Campus and Community

UHD Researcher Among Recipients of Spencer Foundation Grant

The prestigious Spencer Foundation—dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to improve education around the world—is supporting research that aims to explore the factors affecting high school students’ success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The research, led by the Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP), includes principal investigator (PI) Dr. Adem Ekmekci, director of research and evaluation for RUSMP and clinical assistant professor of mathematics, and co-PI Dr. Danya Corkin, assistant professor of psychology at UHD.

The one-year highly competitive grant—totaling $34,805—will fund investigation into the factors affecting students’ motivation for STEM fields, particularly considering the integral role these fields have in contributing to the U.S. economy and defense. In response, Ekmekci and Corkin are exploring the extent to which high school students’ motivation and their mathematics and science teachers’ dispositions, qualifications, and practices relate to students’ persistence in STEM fields using a nationally representative dataset—the High  School Longitudinal Study of 2009.  By identifying the necessary teacher dispositions, qualifications, and instructional practices that promote student retention in STEM fields, the results of this study will have significant implications for mathematics and science teacher preparation and professional development programs and for education policies aiming to increase and broaden students’ participation in STEM.

“It is my hope that the results of this study will inform math and science teachers about the types of instructional practices that are most effective in increasing students’ motivation to pursue STEM careers, especially for female and racial/ethnic minority students who are underrepresented in STEM disciplines,” said Corkin.