Predicting STEM Career Choice from Computational Indicators of Student Engagement within Middle School Mathematics Classes

Predicting STEM Career Choice from Computational Indicators of Student Engagement within Middle School Mathematics Classes


Approximately 1,000 students who previously used ASSISTments software for middle school mathematics in urban and suburban schools are tracked post high-school, to study how disengagement in middle school influences eventual choice of STEM careers.


This study by Worcester Polytechnic Institute will ascertain how well "disengagement" of students in mathematics can be determined from math learning software and how well it predicts later outcomes of STEM learning and career advancement. The study will use with metrics automatically extracted from a computer-based math learning tool in middle school to predict STEM workforce participation after high school. This research study will track a randomly selected sample of 1000 students who graduate from high school in 2010-2012 into college using surveys, online surveys, and on-line communities. By integrating these data with the information on when they were in middle school and were using the ASSISTment system the project can create an 8 year long longitudinal research project. They will follow the career choices of both students who go to college, and students who seek jobs instead of immediately attending college. The project will use educational data mining methods to categorize student behavior through analysis of log files recorded while students were using educational software. The investigators expect to measure disengagement and thus how student's motivation, goals, and self-efficacy towards STEM content are realized in practice with self-reports of student attitudes toward STEM careers and motivation to study science and mathematics. The researchers intend to determine whether students who had high levels of disengagement while in school, as shown by their use of computers in classes, is correlated with later life career choices, work behavior and success. This study will result in published articles in psychological journals that are expected to add a significant step in the knowledge of how student engagement during formal school years is associated with motivations and behavior to study science and enter careers that are demanding of thought and understanding of science.

Read about our ITEST project discussed in Scientific American August 2014. This could help give an early warning system to schools about who is likely to be losing interest in STEM or who is at danger of not going to college.


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2011 - 2016



Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA
Columbia University New York, NY

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