Understanding Youths’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Aspiration

Year: 2019

Author: So, Winnie, Wing, Mui

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Recently, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education has received much attention globally. There is no exception in Hong Kong with the Government highlighted STEM education in the recent Policy Addresses. This study aims to capture factors affecting Hong Kong youth’ STEM aspirations, including the interaction of family-, school-, and societal-level factors of the STEM ecosystem as suggested by UNESCO’s study in 2017.

This study employed a survey design. A questionnaire for the survey was developed making reference to international studies (Archer & DeWitt, 2017) with due consideration of the local situation and culture. The questionnaire consisted of the following parts of demographic characteristics; participation in STEM activities outside school; family factors; school factors; self-perception in STEM learning; future study and career choices and images of STEM professionals. Data was collected online from students and was analyzed using SPSS 25.0 in descriptive statistics, T-tests, Chi-square tests and Multiple Regression.

This paper reported the preliminary findings with data from 5 primary schools, following sections of respondents’ profiles, students’ self-efficacy in school STEM learning, purpose of STEM learning, views of STEM professional, differences between the students who would and would not choose STEM subjects and predictors of STEM career aspirations.

Major findings on student’s self-efficacy found that students were more confident of personal ability in learning IT and Science than Mathematics. Specifically, more students considered IT and Science as less difficult than Math, and believed that they were more capable in studying Science and IT compared to studying Math. For purposes of STEM learning, data shows that, most students aimed to fulfil their individual and social needs. For students’ view of STEM professionals, most students agreed STEM professional are smart and they are doing exciting work. The analysis also shows that for the students who would choose STEM subjects, the comments on their perceived STEM learning and their purposes for STEM learning were more positive, and they have higher STEM career aspirations compared to those who would not choose STEM subjects. Last but not least, it is found that the more informal STEM activities the students attended, the more confident they are in Science; and the more positive the views towards STEM professional, the higher students’ STEM career aspirations.