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Issues in Educational Research, 2020, Vol 30(2), 593-611.
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Youth STEM career choices: What's influencing secondary students's decision making

Karen Murcia, Coral Pepper and John Williams
Curtin University, Australia

Concerns are being raised about the increasing demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates exceeding supply. Early adolescence is an especially critical time when our youth are forming beliefs about themselves as learners, along with establishing career related goals. In this qualitative research, we considered the significance of STEM self-efficacy through the lens of social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to investigate the influencers in youth career choices. The study involved interviews with fifteen lower secondary school students, fifteen of their parents and three career counsellors from three faith-based schools in Western Australia. Our research goals were to ascertain the impact of the learning environment on students' STEM career interest and self-efficacy; explore the influence of parents' attitudes to STEM engagement and engagement with career advice resources on students' STEM career interest and self-efficacy; and determine how a career counsellors' awareness and engagement with STEM impacts on students' career interests. The four major themes identified after data analysis were parents' career experiences and students' learning achievement influencing STEM career choices; diverse sources of STEM career information; and parents and students valuing STEM careers while envisioning STEM career futures.
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Authors: Associate Professor Karen Murcia is affiliated with the School of Education, Curtin University. Her current research interests include scientific literacy for citizenship, creativity with digital technologies and STEM education. She is a Chief Investigator in the National Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child and a Board Member for the Scitech Discovery Centre in Perth, Western Australia.
Email: karen.murcia@curtin.edu.au

Dr Coral Pepper is a senior research associate in the School of Education at Curtin University. Her teaching and research interests include science education, STEM and sustainability.
Email: coral.pepper@curtin.edu.au

Professor P. John Williams is the Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Education at Curtin University where he teaches and supervises research students in technology education. His current research interests include STEM literacy, pedagogical and content knowledge, and electronic assessment of performance.
Email: pjohn.williams@curtin.edu.au

Please cite as: Murcia, K., Pepper, C. & Williams, P. J. (2020). Youth STEM career choices: What's influencing secondary students's decision making. Issues in Educational Research, 30(2), 593-611. http://www.iier.org.au/iier30/murcia.pdf

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Created 30 May 2020. Last correction: 30 May 2020.
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