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Psychol Sci. 2012 Aug 1;23(8):899-906. doi: 10.1177/0956797611435530. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Helping parents to motivate adolescents in mathematics and science: an experimental test of a utility-value intervention.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706, USA. jmharack@wisc.edu

Abstract

The pipeline toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) begins to leak in high school, when some students choose not to take advanced mathematics and science courses. We conducted a field experiment testing whether a theory-based intervention that was designed to help parents convey the importance of mathematics and science courses to their high school-aged children would lead them to take more mathematics and science courses in high school. The three-part intervention consisted of two brochures mailed to parents and a Web site, all highlighting the usefulness of STEM courses. This relatively simple intervention led students whose parents were in the experimental group to take, on average, nearly one semester more of science and mathematics in the last 2 years of high school, compared with the control group. Parents are an untapped resource for increasing STEM motivation in adolescents, and the results demonstrate that motivational theory can be applied to this important pipeline problem.

PMID:
22760887
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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