Doing science makes a difference: Engaging students in science practices increases science identity, motivation, and career interest over time

Thursday, December 14th


PSB 240

Lisa Hunter Christine Starr

 This presentation reports on the first findings from a study on how pedagogy affects student experiences linked to persistence in introductory science courses at UCSC, initiated through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). A survey was developed to gauge students’ experience and measure changes in factors linked to STEM persistence and career aspirations. In the first phase of the study, students in introductory biology took the survey at the beginning and end of the course. The biology courses in the study included the “regular” large lecture format, and a set of “active” biology courses that had a curricular focus on science practices (e.g. using evidence in a scientific explanation). Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to identify relationships between students’ reported experience in courses and changes in persistence constructs. Findings indicated that students who reported “doing science” (i.e. performed science practices) within a course were more likely to report feeling recognized as scientists, which predicted increases in STEM motivation, identity, career aspirations, and course grades, especially for students from underrepresented minority groups.

About Lisa: Lisa Hunter is the Director of ISEE, which she started when she was the Education Director at the National Science Foundation Center for Adaptive Optics. She has worked in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce development for twenty years, preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers with the skills to be successful, and enabling the current workforce to mentor and teach inclusively and effectively. Lisa’s work crosses the boundaries of teaching and mentoring practice, evaluation, assessment, and research. Of particular relevance to this presentation her work on professional development that emphasizes how to teach students to do science and engineering, which Lisa and her team have been leading since 2001.

About Christine: Christine is attending the developmental psychology doctoral program to pursue her interest in women and girls' motivation in STEM as well as outcome, risk, and protective factors of early sexualization and objectification of girls. In the past she has worked on several projects related to PTSD, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and the military at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University.