Evidence that parental and caregiver support matters in their children’s STEM interest
Most people would agree with the assumption that parental and/or caregiver support greatly influences their children’s interest and attitudes towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Today, however, our Data Scientist, David Meier, provides us with some evidence that this is more than a hopeful assumption by sharing results from two of our projects.
Analyses of current data from our STEM 360 project reveal a significant and positive relationship between children’s perceived parental support with schoolwork and their own interest in science, technology, and math. Students were asked to rate their level of agreement to the questions, “My parents/guardians help me with my homework” and “My parents/guardians talk to me about my grades.” These ratings were then averaged and their relationship to other variables analyzed. Utilizing a regression model, we found that for every “unit” of increase in perceived parental support, we could predict a corresponding increase of .27 units in a student’s science interest rating, an increase of .13 units in their technology interest rating, and an increase of .23 units in their math interest rating.
Additionally, in analyzing data from our Camp Invention project, we found a significant and positive relationship between children’s perceived caregiver attitudes towards science and engineering and their science self-concept, science relevance, and science interest ratings. Students were asked to rate their level of agreement to the questions, “My parents want me to become a scientist or engineer when I grow up,” “My parents encourage me to do things science or engineering related,” “My parents expect me to do well in school, especially in science,” and “My parents are interested in science and engineering.” These ratings were then averaged and their relationship to other variables analyzed. Science self-concept was measured with student’s agreement with statements such as, “I know quite a bit about science and engineering.” Science relevance with statements such as, “Science and engineering will be useful in my future” and “Science and engineering help me understand the world around me.” Utilizing a regression model, we found that for every unit of increase in perceived parental attitudes towards science and engineering, we could predict a corresponding increase of .25 units in a student’s science self-concept rating, an increase of .44 units in their science relevance rating, and an increase of .24 units in their science interest rating.
While the regression models we ran don’t prove direct causation, their statistically significant predictive quality provides us evidence that there definitely is a positive relationship between perceived parental/caregiver support and STEM interest and children’s STEM-related variables. In short – if you have been wondering if all of the additional time and effort you’ve been making prior to and during the past pandemic year has made an impact on the child(ren) in your life, you can rest assured that it will likely have a positive and long term impact.
Photo Credit: Kenny Krosky
Posted Aug 5, 2021