Ongoing policy discussions emphasize the need for more STEM professionals to keep the United States internationally competitive in scientific fields and industry. From a K-16 perspective, it is important to note that students’ trajectories into STEM professions are often shaped by their high school experiences—especially in mathematics. Accordingly, this study employs a strength-based framework to examine students’ high school math achievement with an emphasis on the role of their math-related personal and social strengths. This research uses data from the NCES High School Longitudinal Study, a large-scale national study that emphasizes students’ math outcomes. Moderated regression was utilized to examine associations between students’ high school math-related strengths and their math achievement, as well as how these relationships may differ based upon students’ prior math achievement. The findings suggest that a number of students’ strengths in math were positively related to their math achievement; however, some of these relationships differed base upon prior math achievement levels. Accordingly, while math-related strengths can be equally beneficial for students in some instances, in other instances there is a need to better understand these relationships with some nuance. Implications for K-16 STEM education policy, practice and research are discussed.
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The data that support the findings of this study are openly available from the National Center for Education Statistics at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/hsls09/hsls09_data.asp
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I would like to thank Akeisha Young for her assistance with earlier stages of this research. I would also like to thank Dr. Jane Daquin for her insightful feedback regarding the research design and development of this study.
This research was supported by a grant from the American Educational Research Association which receives funds for its “AERA Grants Program” from the National Science Foundation under NSF award NSF-DRL #1749275. Opinions reflect those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those AERA or NSF.
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Williams, K.L. Contextualizing Math-Related Strengths and Math Achievement: Positive Math Orientations, Social Supports and the Moderating Effects of Prior Math Knowledge. Journal for STEM Educ Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41979-020-00033-z
- K-16 STEM education
- Strength-based research