CAREER: How Families Motivate Mexican-Origin Adolescents to Pursue Physical Science in High School

March 15th, 2011 - February 29th, 2016 | PROJECT

The proposed CAREER study uses a comprehensive mixed-methods design to develop measures of motivational beliefs and family supports for Spanish and English speaking Mexican-origin youth in high school physical science. The research examines a three-part model which may provide a deeper understanding of how Mexican families support youth through their general education strategies, beliefs about physical science, and science specific behaviors. This approach incorporates motivation and ecodevelopmental theories while pursuing an innovative line of research that examines how the contributions of older siblings and relatives complement or supplement parental support. The study has four aims which are to (1) to develop reliable, valid measures of Mexican-origin adolescent motivational beliefs and family supports in relation to high school chemistry and physics, (2) to test whether family supports predict motivational beliefs and course enrollment, (3) to test how indicators in Aim 2 vary based on gender, culture, English language skills and relationship quality, and (4) to examine how family supports strengthen or weaken the relationship between school-based interactions (teachers and peer support) and the pursuit of physical science studies. Spanish and English-speaking Mexican-origin youth will participate in focus groups to inform the development of a survey instrument which will be used in a statistical measurement equivalence study of 300 high school students in fulfillment of Aim 1. One hundred and fifty Mexican high school students and their families will participate in a longitudinal study while students progress through grades 9-12 to examine Aims 2- 4. Data to be collected includes information on science coursework, adolescent motivational beliefs, supports by mothers and older youth in the family, and family interactions. All materials will be in English and Spanish. The educational and research integration plan uses a three pronged approach which includes mentoring of doctoral students, teacher outreach, and the evaluation of the ASU Biodesign high school summer internship program using measures resulting from the research. It is anticipated that the study findings will provide research-based solutions to some of the specific behaviors that influence youth motivation in physical sciences. Specifically, the study will identify youth that might be most affected by an intervention and the age of maximum benefit, as well as valid, reliable measures of youths' motivation that can used in interventions to measure outcomes. The study will also identify family behaviors that may be influenced, including education strategies for school preparation, beliefs about physical science, and sciece-specific strategies such as engaging in science activities outside school. The findings will be broadly disseminated to science teachers, scholars, and families of Mexican-origin youth. This multi-tiered approach will advance current scholarship and practice concerning Mexican-origin adolescents' pursuit of physical science.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

Parental Support and High School Students' Motivation in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics: Understanding Differences Among Latino and Caucasian Boys and Girls

Team Members

Sandra Simpkins, Principal Investigator, Arizona State University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1054798
Funding Amount: 280895


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Immigrant Communities
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Chemistry | Education and learning science | Physics | Social science and psychology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops