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Want to Get Teens Interested in Math and Science? Target Their Parents

The ongoing discussion of how to retain student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) often revolves around efforts in the classroom. A new study examines the unique role that parents can play in promoting students’ STEM motivation.

University of Wisconsin professor of psychology Judith Harackiewicz, working with Wisconsin colleagues Christopher Rozek and Janet Hyde, and Chris Hulleman of James Madison University, surveyed 181 U.S. high school students and their parents over the students’ 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years of high school. Participants were divided into two groups, a control group and a group that received materials with information about the importance of math and science. The results were published in Psychological Science and suggest that receiving the materials had a noticeable effect on student enrollment in math and science courses in the last two years of high school. The Psychological Science article notes that many math and science classes are not required, especially in the last two years of high school.

“Although some people question whether parents wield any influence, we think of parents as an untapped resource,” said Harackiewicz in the article. “This study shows that it is possible to help parents help their teens make academic choices that will prepare them for the future.”

Their study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Source: Psychological Science

Start Date: 
Friday, July 13, 2012