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Growing concern exists in the United States that there is an insufficient number of students, teachers, and practitioners in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A related concern is that the large majority of secondary school students in the U.S. fail to reach proficiency standards in math and science.

Nationally, this decline in STEM-trained students, teachers, and professionals has been attributed to many causes, including limited STEM focus in teacher preparation, lack of distinct STEM pedagogy, inadequate facilities, peer pressure, and parental attitudes, among other causes. However, little research exists that focuses on the complex reasons for the level of STEM interest and achievement specifically in Idaho.


Contact Us

Melinda Hamilton
Project Co-Director
Director of STEM Initiatives
College of Education
University of Idaho
(208) 885-7803

Corinne Mantle-Bromley, Ph.D.
Project Co-Director
Dean and Professor
College of Education
University of Idaho
(208) 885-6773

Objectives & Methods

The Micron STEM Education Research Initiative will collect and analyze data on the needs, attitudes, and contextual variables associated with student interest and performance in STEM education in Idaho. The goal in analysis is to identify community-specific opportunities and barriers to support student interest and success in STEM.

Research Objectives

  • Identify student, parental, community, and teacher attitudes about STEM and perceptions of barriers to and facilitators of student STEM achievement.
  • Identify student, parental, and community perceptions regarding the relevancy of STEM education to higher education and employment.
  • Examine the influence of families, teachers, peers, and community members in shaping students’ academic interests and pursuits.
  • Examine the degree to which STEM education feels relevant and accessible to Idaho students.
  • Identify parental, teacher, and community strategies to improve student STEM participation and achievement in Idaho.
  • Assess the general public's STEM literacy and attitudes in Idaho. 

Research Methods

  • Focus groups with teachers, parents, and community members and interviews with school administrators in each of twelve communities in the state (six rural and six urban) to collect in-depth qualitative information regarding how these different groups think about STEM education (its effectiveness, relevance, and the barriers to STEM educational success) and STEM-related careers.
  • Statewide general public survey regarding STEM education.
  • Statewide surveys of teachers to document the experiences and perceptions of Idaho’s teachers with regard to STEM education.
  • Surveys of students in each of the twelve communities selected for in-depth study. The student survey will assess student perceptions about STEM subjects and STEM-related careers.
  • Surveys of parents of the students selected for data collection. This survey is designed to assess parental perceptions of STEM education and STEM-related careers, as well as understand the familial context and parental perceptions that might influence student attitudes towards STEM subjects and related careers.

Research findings will be widely disseminated to help inform the development of new strategies, innovations, and curricula by multiple stakeholders.