Collaborative Research: How Science Fieldwork Experiences Impact Undergraduate Students' STEM Academic and Career Decisions
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The representation of women in the earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences workforce is significantly lower than that of female undergraduate students majoring in these disciplines. This underrepresentation limits the available role models for female undergraduate and graduate students, and female scientists working in industry. It is critical to understand the factors that may influence why male or female undergraduate students pursue the STEM workforce or not. Advancing a diverse and technically competent STEM workforce is critical to the progress of science and the health, prosperity and welfare of our nation.This project team is investigating the contextual components of social cognitive career theory to explore how male and female undergraduate geology students successfully navigate scientific fieldwork experiences as they pursue academic and career paths. More specifically, knowledge will be advanced about how social, cultural, educational, and identity variables interact with each other during and after fieldwork to affect transitions from undergraduate education to graduate education or industry employment. Mixed methods research will include the collection and analysis of survey and interview data. Results will be examined to advance knowledge about how and why STEM undergraduates who do field work pursue STEM careers, and to inform future educational research on social cognitive career theory as it applies to STEM disciplines.This research is supported by NSF''s EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. The program supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest intervention and innovations to address persistent challenges in STEM interest, education, learning, and participation.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.