Promising Interventions for Promoting STEM Fields to Students Who Have Disabilities

Burgstahler, Sheryl; Chang, Chuan
April 2009
Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal;2009, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p29
Academic Journal
This study compared two groups of transition program participants-those with reported strengths and career goals in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) and those without-regarding their characteristics and perceptions of the social, academic, and career benefits of program interventions. Consistent with previous research on gender and STEM, more males than females reported strengths and goals in STEM. Results suggest that type of disability may play a role in the perception of STEM fields as career options, perhaps resulting in less interest in these fields on the part of students with mobility/orthopedic impairments. While the STEM group expressed more interest in technology-related activities, non-STEM participants consistently rated themselves higher in self-advocacy skills and perceived that program participation improved their social skills more than did STEM participants. Regarding motivation to attend college, academic interest and love of learning! challenges was cited more often by members of the STEM group, while job/career preparation was identified by more of the non-STEM students. As far as motivation for employment, financial security was selected by significantly more of the STEM-oriented participants and pursuit of independent living was chosen by more of the non-STEM participants. Results suggest that program interventions may help change college study and career plans of those who do not initially have STEM interests. Based on the responses of the two groups in this study, the authors make program recommendations for increasing the representation of people with disabilities in STEM fields.


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