What is STEM Interest?

April 11th, 2019 | RESEARCH

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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Team Members

James Bell, Principal Investigator, Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education
John Besley, Contributor
Mac Cannady, Contributor
Michelle Choi, Project Manager, University of Washington
Kevin Crowley, Co-Principal Investigator
Amy Grack Nelson, Contributor
Tina Phillips, Contributor
Kelly Riedinger, Contributor
Martin Storksdieck, Co-Principal Investigator


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1612739

Related URLs

Explore the Resources
Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (2016-2021)


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: Education and learning science
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Resource Centers and Networks