What is STEM Interest?
The landmark 2009 National Research Council consensus report Learning Science in Informal Environments, posited that learners in informal environments “experience excitement, interest, and motivation to learn about phenomena in the natural and physical world” as one of six strands of informal science learning. In 2016, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology identified “increased interest and motivation” around STEM topics as a short-term, measurable outcome of science engagement activities. For many professionals who design, evaluate, and research how people learn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in informal settings, these findings and developments affirmed a long-held claim that catalyzing interest is one of the key strengths of informal STEM learning and engagement experiences.
In 2018, the CAISE Evaluation and Measurement Task Force asked a sample of 10 STEM education researchers, science communication scholars, social psychologists, learning scientists, and informal science educators to share their thinking and work on "STEM interest." From those interviews, CAISE produced video clips, conversation highlights, and a summary of what we heard across the 10 interviews, "The Role of Interest in STEM Learning and Science Communication: Reflections on Interviews from the Field."
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