How to foster students’ motivation in mathematics and science classes and promote students’ STEM career choice. A study in Swiss high schools (2022)

Table of Contents
Article preview International Journal of Educational Research Abstract Introduction Section snippets Motivational issues in math and science classes Research questions Study design and sampling Models Discussion References (61) Contemporary Educational Psychology Journal of School Psychology Learning and Instruction Frauen in MINT-Berufen: Retrospektive Wahrnehmung des mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Unterrichts auf der Sekundarstufe I [Women in STEM professions: retrospective perception of mathematics and science in secondary school education] Zeitschrift für Bildungsforschung Studienpräferenzen von Gymnasiastinnen und Gymnasiasten: Wer entscheidet sich aus welchen Gründen für ein MINT-Studium? [Study choice preferences of seconardy school students: who decides to pursue a STEM degree and for what reasons?] Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Bildungswissenschaften Missing data techniques for structural equation modeling Journal of Abnormal Psychology MINT-Frühjahrsreport 2013 Innovationskraft, Aufstiegschance und demografische Herausforderung [STEM spring report 2013: innovative capacity, opportunity for advancement and demographic challenge] Why don’t young people want to become engineers? Rational reasons for disappointing decisions Journal of Engineering Education The 1991 international assessment of educational progress in mathematics and science: the gender difference perspective Journal of Educational Psychology Gender development Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research Gender inequalities in education Annual Review of Sociology Does the gender of the teacher really matter? Seven-to eight-year olds’ accounts of their intercations with their teachers Educational Studies Women’s underrepresentation in science: sociocultural and biological considerations Psychological Bulletin I like to do it, I’m able, and I know I am: longitudinal couplings between domain-specific achievement, self-concept, and interest Child Development Motivational beliefs, values and goals Annual Review of Psychology Motivation to succeed Where are all the women? Gender differences in participation in physical science and engineering Gender development and gender effects Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: a meta-analysis Psychological Bulletin Why don’t they want a male-dominated job? An investigation of young women who changed their occupational aspirations Educational Research and Evaluation Gottfredson’s theory of circumscription, compromise, and self-creation Self-efficacy in career choice and development Encouraging girls in math and science IES practice guide Unterrichtsqualität und Lehrerprofessionalität. Diagnose Evaluation und Verbesserung des Unterrichts [Teaching quality and teacher professionalism. Diagnosis, evaluation, and improvement of teaching] Koedukation im Physikunterricht. Schlussbericht zuhanden des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung [Coeducation in physics classrooms Final report for the attention of the Swiss National Science Foundation] Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives Structural Equation Modeling The gender similarities hypothesis American Psychologist The Dimensions of occupational gender segregation in industrial countries Sociology Cited by (34) Gender motivational gap and contribution of different teaching approaches to female students’ motivation to learn physics Investigation of STEM fields motivation among female students in science education colleges STEM technology-based model helps create an educational environment for developing students' technical and creative thinking Recommended articles (6) FAQs Videos
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International Journal of Educational Research

Volume 79,

2016

, Pages 31-41

Author links open overlay panelBelindaAeschlimannaPersonEnvelopeWalterHerzogbEnvelopeElenaMakarovacEnvelope

Abstract

Programs aimed at increasing the attractiveness of STEM professions should encompass women as well as men. Based on that premise our study focuses on the research question: How can high school students’ motivation in mathematics, physics, and chemistry classes be increased and what impact does students’ high motivation in math and science have on a career choice in STEM? The study is embedded in the Eccles’ expectancy-value model. Applying structural equation modeling, it provides evidence that fostering students’ motivation has a positive impact on their willingness to choose a STEM study field. Moreover, the results show that classes supporting students’ motivation increase the intrinsic value of math and science among students and the probability of a STEM career choice.

Introduction

Although participation rates of men and women in secondary and tertiary education and their educational success have largely evened out (Rodax & Rodax, 1996) the gender disparities in the preference of study and occupational fields have remained surprisingly stable in most western societies (OECD, 2012; Scott, Crompton, & Lyonette, 2010).1 Women are catching up in demanding occupations in the social and health care sectors, while they continue to avoid male-dominated occupations in the areas of sciences, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) (Jarman, Blackburn, & Racko, 2012; OECD, 2012, Smith, 2011). The persistent gender segregation in career choice according to “so called female- and male-occupations” (Leemann & Keck, 2005, p. 73, translation by authors) leads not only to the reproduction of anachronistic gender stereotypes but also to shortfalls in the recruitment of employees in the sciences and technology sectors. This is an alarming situation in a knowledge society that increasingly depends on technological competencies (e.g. Anger, Demary, Koppel, & Plünnecke, 2013; Sadler, Sonnert, Hazari, & Tai, 2012; Quaiser-Pohl, 2012). The concern is even more serious since young men’s willingness to study STEM subjects (esp. physics, IT, and engineering) has recently been dwindling (Becker, 2010, Smith, 2011, Xie and Achen, 2009). To increase the attractiveness of STEM professions generally, research should no longer be limited to women but include men as well. This especially holds true for research seeking the educational determinants of unequal career choices, because students' interest in school subjects like math and science has great influence on their decision for or against a professional career in a STEM field (cf. e.g. Eccles and Wigfield, 2002, Gottfredson, 2002). Thus, our study focuses on the instructional design of mathematics, physics, and chemistry high school classes that explicitly foster female and male students’ motivation. We assume that an instructional design that takes care of the different motivational needs of male and female students may not only foster the interests of both genders in the respective school subjects, but may also contribute to a reduction of the gender disparity in career choice.

Section snippets

Motivational issues in math and science classes

The underrepresentation of women in science and technical occupations can be explained by a range of factors extending from macro-sociological and economic to evolutionary-biological and neuro-psychological approaches (Blakemore, Berenbaum, & Liben, 2009; Buchmann, DiPrete, & McDaniel, 2008; Ceci, Williams, & Barnett, 2009). All of these approaches have revealed significant determinants of gender segregation in career choice (Halpern et al., 2007). However, for the development of reforms it is

Research questions

The main goal of this study was to analyze the impact of the motivational design of mathematics, physics and chemistry classes in high schools on the choice of a STEM field as a major field of study by students who are close to obtaining their high-school diploma (Matura; university entrance diploma). Based on the theoretical and empirical framework of the study, we expected that math and science classes satisfying the four design criteria described earlier would positively affect learning

Study design and sampling

For the analysis of the research question we used data from a Swiss National Science Foundation funded project (Nr. 4060-129279) on gender-atypical choices in occupations and study fields by young women. A total of 167 high school classes from the German-speaking part of Switzerland participated in the project. By means of an extensive standardized survey, data were collected on math and science lessons and on the intended field of study at university for 3032 male and female students in the

Models

Models of students’ individual characteristics. The model of students’ individual characteristics had an acceptable fit (χ2(46)=290.497; p=0.000; CFI=0.981; TLI=0.973; RMSEA=0.042; SRMRwithin=0.028) for the female students (χ2(46)=223.866; p=0.000; CFI=0.976; TLI=0.966; RMSEA=0.048; SRMRwithin=0.034) as well as for the male students (χ2(46)=192.788; p=0.000; CFI=0.977; TLI=0.966; RMSEA=0.049; SRMRwithin=0.031; see Fig. 1). The factor weights4

Discussion

The starting point of our study was the assumption that a motivational design of math and science classes can affect the attractiveness and accessibility of a STEM career choice. Considering the unchanged low share of women in STEM fields of study as well as the most recently observable lower rates of males choosing a STEM field, intervention measures are needed that can be effective for both sexes. High school education in math and the sciences that needs to satisfy both sexes in a

Belinda Aeschlimann is a Senior Researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), Zollikofen, Switzerland. She studied educational sciences at the University of Bern, Switzerland, where she also received her PhD in Philosophical and Human Sciences in 2014. Her research interests cover science teac process, educational inequalities, gender, transitions into, through and out of education, and VET. Belinda Aeschlimann can be contacted at: //[emailprotected]

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  • Cited by (34)

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    • Teachers’ practices and children's motivation towards science learning in MENA countries: Evidence from Tunisia and UAE

      2020, International Journal of Educational Research

      This article analyzes the students’ motivation towards science learning in two MENA countries, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), based on the PISA data in 2015. We examined the impact of teachers’ practices on children's motivation and on the time they spend learning out-of-schools, using the ordered probit and count data regressions. Our results highlight a positive association between students’ motivation and teachers’ practices in classrooms, like clarifying scientific ideas, tailoring the classroom lessons to students, or providing individual help when a student has difficulties to understand a topic. However, results show clearly that the profile of the UAE and Tunisian education systems are quite contrasted. The main contrast concerns the gendered and the education-level effects.

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    • Mathematical mindsets increase student motivation: Evidence from the EEG

      2019, Trends in Neuroscience and Education

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      Motivation, understood in this way, consists of many parts and evolves over a long time [59,55,17,44,16,13,36,63]. Motivation is not the same in different gender groups [58,65] and special activities, such as providing a reward system, may be used in class to attempt to improve motivation [1]. The neural basis for motivation is based upon the neurotransmitter dopamine, which, when transmitted through the mesolimbic reward pathway acts to regulate motivation and reward responses [42].

      Mathematical mindset theory suggests learner motivation in mathematics may be increased by opening problems using a set of recommended ideas. However, very little evidence supports this theory.

      We explore motivation through self-reports while learners attempt problems formulated according to mindset theory and standard problems. We also explore neural correlates of motivation and felt-affect while participants attempt the problems.

      Notably, we do not tell participants what mindset theory is and instead simply investigate whether mindset problems affect reported motivation levels and neural correlates of motivation in learners.

      We find significant increases in motivation for mindset problems compared to standard problems. We also find significant differences in brain activity in prefrontal EEG asymmetry between problems. This provides some of the first evidence that mathematical mindset theory increases motivation (even when participants are not aware of mindset theory), and that this change is reflected in brain activity of learners attempting mathematical problems.

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    FAQs

    How do you motivate students for math and science education? ›

    One of the most effective methods for motivating students is asking them to justify certain mathematical curiosities. For example, when the sum of specific numbers is divisible by 8, the original number can also be divided by 8. Students must know such quirks before they present them with any challenges.

    What is the best way to motivate students in science? ›

    Motivation can be enhanced by facilitating success, novelty, choice, relevance, variety and collaboration, as well as teacher enthusiasm, and providing praise and encouragement.

    How would you encourage students to participate in STEM? ›

    4 Ways to Encourage Student Interest in STEM
    1. Be Prepared. As we just mentioned, lack of proper training among teachers may have a direct correlation to students' disinterest in STEM. ...
    2. Get Real. ...
    3. Highlight Industry Leaders. ...
    4. Incorporate Online Resources.

    How can you encourage students to pursue science and technology courses? ›

    6 ways to motivate students to love science
    • Improve image of science. Many people perceive science to be something tough and negative. ...
    • Be a positive role model. ...
    • Make it fun. ...
    • Connect it to everyday life. ...
    • Give them opportunities. ...
    • Bring it to life.

    How can motivation help students with their studies? ›

    Motivation is not only important in its own right; it is also an important predictor of learning and achievement. Students who are more motivated to learn persist longer, produce higher quality effort, learn more deeply, and perform better in classes and on standardized tests.

    How can we encourage a child to be interested in learning mathematics? ›

    Here are some tips that you can try in order to motivate your children to have an interest in Math:
    1. Use educational math toys. ...
    2. Play games that require mathematical skills. ...
    3. Explain that Math is a part of everyday life. ...
    4. Increase your child's interest in technology. ...
    5. Explain the importance of Math when looking for a job.

    What are your motivations for pursuing a science career? ›

    scientists said a main motivator for their career path was a lifelong interest in science and desire for intellectual challenge, according to the 2014 survey. Many of these scientists reported an interest and curiosity in science or the natural world starting in early childhood.

    What are the 10 ways to motivate a student? ›

    10 Ways to Motivate Students Outside the Classroom
    • Accentuate the positive. ...
    • Set expectations and consequences. ...
    • Introduce competition. ...
    • Introduce collaboration. ...
    • Connect to their world. ...
    • Plug into technology. ...
    • Get parents involved. ...
    • Get students involved.

    What is the importance of STEM learning in student's life? ›

    It puts major emphasis on student learning through projects, internships, and hands-on experiences. It aims towards building critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity among the students.

    Why do you think a STEM education is important for the students? ›

    Improves cognitive skills

    When engaged in STEM subjects, students can develop and strengthen their cognitive skills and learn the basics of coding and engineering in primary schools. This approach will develop kids' cognitive abilities and aid them in the speed and quality of their problem-solving skills.

    What steps will you take to encourage and foster an environment of collaboration in your STEM classroom? ›

    10 Strategies to Build on Student Collaboration in the Classroom
    • Deliberately select which students will work together. ...
    • Size the groups for maximum effectiveness. ...
    • Teach your students how to listen to one another. ...
    • Set the rules of language and collaboration. ...
    • Make goals and expectations clear.

    How can you encourage students motivation and engagement through the use of technology? ›

    How You Can Use Technology To Motivate Your Students
    1. Motivate Students With Videos. ...
    2. Use Technology In And Out Of Classroom For Teaching. ...
    3. Motivate Students With Independent Research. ...
    4. Motivate Students With Different Apps. ...
    5. Boost Motivation With Various Technological Devices. ...
    6. Use Existing Technological Devices In Classroom.

    How do you increase students interest and motivation to actively explore your subject? ›

    A List Of Simple Ideas To Improve Student Motivation
    1. Give students a sense of control. ...
    2. Be clear about learning objectives. ...
    3. Create a threat-free environment. ...
    4. Change your scenery. ...
    5. Offer varied experiences. ...
    6. Use positive competition. ...
    7. Offer rewards. ...
    8. Give students responsibility.

    How can you encourage students to participate in school activities? ›

    How do I encourage participation?
    1. Foster an ethos of participation. ...
    2. Teach students skills needed to participate. ...
    3. Devise activities that elicit participation. ...
    4. Consider your position in the room. ...
    5. Ask students to assess their own participation. ...
    6. Ensure that everyone's contributions are audible.

    What are the necessary things mathematics teachers should do to encourage students to study and have interest in mathematics? ›

    4 Ways to Increase Student Interest in Mathematics
    • Make It Real. Whenever possible, try to show how the math that the student is learning can be related outside of the classroom. ...
    • Creative Approaches. ...
    • Use Pop Culture. ...
    • Make Math Music Videos!
    4 Apr 2016

    What strategies can be used to promote development of mathematics? ›

    Top 9 math strategies for engaging lessons
    • Explicit instruction. You can't always jump straight into the fun. ...
    • Conceptual understanding. ...
    • Using concepts in Math vocabulary. ...
    • Cooperative learning strategies. ...
    • Meaningful and frequent homework. ...
    • Puzzle pieces math instruction. ...
    • Verbalize math problems. ...
    • Reflection time.
    26 Jul 2021

    What is your motivation in choosing your study? ›

    Researchers believe that your motivation to study can either come from inside you or outside of you. You can be motivated by an internal drive to learn as much possible. Or, you might be motivated to study by an external reward like a good grade, or a great job, or someone promising you a car.

    What factors should students consider when choosing future career? ›

    Factors to consider when choosing a career
    • Interests. The topics that you are interested in and the activities you enjoy doing can be an excellent starting point for choosing a career. ...
    • Talents and skills. ...
    • Ideal lifestyle. ...
    • Values.
    • Personality. ...
    • Financial goals. ...
    • Education and training. ...
    • Make a list of non-negotiables.

    What motivates you to choose this course? ›

    Highlight your strengths

    Include information about your skills and natural talents in your answer. Consider mentioning how your skills align with the subject matter. Focus on your unique strengths that could contribute to your success in the course. Discuss the skills you hope to further develop through the course.

    How do you motivate students who don't want to learn? ›

    10 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated Student
    1. Use visual behavior tracking charts. ...
    2. Allow students to earn a "work free" speech session. ...
    3. Challenge students to beat their own "record" for a certain task. ...
    4. Allow the student to be the expert by teaching a skill to younger students. ...
    5. Make tasks more hands-on.
    5 Apr 2011

    What strategies would you use to motivate unmotivated students? ›

    11 (more) tips to encourage unmotivated students
    • Better student self talk. ...
    • Stay motivated yourself. ...
    • Work to your students' interests. ...
    • Change layout regularly. ...
    • Know what to say. ...
    • Provide a “why” ...
    • Encourage goal-setting. ...
    • Be clear with instructions.
    16 Jan 2020

    What are motivational tools for students? ›

    In the continuation, we will provide a list of the most effective motivational tools that will motivate students to get engaged in the learning process.
    • Padlet. ...
    • Write My Essay. ...
    • Screencast-o-matic. ...
    • PosterMyWall.

    What are the benefits of a career in STEM? ›

    If you choose to pursue a major in a STEM field, you can expect plenty of job availability and continuing job growth, a high salary, diversity in the classroom and workplace, flexibility, job satisfaction, and the opportunity to make an important impact on society.

    What are five benefits of STEM education in schools? ›

    Five benefits of STEM education
    • Tech knowledge. Technology is everywhere nowadays. ...
    • Adaptation. As students apply their developed knowledge to a variety of scenarios, they'll learn to adapt in the classroom and in real-life scenarios.
    • Experimentation. ...
    • Collaboration. ...
    • Critical and independent thinking.
    16 Aug 2022

    What are STEM careers and why are they important? ›

    STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. These four fields share an emphasis on innovation, problem-solving, and critical thinking. And together they make up a popular and fast-growing industry. Most STEM workers use computers and other technology in their day-to-day jobs.

    How STEM education shapes the future? ›

    As workplaces become more automated, capabilities that include creativity and complex problem solving become more critical than manual skills or memorized content. STEM education must prepare our workforce to innovate and work with modern technologies, and also to consider their societal effects.

    How do you create a classroom STEM learning environment? ›

    6 Steps To A STEM-Friendly Classroom
    1. Ready, set up, go! STEM learning often centers on hands–on activities in small groups. ...
    2. Be tech savvy. Technology is important in 21st century learning. ...
    3. Give kids a STEM challenge. Early learners are naturally curious. ...
    4. Think outside the box. ...
    5. Ask “what” not “why” questions. ...
    6. Word up.
    21 Feb 2017

    How do you integrate and implement STEM education in schools? ›

    An easy way to integrate STEM into any subject matter is to have students read a fictional book and design a solution to a problem one of the characters has faced in the story. Another way is to have students read books that utilize the engineering component in STEM.

    How do you engage children in STEM? ›

    Emphasize STEM-Related Skills

    Encourage children to develop these skills by asking them questions and encouraging them to ask their own. Rather than simply giving them an answer to a question, have them do some research themselves. Sparking curiosity sets a great foundation for the development of these attributes.

    How do you engage and motivate students in your learning environment? ›

    Top 5 Strategies for Motivating Students
    1. Promote growth mindset over fixed mindset. ...
    2. Develop meaningful and respectful relationships with your students. ...
    3. Grow a community of learners in your classroom. ...
    4. Establish high expectations and establish clear goals. ...
    5. Be inspirational.
    4 Jun 2018

    How do you keep students motivated and engaged in the classroom? ›

    10 Ways to Keep Students Engaged in 2022
    1. Start with a warm-up.
    2. See smartphones and tech as tools.
    3. Regularly test students.
    4. Use self-paced work.
    5. Brainstorming.
    6. Arrange group discussions.
    7. Run reflections.
    8. Make use of “dead time”
    13 Dec 2021

    How do you encourage students to pursue stems? ›

    With a new perspective and a bit of encouragement, they can chase bigger dreams that result in a fulfilling career.
    1. Discuss Their Opportunities. ...
    2. Assign Research on Role Models. ...
    3. Review Potential Colleges or Programs. ...
    4. Connect Them With Financial Resources. ...
    5. Paint Their Futures. ...
    6. Remind Them of Resources.
    8 Nov 2021

    How do you motivate students in math? ›

    5 Ways to Motivate Students to Learn Math Effectively
    1. Transformational Teaching. Teaching has the potential to transform the lives of students as they look for opportunities for growth. ...
    2. Engage and Encourage. ...
    3. Acknowledge and Be Aware. ...
    4. Collaborate and Connect. ...
    5. Hold Students Accountable for Their Success.
    4 Mar 2022

    What are some possible ways for a teacher to motivate students? ›

    Positive Outcomes

    Give verbal praise for successful progress or accomplishment. Give personal attention to students. Provide informative, helpful feedback when it is immediately useful. Provide motivating feedback (praise) immediately following task performance.

    How teachers can motivate their students in the classroom? ›

    Encourage Students

    Students look to teachers for approval and positive reinforcement, and are more likely to be enthusiastic about learning if they feel their work is recognized and valued. You should encourage open communication and free thinking with your students to make them feel important. Be enthusiastic.

    What can teachers do to encourage the development of math skills? ›

    What the Teachers Recommend
    • Build confidence. ...
    • Encourage questioning and make space for curiosity. ...
    • Emphasize conceptual understanding over procedure. ...
    • Provide authentic problems that increase students' drive to engage with math. ...
    • Share positive attitudes about math.
    6 Jul 2018

    How do you motivate students to participate in school activities? ›

    How do I encourage participation?
    1. Foster an ethos of participation. ...
    2. Teach students skills needed to participate. ...
    3. Devise activities that elicit participation. ...
    4. Consider your position in the room. ...
    5. Ask students to assess their own participation. ...
    6. Ensure that everyone's contributions are audible.

    What motivates students to be successful? ›

    Intrinsic motivation is the desire to accomplish a task for the sake of curiosity, interest, pursuing mastery, developing skills, expanding experience, gaining knowledge, and so on. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite: a person works on a task primarily in order to gain an external reward or avoid a punishment.

    How do you motivate students to learn hard? ›

    Set Clear Goals

    In order to improve your motivation to study, your goals have to be a little closer to home. In fact, setting clear academic goals has been scientifically linked to higher grade point averages than students who set vague goals, like, “I'll just do the best I can.”

    What is the best way to motivate students in the classroom? ›

    Top 5 Strategies for Motivating Students
    1. Promote growth mindset over fixed mindset. ...
    2. Develop meaningful and respectful relationships with your students. ...
    3. Grow a community of learners in your classroom. ...
    4. Establish high expectations and establish clear goals. ...
    5. Be inspirational.
    4 Jun 2018

    How do you motivate unmotivated high school students? ›

    11 (more) tips to encourage unmotivated students
    1. Better student self talk. ...
    2. Stay motivated yourself. ...
    3. Work to your students' interests. ...
    4. Change layout regularly. ...
    5. Know what to say. ...
    6. Provide a “why” ...
    7. Encourage goal-setting. ...
    8. Be clear with instructions.
    16 Jan 2020

    What do effective teachers of mathematics do to help their students learn? ›

    Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions. Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving.

    Videos

    1. UK Arts & Sciences YouTube Live Q&A: Natural Sciences & Mathematics
    (University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences)
    2. UCAT Open Day | UniAdmissions
    (UniAdmissions)
    3. Meet Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Prof. Kwabena Agyapong-Kodua & Bertrand Jandoh | STEM Social Ghana
    (BeScience STEM)
    4. Go Behind the Scenes on STEM
    (Center for Excellence in Education)
    5. Competitive UCAS applications
    (Futures at Stowe School)
    6. MIT Speaker Series Featuring Two Hispanic Woman in Computer Science
    (SciTeens)

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