Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A descriptive study of high school Latino and Caucasian students' values about math, perceived math achievement and STEM career choice
by Rodriguez Flecha, Samuel, Ph.D., Washington State University, 2012, 199; 3554594
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine high school students' math values, perceived math achievement, and STEM career choice. Participants (N=515) were rural high school students from the U.S. Northwest. Data was collected by administering the “To Do or Not to Do:” STEM pilot survey. Most participants (n=294) were Latinos, followed by Caucasians (n=142). Fifty-three percent of the students rated their math achievement as C or below. Of high math students, 57% were male. Females were 53% of low math students. Caucasians (61%) rated themselves as high in math in a greater proportion than Latinos (39%). Latinos (58%) rated themselves as low in math in a greater proportion than Caucasians (39%).

Math Values play a significant role in students' perceived math achievement. Internal math values (r =.68, R2 =.46, p =.001) influenced perceived math achievement regardless of gender (males: r =.70, R2 =.49, p =.001; females: r =.65, R2 =.43, p =.001), for Latinos (r =.66, R2 =.44, p =.001), and Caucasians (r =.72, R2 =.51, p =.001). External math values (r =.53, R2 =.28, p =.001) influenced perceived math achievement regardless of gender (males: r =.54, R2 =.30, p =.001; females: r =.49, R2 =.24, p =.001), for Latinos (r =.47, R2 =.22, p =.001), and Caucasians (r =.58, R2 =.33, p =.001).

Most high-math students indicated an awareness of being good at math at around 11 years old. Low-math students said that they realized that math was difficult for them at approximately 13 years of age. The influence of parents, teachers, and peers may vary at different academic stages.

Approximately half of the participants said there was not a person who had significantly impacted their career choice; only a minority said their parents and teachers were influencing them to a STEM career. Parents and teachers are the most influential relationships in students' career choice. More exposure to STEM role models and in a variety of professions is needed. Possible strategies to impact students' career choice, future directions and recommendations are provided. In sum, positive experiences in STEM can favorably contribute to students' sense of competence and satisfaction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Beller, Jennifer
Commitee: Beller, Jennifer, Mills, Paulette, Pitre, Paul
School: Washington State University
Department: Educational Psychology
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Educational psychology, Secondary education, Science education
Keywords: Career choice, Math values, Parental influence, STEM, Teacher influence, Underrepresentation
Publication Number: 3554594
ISBN: 978-1-267-94781-9
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