Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

STEM Interest Assessment of Adolescents: Construct Validity
by Kline, Brian Thomas, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2020, 132; 28089800
Abstract (Summary)

Recently, the need to increase the pursuit of training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has been highlighted. To bolster the pursuit of STEM training, researchers have taken a person-environment fit approach that emphasizes enhancing the fit between the characteristics of individuals and the demands of vocational environments. Vocational interests in STEM are a person-level factor shown to play a role in pursuit of STEM careers. STEM interest assessment has been limited by lack of construct validity of single-item measures, structural validity, face validity, content validity, discriminant validity, and convergent validity. Furthermore, despite that decisions about whether to pursue STEM are believed to be made in youth, research about the influence of individual STEM interests on the pursuit of STEM training has tended to study young adults. Therefore, there is a need for a brief, reliable, and valid measure of STEM interests that is at the appropriate reading level for use with younger individuals. The STEM Career Interest Test (SCIT), a brief, multi-item measure of STEM interests, has been shown to have good support for reliability and validity based on the results of factor and correlation analyses with a college sample.

The present study examined the reliability and validity of, the SCIT, in samples of eighth (n = 316) and ninth (n = 155) grade students. Good internal consistency was found in both samples, Cronbach’s = .89 and .92. Support was found for the structural validity of the SCIT in both samples. Results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) indicate that all indices of fit examined (CFI, RMSEA, SRMR, and Chi-Square) were in the range of acceptable to good fit with a one-factor model of the SCIT after the errors of items 5 and 6 were allowed to correlate. Further, results offer evidence of good external validity in both samples as operationalized as correlations that were generally found to be of the predicted magnitude and in the predicted direction with the six categories of vocational interest domains in Holland’s (1997) theory: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional (RIASEC) as well as with plans to pursue STEM (or not).

Specifically, results found support for external validity in large positive associations of the SCIT with investigative and realistic vocational interests (convergent validity), large positive associations of the SCIT with single-item measures of plans to pursue STEM in high school, college, and career (concurrent validity), and small or no association of the SCIT with artistic interest or plans not to pursue STEM (discriminant validity). These results were all directly in line with hypotheses. Mixed support for hypotheses was found in that associations between the SCIT and enterprising and conventional vocational interests tended to be much larger than expected, and the association between SCIT and social interest tended to be somewhat larger than expected.

Results of CFA, reliability analyses, and correlation analyses generally provide support for the structural, convergent, discriminant, and concurrent validity of the SCIT in both eighth and ninth grade samples. This study suggests that the SCIT is appropriate for the use with adolescents. Alternative explanations for larger-than-expected associations with enterprising, conventional, and social interests are discussed. In addition, future research should aim to implement multi-item scales to assess external validity, measure test-retest reliability and sensitivity to change, and evaluate validity among individuals who are English language learners (ELL). SCIT appears to be a promising measure for studying educational, research, and counseling interventions designed to foster STEM interest and pursuit.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sodano, Sandro M.
Commitee: Guyker, Wendy M., Meier, Scott T., Shanahan, Michele E.
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Counseling, School and Educational Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 82/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Psychology, Educational psychology
Keywords: STEM interest, Adolescents
Publication Number: 28089800
ISBN: 9798672196862
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