the participants being obtained by simple random methods on the basis of volunteers. The initial step composed of 172 7th grade students, out of which 140 students undertook part in the survey with 7 not being analyzed due to incomplete filling of the data collection forms. The resulting number of participants was 133 (69 females and 64 males). The science process skills test was utilized as the major data collection tool which showed a 55 accumulation for those students with interest in mathematics, optimum accumulation was experienced in the 10 – 40 averages in technology and engineering fields. It was then observed that career interests for students in science and mathematics are greater as compared to their interests in engineering and mathematics. Another survey technique used was the STEM career interest survey which composed of four factors, each of eleven items contributing to a total of 44 items. The coefficient of reliability was obtained as 0.92. simple linear correlation analysis was also performed for a statistically meaningful relationship.
From the analysis, its vivid that senior and older students in the middle schools have vast knowledge with respect to science and mathematics requirements in the pursuit of STEM-related careers, however, this knowledge and understanding were in general insufficient. It was also observed that students with greater mathematics capabilities were more knowledgeable about STEM career admission requirements. In addition, individuals with greater mathematical interests as well as knowledge about STEM careers were observed to be able to pursue a STEM career. The majority of the students with a higher interest in scientific as well as technical skills were also very likely to prefer a STEM career as opposed to those who gave preference to careers involving concrete, productive as well as practical activities.
Importance of Article
The significance of this article was to obtain a comparison of science process skills with STEM career interests of middle school students. It was further to investigate the nature of the relationship that existed between the two.
Is there a statistically meaningful relationship between STEM career interests and the science process skills of seventh-grade students?
Major Challenges encountered
Several challenges were encountered during the survey the most notable being unwilling students to volunteer towards the research leading to a lower number of samples taken for analysis. Other challenges included unresponsive students from the samples selected and also a failure by some students to return the interview forms submitted to them. Minor challenges as well were experienced during the data analysis but were later resolved.
The outcomes of the above research work revealed that seventh-grade students in middle school had a limited STEM career understanding as well as comprehension in regard to the subject necessities and also to what sort of encounters the careers would cover. In addition, students who had fewer interests in mathematics exhibited a declining interest in the pursuit of STEM-related careers. Thus, the data obtained advocates for the need to provide better access to knowledge and student awareness towards comprehending STEM careers and the structure of the STEM work. When the students are exposed to STEM careers, their interests are improved and higher chances exist of them pursuing the related careers in science, technology, mathematics as well as engineering.
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