We report results from two studies testing the Mediation Model of Research Experiences, which posits that science (or engineering) self-efficacy and identity as a scientist (or engineer) mediate the association between support programs and students’ commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Study 1 included 502 matriculated and recently graduated undergraduate STEM students. Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that research experience, instrumental mentoring, and involvement in a community of scientists were associated with commitment to a STEM career, mediated through science/engineering self-efficacy and identity as a scientist/engineer. There were few interactions with ethnicity and none with gender. In Study 2, 63 undergraduate students in science/engineering support programs were surveyed with a similar instrument at the beginning and end of their programs. Pre–post analyses indicated that increases over time in community involvement were associated with increases in science/engineering self-efficacy, and increases over time in science/engineering identity were associated with increased commitment to a STEM career. Taken together, these two studies show the importance of psychological processes such as identity and self-efficacy in understanding the specific ways in which science/engineering support programs lead to enhanced commitment to a career in STEM among White and underrepresented minority undergraduate students.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by Grant Number R01GM071935 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, or the National Institutes of Health. We are grateful for the support of our research team members; Julian Fernald and Sirinda Sincharoen from UCSC Institutional Research; and the participating faculty, staff, and students. Study materials and analytic code are available at https://osf.io/9y6j7/. The data reported in this article are not openly available, but are available from the authors upon request.