Project Profile

Promoting Aspirations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through Youth and Family Engagement


A primary focus of this project at Arizona State University is to broaden participation of refugee communities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT). Since 1975, 3.3 million refugees have been admitted to the United States. Arizona State University, in partnership with three Maricopa County community colleges, and five ethnic community-based organizations comprised of former refugees (Burundians, Congolese, Iraqis, Somalis, and Syrians), will engage refugee students and their parents in innovative project experiences and activities. The project will engage 200 youth in grades 7-12 and their parents in project activities that will include (a) families participating in an eight-session college knowledge program, (b) youth participating in e-mentoring with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals; (c) families visiting college campuses, and (d) youth creating digital stories that reflect their STEM aspirations. The conceptual framework and digital storytelling reinforce the belief that STEM/ICT interests and identity can be enhanced when students are embraced and empowered by their native cultural stories. The project will yield a series of role model videos that highlight the stories of former refugees who are now working as STEM professionals in the United States. This will support the inclusion of students with refugee backgrounds into STEM career pathways. The goal of the project is to improve STEM/ICT career aspirations among students of refugee backgrounds and to improve STEM/ICT familial career aspirations among refugee parents. The objectives of the project are to (a) develop strong levels of college social and STEM capital; (b) improve self-efficacy as it relates to participating in STEM career path activities; (c) improve STEM identity, interest, and aspirations; and (d) improve value and expectations for success associated with STEM careers. Project effects will be evaluated via three research branches: (1) understanding project effects on Possible Selves and Social Cognitive Career Theory variables, (2) identifying interactions of culture and gender with STEM, and (3) examining alignment of personal narratives and cultural master narratives regarding what it means to become, and how to become, a STEM professional in the United States.  The project uses a mixed research design involving surveys, interviews, photo elicitation, and critical discourse analysis. This project will align with the societal goals of promoting STEM and developing a STEM-ready workforce. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.



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Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2021 - 2024
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Project Work State
Project Status