Professors Sandra Simpkins & Jacquelynne Eccles Awarded NSF Grant to Study Family Support of Math & Science for Diverse High School Students
Professors Sandra Simpkins and Jacquelynne Eccles have been awarded a new National Science Foundation grant: "Family Support of Math and Science: Examining an Untapped Source of Resilience for Diverse High School Students." The $979K grant will start October 1 and end September 30, 2021.
High school is a critical turning point in many students' STEM coursework and career trajectories. For example, students' math motivation peaks in high school yet 45% of 10th graders who express interest in pursuing a STEM career lose that interest by the end of high school. Adolescents with minimal math and science high school coursework are extremely unlikely to either try or be able to enter STEM college majors and careers. To change these trends, it is necessary to understand how best to support high school students in math and science. Moreover, to increase the diversity of the nation's STEM workforce, it is important to understand whether motivational processes work differently for youth who reside at the intersections of demographic characteristics such as gender, race and social class. The current body of research on social factors that contribute to high school students' STEM motivation is largely based on studies of Caucasian families.
Drawing from expectancy-value motivational theory, social positioning theories and feminist intersectionality theory, this project has five aims that center around understanding the role that parents play in students' STEM trajectories. Family support matters because it has been recognized as an important factor in maintaining student interest. To achieve its aims, the project team will analyze four waves of data from the High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS). The HSLS includes a nationally representative sample of 21,444 9th graders. It offers a large, rich sample to study intersectionality as defined by students' simultaneous status on multiple demographic indicators. The data includes longitudinal multi-reporter information on student motivation, outcomes, and parent support in math and science. Students' trajectories will be traced at 9th grade, 11th grade, the fall immediately after high school graduation, and 3 years after high school. The role of other socializing factors such as school and peer experiences are also examined.