Journal of Research in STEM Education <p>Innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) play an essential role in creating new economies, increasing competition in the global market, and improving the quality of life. Given the importance of STEM in our lives, nation’s economies and the environment we live in, there has been an increasing emphasis on teaching STEM under the umbrella of STEM in recent years. STEM stands for the blended and problem-based learning environment that integrates all four subjects in an interdisciplinary fashion.</p> <p>While the idea of STEM is relatively new, STEM programs are flourishing in schools in every corner of the world. The rapid adoption of the STEM idea calls for new understandings about how to reframe the curriculum?, how do teachers develop knowledge/expertise to implement the interdisciplinary curriculum?, and how do students most effectively learn in a blended and interdisciplinary learning environment?. The adoption and implementation of STEM programs also bring new responsibilities for STEM education research community. We should&nbsp;develop new research approaches&nbsp;to understand student learning and teacher practice in these new contexts. We should&nbsp;also establish new interdisciplinary communities to discuss issues and opportunities associated with adoption and implementation of STEM education programs. We must also establish publication venues for these discussions. As a response to this emerging need, we established The Journal of Research in STEM Education (J-STEM).</p> <p>J-STEM is an international peer-reviewed open access journal. It publishes and communicates original research findings to inform researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in an effort to improve the quality and accessibility of STEM education. J-STEM assigns highest priority to reviewing original manuscripts that use rigorous quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods studies on topics related to STEM education in educational settings. Such contexts may include K-12, higher education, and informal education contexts such as museums. We also welcome analytical papers that evaluate important research issues related to any field of STEM education.</p> i-STEM en-US Journal of Research in STEM Education 2149-8504 Beyond the Leaky Pipeline: Developmental Pathways that Lead College Students to Join or Return to STEM Majors <p>STEM education researchers often invoke the “Leaky Pipeline” metaphor (National Research Council, 1986) when explaining why so many students do not persist in STEM. This metaphor envisions the supply of potential workers as a pipeline. Students “drip out” (leave STEM) of the pipeline from preschool through college. However, this metaphor does not adequately reflect the fluidity and multi-directionality of students’ decisions about their college majors. For example, some students join STEM after leaving another (non-STEM) major, and others add STEM as a second major. Increasing the number of students who join STEM could contribute substantially to addressing the STEM shortage. We used the term STEM joiners to refer to these students. We conducted a qualitative study of 22 college STEM joiners to explore the developmental trajectories and motivations of these STEM joiners. Data was collected through semi-structured clinical interviews with each individual and was analyzed by an iterative, grounded coding processes to derive themes and categories. We found that the decision to join STEM after declaring another major was often motivated by a desire to return to original interests in STEM. Early college STEM courses, supportive STEM environments, and mentoring experiences were critical in students’ joining decisions. The results suggest ways in which STEM joining could be increased, which could lead to an increase in the number of STEM majors.</p> Jue Wu David Uttal Copyright (c) 2020 Jue Wu, David Uttal 2020-12-31 2020-12-31 6 2 64 90 10.51355/jstem.2020.80 Excessive Mentoring? An Apprenticeship Model on a Robotics Team <p>Participation on a robotics team affords students the opportunity to learn science and engineering skills in a competition-based environment. Mentors on these robotics teams play important roles in helping students acquire these skills. This study used an apprenticeship learning theory to examine how mentors on one high school robotics team contributed to students attaining the knowledge associated with designing and building a robot for competition. How active of a role did mentors play on their competition-based robotics team? How did mentors and students together handle the challenges they faced? The mentor-student interactions detailed in the research revealed an apprenticeship model where mentors played leadership roles reluctant to move beyond modeling tasks to students. The mentors’ roles bring into question if they were granting their students the full opportunities to develop skills associated with working on a robot. Despite these developmental concerns, the students on the team gradually took up simple tasks working side-by-side mentors, saw expert engineers model professional habits, and expressed being inspired while contributing to a winning team.</p> Nathan R. Dolenc Robert H. Tai Douglas Williams Copyright (c) 2020 Nathan Dolenc, Robert H. Tai, Douglas Williams 2020-12-31 2020-12-31 6 2 91 114 10.51355/jstem.2020.81 Gender and the STEM Fields in Education- and Career-Related Discussions between Finnish Parents and their Adolescent Children <p class="MLNormal" style="text-indent: 0cm;"><span lang="EN-US">Occupational gender segregation in Finland is high and persistent in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Previous research has concluded that, rather than differences in aptitude, gendered educational and vocational choices originate from more complex system of attitudes, self-concepts, motivations and both direct and indirect social influences, all of which shape young people’s future goals. In the sphere of social influences on career choice, parents play a special role in adolescents’ education and career exploration. This study explores two interrelated areas: firstly, the ideas expressed by Finnish adolescent children’s parents about the role of gender in education and career choices, and secondly, parent-child discussions about such ideas, especially with regard to STEM career pathways. The research data (N=103) was collected by means of an online survey. Almost half of the parents reported having had discussions about STEM careers with their children. Problematically, many parents considered that they had too little information about these careers. Our results indicate that mothers are more aware of the societal and individual consequences of occupational gender segregation than fathers are. The results also suggest that parents should be provided with up-to-date information on STEM careers and on the consequences of occupational gender segregation in order to enhance parents’ readiness to support their children in their future exploration of education and careers. Greater collaboration between homes, career counseling, teachers and relevant organizations concerned with the economic world, working life and entrepreneurship would be beneficial in promoting awareness of these aspects during adolescents’ career development.</span></p> Kirsi Ikonen Anni Hirvonen Risto Leinonen Mikko H. P. Kesonen Jesse Hietala Pekka Hirvonen Mervi Asikainen Copyright (c) 2020 Kirsi Ikonen, Anni Hirvonen, Risto Leinonen, Mervi A. Asikainen, Pekka E. Hirvonen 2020-12-31 2020-12-31 6 2 115 137 10.51355/jstem.2020.93 Perceived Impact of COVID-19 and Other Factors on STEM Students’ Career Development <p>In early 2020, colleges shifted abruptly from traditional in-person to remote distant instruction due to COVID-19 potentially exacerbating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students’ recruitment and retention. This preliminary study using survey methodology was conducted with STEM students at a small (700 students) private college to examine questions related to students’ perceptions of natural science careers, career decision-making factors, barriers influencing students’ career path, including effects of COVID-19 on career goals, mental health, and perceived quality of instruction. A Qualtrics® survey was sent to 180 STEM students, from which we received 53 responses (29.4% response rate). Consistent with other studies, family was one of the most important factors supporting their career path. Students had a relatively upbeat career outlook despite being in the middle of a global pandemic and were only moderately worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their future career. Despite these relatively positive outcomes, the abrupt switch to online instruction was viewed unfavorably by most respondents, who valued the hands-on learning experiences obtained with traditional in-person instruction. It is possible that respondents’ views of online instruction may improve over time as instructors become more adept at using new instructional tools. Future research should evaluate this aspect and whether students’ career goals change across time as the pandemic unfolds.</p> Marcie Desrochers Deborah Naybor Daniel Kelting Copyright (c) 2020 Marcie Desrochers, Deborah Naybor, Daniel Kelting 2020-12-31 2020-12-31 6 2 138 157 10.51355/jstem.2020.91