Edwardsville, Ill. (PRWEB) June 28, 2012
A study released today by the Illinois Education Research Council at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville found that women, African American students and those from low-income families expressed more confidence in their choice of college major, overall and in select science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
An analysis of 75,698 responses from juniors from the Illinois High School Class of 2003 showed significant differences reflected by key demographics and type of planned major. According to the report, confidence in major was higher among women than men; among African American students compared with other racial and ethnic backgrounds; and among students whose family income was less than $30,000 per year.
Additional significant findings of the report included:
The study was prepared by Casey E. George-Jackson, an Institute of Education Sciences postdoctoral research fellow in mathematics education and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Eric Lichtenberger, associate director for research for the IERC and an assistant research professor at SIUE.
“This knowledge could assist policymakers in their efforts to improve recruitment of students from underrepresented groups into the STEM fields,” Lichtenberger said.
“Although women, students of color and low-income students are underrepresented in many STEM fields, a high proportion of underrepresented students who plan to major in STEM were very sure of their educational plans,” Lichtenberger said. He added that the report shows the level of education required for particular occupations appeared to increase all students’ confidence in certain types of majors.
The study poses the following questions, which researchers plan to investigate in future IERC reports:
Lichtenberger said that, from a current policy standpoint, the study can be a useful tool for lawmakers as the new STEM learning exchange program is implemented in the state.
“Learning exchanges are an integral part of Illinois’ Race to the Top grant and are designed to support the local development of P-20 STEM programs that connect a student’s career and educational interests,” the report stated.
For more information, contact Lichtenberger, the author of the report, (618) 650-2840 or (866) 799-4372. A complete report is available at ierc.siue.edu.