An important component to investigating STEM persistence: the development and validation of the science identity (SciID) scale.
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BACKGROUND: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) influence almost every aspect of our daily lives. However, despite the high demand for STEM occupational talent, the STEM pipeline continues leaking, with less than one-sixth of high school students pursuing STEM majors and only 50% of entering STEM college majors matriculating into STEM fields. Science identity has been identified as the most powerful predictor of high school students pursuing an undergraduate STEM major as reported by Chang (Machine learning approach to predicting STEM college major choice, American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, 2020). Though the construct is gaining lots of attention, it remains largely ill-defined, not operationalized at the high school level, and not based upon traditional identity theory. The purpose of this study was to develop a valid and reliable instrument that measures high school students' science identity, the Science Identity (SciID) Scale. RESULTS: Subject experts and a small group of high school students provided content validation for the proposed scale. Exploratory factor analysis revealed an optimal two-factor solution, reflecting the traditional two-dimensions of identity theory: Exploration and Commitment. Cronbach's alpha revealed good internal consistency for both factors. Finally, structural equation modeling confirmed the convergent validity of the instrument with the external variables of science achievement and science career interest. Furthermore, the divergent validity between science identity and science self-concept was also confirmed. CONCLUSIONS: Initial results indicate that the SciID Scale is a valid and reliable instrument that accurately measures a high school student's standing on this construct. The soundness of this instrument will enable policy makers and practitioners to design more effective intervention programs aimed at cultivating high school students' science identity.