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About the Project

This research initiative is focused on developing a comprehensive picture of Idaho’s barriers and opportunities in STEM education, specifically exploring how cultural, socio-economic, and rural and urban factors shape students' interest and experience in science, technology, engineering and math.

The research conducted is sponsored by the Micron Foundation. “The Micron Foundation is committed to helping our youth see how STEM plays a role in their everyday life and can be part of their future,” said Micron Foundation Executive Director Dee Mooney. “As a co-sponsor of the University of Idaho’s research initiative, we look forward to learning more about the way in which our communities can improve student experiences in STEM education to ultimately increase their success.”

While numerous STEM initiatives have emerged across the nation, this research is distinctive because it recognizes that the social, cultural, and economic context in which STEM is situated has an impact on the extent to which these disciplines are valued, taught, learned, and practiced.

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

Aspects of the research that is elucidating the attitudes and perceptions that influence our approaches to STEM education include:

  • Focus groups and interviews with citizens, teachers, parents, and school administrators to identify community-specific factors that shape attitudes toward STEM disciplines and how those attitudes impact student academic success
  • Statewide and community-specific telephone surveys to measure attitudes about STEM education and family and community influences on educational experiences.
  • In-class, phone and electronic surveys with students in selected community
  • A statewide survey of teachers
  • Research reports, publications, presentations and a statewide STEM Education conference to inform stakeholders and decision makers

The research findings have already led to a number of innovative STEM Education interventions and the reports are widely used in developing UI’s future STEM education programs and direction.

“This is a core strength of the University of Idaho, through our land-grant mission: to develop comprehensive research and survey data and programs that can be used to effect change and better our state and the nation.”

— Former President M. Duane Nellis

Contact Us

Project Director

Physical Address:

Office: ED 508
University of Idaho
Phone: 208-885-7803

Project Co-Director