Measuring Student Career Interest within the Context of Technology-Enhanced STEM Projects: A Cross-Project Comparison Study Based on the Career Interest Questionnaire
This article describes Energy for ME and Going Green! Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World, two Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education programs with the common goal of improving students’ attitudes about scientific careers. The authors represent two project teams, each with funding from the National Science Foundation’s ITEST program. Using different approaches and technology, both projects challenged students to use electricity monitoring system data to create action plans for conserving energy in their homes and communities. The impact of each project on students’ career interests was assessed via a multi-method evaluation that included the Career Interest Questionnaire (CIQ), a measure that was validated within the context of ITEST projects and has since become one of the instruments used most commonly across the ITEST community. This article explores the extent to which the CIQ can be used to document the effects of technology-enhanced STEM educational experiences on students’ career attitudes and intentions in different environments. The results indicate that the CIQ, and the Intent subscale in particular, served as significant predictors of students’ self-reported STEM career aspirations across project context. Results from each project also demonstrated content gains by students and demonstrated the impact of project participation and gender on student outcomes. The authors conclude that the CIQ is a useful tool for providing empirical evidence to document the impact of technology-enhanced science education programs, particularly with regard to Intent to purse a STEM career. The need for additional cross-project comparison studies is also discussed.