Constructing STEM identity: An expanded structural model for STEM identity research

Sunday, October 17, 2021
Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed article | Research
Environment Type: 
Informal/Formal Connections, Higher Education Programs
Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Families | Parents/Caregivers | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | General STEM
Access and Inclusion: 
Hispanic/Latinx Communities
Immigrant Communities
Women and Girls
Florida International University

Identity development frameworks provide insight into why and to what extent individuals engage in STEM related activities. While studies of “STEM identity” often build off previously validated disciplinary and/or science identity frameworks, quantitative analyses of constructs that specifically measure STEM identity and its antecedents are scarce, making it challenging for researchers or practitioners to apply a measurement-based perspective of participation in opportunities billed as “STEM.” In this study, we tested two expanded structural equation models of STEM identity development, building off extensions of science and disciplinary identity frameworks, that incorporated additional factors relevant to identity development: gender, ethnicity, home science support, parental education, and experiencing science talk in the home. Our models test theorized relationships between interest, sense of recognition, performance-competence, and identity in the context of STEM with undergraduate students (N = 522) enrolled in introductory STEM courses at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Our findings support our measurement of STEM identity and its indicators, providing researchers with a predictive model associated with academic intentions across disciplinary domains in STEM. Further, our expanded model (i.e., Model I+) indicates significant contributions of participant gender, which has a larger indirect effect on STEM identity (β = 0.50) than the direct effect of STEM interest (β = 0.29), and of home support in relation to performance-competence in academic contexts. Our model also posits a significant contribution of family science talk to sense of recognition as a STEM person, expanding our understandings of the important role of the home environment while challenging prior conceptions of science capital and habitus. We situate our results within a broader discussion regarding the validity of “STEM identity” as a concept and construct in the context of communities often marginalized in STEM fields.

For more information please contact the corresponding author, Dr. Remy Dou (

Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
Publication Name: 
Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Page Number: 

Team Members

Heidi CianHeidi CianAuthor
Remy DouAuthor

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