Project Title

The STEM Student’s Journey : A Comparative Analysis of Diversity and Perceptions in the STEM Fields at Kennesaw State University

Academic department under which the project should be listed

Other

Faculty Sponsor Name

Amy Buddie

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Imagine what a “stereotypical scientist” looks like. Most people would probably imagine a man with frizzy white hair wildly going through his lab mixing colorful chemicals. Now imagine what a “stereotypical engineer” or “stereotypical mathematician” looks like. For most people, it is significantly harder to paint an image of these stereotypes. However, as with most stereotypes, these depictions tend to be far from the truth; most labs tend to look and function differently than how the media portrays them. According to the United States Census Bureau (2019), only 14% of college graduates who majored in science and engineering actually pursued a career in the STEM field. The purpose of this research is to examine the extent to which these preconceptions influence peoples’ involvement in the STEM field. This research intends to observe how STEM undergraduates’ perceptions of the STEM field vary between the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes. This research will utilize a survey geared towards undergraduate students pursuing a degree in the STEM field at Kennesaw State University. The survey questions address stereotypes, diversity, and education within the STEM field. The perceptions of students will be assessed on three metrics; undergraduates’ perceptions of their own field, perceptions of other fields, and perceptions of the STEM field by society. We expect to find that undergraduate students who have taken higher-level courses related to their major will have more nuanced views of the STEM fields. Additionally, we predict that undergraduates will hold more positive perceptions of the science field than of the engineering or mathematics fields. This study not only expands upon prior research done on the subject, but also provides insight into why students’ perceptions change throughout their undergraduate years.

Disciplines

Education

Project Type

Poster

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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The STEM Student’s Journey : A Comparative Analysis of Diversity and Perceptions in the STEM Fields at Kennesaw State University

Imagine what a “stereotypical scientist” looks like. Most people would probably imagine a man with frizzy white hair wildly going through his lab mixing colorful chemicals. Now imagine what a “stereotypical engineer” or “stereotypical mathematician” looks like. For most people, it is significantly harder to paint an image of these stereotypes. However, as with most stereotypes, these depictions tend to be far from the truth; most labs tend to look and function differently than how the media portrays them. According to the United States Census Bureau (2019), only 14% of college graduates who majored in science and engineering actually pursued a career in the STEM field. The purpose of this research is to examine the extent to which these preconceptions influence peoples’ involvement in the STEM field. This research intends to observe how STEM undergraduates’ perceptions of the STEM field vary between the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes. This research will utilize a survey geared towards undergraduate students pursuing a degree in the STEM field at Kennesaw State University. The survey questions address stereotypes, diversity, and education within the STEM field. The perceptions of students will be assessed on three metrics; undergraduates’ perceptions of their own field, perceptions of other fields, and perceptions of the STEM field by society. We expect to find that undergraduate students who have taken higher-level courses related to their major will have more nuanced views of the STEM fields. Additionally, we predict that undergraduates will hold more positive perceptions of the science field than of the engineering or mathematics fields. This study not only expands upon prior research done on the subject, but also provides insight into why students’ perceptions change throughout their undergraduate years.

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