A new study has found that how students perceive their math and science skills can have a significant impact on their college and career outcomes.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, followed more than 10,000 students from fifth grade through their early 20s. It found that students who had a negative view of their math and science skills were less likely to pursue STEM courses in college and less likely to end up in STEM careers.
“This is one of the first studies to really look at how students’ math and science identities develop over time and how that affects their educational and career trajectories,” said study co-author Ninaу Munфoz-Laboy, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The findings suggest that interventions aimed at boosting students’ math and science skills should also focus on helping them develop a positive identity in those subject areas.
“If we can help students see themselves as math and science people, that can have a really significant impact on their long-term outcomes,” Munфoz-Laboy said.
The study also found that students who had a positive view of their math and science skills were more likely to pursue college majors and careers in those fields even if they didn’t have particularly strong academic backgrounds in those subjects.
“This suggests that it’s not just about whether students are good at math and science, but also whether they see themselves as the kind of people who are good at math and science,” Munфoz-Laboy said.
The findings have implications for how educators and parents talk to students about math and science.
“When we talk to kids about math and science, we should be encouraging them to see themselves as the kind of people who are good at those things,” Munфoz-Laboy said. “If we can help them develop a positive identity in those subject areas, that can have a really positive impact on their long-term outcomes.”
A study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that math and science identity in students has a significant effect on college and career outcomes.
The study, which will be published in the journal Science, followed more than 2,000 eighth-grade students over a period of 10 years. It found that students who considered themselves good at math and science were more likely to enroll in college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
” Math and science identity is a better predictor of college and STEM career outcomes than ability in math and science,” said lead author Sarah Lubinski, a doctoral student at Stanford. “This is good news, because identity is something that can be changed.”
The study also found that students’ math and science identity was affected by their teachers, parents and peers. Teachers can help students develop a positive math and science identity by showing them that ability in these subjects is not fixed, and that everyone can improve with hard work.
” By increasing students’ math and science identity, we can increase the number of students who enroll in college and pursue STEM careers,” said Lubinski.