Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Katherine Schultz

Second Advisor

Andrew C. Porter

Abstract

The needs for strengthening the STEM pipeline in the United States have moved beyond routine concerns and acquired an unprecedented level of urgency. As a result, many educational and business entities, and government and private organizations have launched myriad initiatives targeted towards achievement of the above goal. The extant body of research, while certainly explicating the essential steps that can be actuated by educational, research, and legislative entities, has largely left out the potential role of parents. Accordingly, the primary question guiding this research was: How do parents prepare their boys and girls for the STEM pipeline? What is the range and variation of support given by fathers and mothers to their children for exploring and entering STEM fields?

Based on this study's findings, I posit that parents extend support through a model of "AID: Adaptive, Incidental, and Deliberate Practices" representing the totality of their choices, decisions, perspectives, actions, and interventions. The study reveals parents' efforts within an evolving pattern of noteworthy transitions, commencing from children's early childhood years and lasting through high school. Finally, this study has identified a unique combination of characteristics underscoring parents' efforts across the above identified categories and transitions.

All together, the findings of this study provide details of parents' motivations, knowledge, understandings, concerns, and ambiguities underscoring their efforts to prepare boys and girls for exploring and entering the STEM pipeline. Beyond providing insightful explanations of the parents' perspectives, this study shares invaluable understandings that may be put to further use by parents, educators, parent advocates, STEM researchers and policymakers, who are interested in the development of feasible strategies and forward leading opportunities for strengthening the STEM pipeline.

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