Motivated by the perceived disparity between supply and demand for skilled workers in STEM fields, namely, science, technology, engineering and math, the purpose of this paper is to conduct an empirical study of attitude and readiness for STEM education and careers among American and Chinese college students in business disciplines. The authors’ findings point out that students in China and the USA have some significantly different perspectives of STEM maybe because they are prepared and inspired differently. These differences may have fundamentally impacted their attitude and readiness for pursuing a STEM career. Implications from this research project should be noteworthy to educators and academic administrators so that appropriate curricula and cultivation can be offered.
The authors have decided to look into the situation using a comparison approach by surveying a randomly chosen group of college students from China and another from the USA and then analyzed their responses to the authors’ delicately constructed survey in a hope of finding any patterns that may cause the authors to rethink about the authors’ approaches to cultivating interest in STEM.
The findings described in the paper should offer us some significant, though still preliminary, implications as follows: both American and Chinese students admire STEM careers, but feel rewarding differently; American students may have other career choices that may be equal or more rewarding while Chinese students choose STEM fields by following a cultural norm; having early exposure to science subjects and gaining relevant experience help grow interest in STEM among American students, but such exposure may bring about negative effect on career choices; American female students are at least as capable of succeeding in STEM as their male counterparts; American students seek more advice on their career choices than Chinese students who may follow a cultural norm. Advisory service from teachers and parents may impact differently from peer influence does; extracurricular activities can more positively affect interest in STEM than taking science courses.
Although the survey has collected responses from only business students in both countries, the resulting implications should reflect what a sizable segment of college students feel and think about STEM and thus should allow educators and institutional administrators to use as evidence in pursuing innovative curricula and advisory services that would better prepare our future students for STEM education and beyond, especially in those disciplines, like business administration, in which STEM skills are increasingly in demand.
Some significant, though still preliminary, implications should be readily drawn from the study: first, both American and Chinese students admire STEM careers, but rewarding may mean different things to them. American students may have other career choices that may be equal or more rewarding per their definition of rewarding while Chinese students may pursue STEM fields by following a cultural norm rather than by considering it rewarding. Second, having early exposure to science subjects and gaining relevant experience can help grow interest in STEM among American students, but such exposure, especially taking science courses, may bring about negative effect on career choices. Extracurricular activities can more positively affect interest in STEM than taking science courses. Third, female students are at least as equally interested and capable of succeeding in STEM as their male counterparts, but their interest and confidence may be more vulnerable to challenges imposed by market reality and cultural bias. Fourth, American students seek more advice when available on their career choices than Chinese students do as the former may face more competing career choices and possess less preparation for STEM than the latter does. Finally, advisory service from teachers and parents may impact differently than the influence peers can perpetrate. Club activities when peers can naturally influence each other may be quite effective in promoting interest in and preparing readiness for STEM, and these activities are more effective to American students than Chinese students and to male students than female students.
Nine hypotheses are proposed to validate through this empirical study. These hypotheses reflect thoughts upon the literature review and pertain to the factors that should impact STEM education.
Rezayat, F. and Sheu, M. (2020), "Attitude and readiness for stem education and careers: A comparison between American and Chinese students", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 111-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-07-2018-0200Download as .RIS
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