STEMulating Conversations: Triadic Factors Involved with African American Youths’ STEM Pursuits.
Ramey, Charles L
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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is one of the fastest growing and highly paid career fields in the field. To fulfill these positions, educational agencies will need to produce highly trained and motivated people, and to create a diversified and equitable workforce sustaining the connections to African American youth is vital, but what are the factors that have been successful so far? Using the High School Longitudinal Survey 2009/12 (HSLS) dataset, 172 African American students that enrolled in STEM fields following graduation were investigated to understand the relationship between environmental, psychological, and behavioral factors associated with Bandura’s triadic reciprocal determinism framework. According to Bandura, reciprocal determinism is a concept in which a person’s behavior is influenced by psychological and environmental aspects to varying degrees. The “blending” of such factors produces an effect that, in turn, can imply motivations, interest, and aspirations (e.g., careers). Using triadic reciprocal determinism as a framework - and Eriksonian’s human development, Nigrescence theory, and an anti-deficit achievement as theoretical underpinnings - this study examines the interdependent relationship of the psychological and environmental influences in the participants’ second follow-up responses questions pertaining to mathematical identity and efficacy, school belonging and climate, and algebraic proficiency and math credits earned. Research of African American STEM youth is predominantly qualitative, so this study implements canonical correlation analysis (CCA) to explain the effects of such factors upon adolescents. To examine data using CCA, observed factors are grouped into three canonical sets representing the synthetic variables personal, behavioral, and environmental (in accord with triadic causation) and two variables are partitioned into each set to make a total of six variables. Using CCA, the results indicated statistical significance amongst the models personal-behavioral (Wilks λ = 0.94, F(4, 336) = 2.79, p < 0.05 for a full model) and environmental-personal (Wilks λ = 0.9367, F(4, 336) = 2.7933, p < 0.05 for a full model) where personal-behavioral yielded the highest explained variance model (13.33%) than the others. This model also indicated a direct relationship between factors associated with personal and behavioral factors, verifying various other studies. There was also a direct relationship between mathematical efficacy and factors associated with the synthetic variable environmental; however, there is differentiation within the personal variable set, where mathematical identity and efficacy tend to diverge as the environmental set increases. From this study, the factors mathematical efficacy, algebraic proficiency and school belonging are significant, indicating the usefulness of the triadic reciprocal determinism framework in understanding factors influencing African American youth that pursue STEM majors. This study discusses the implications of Black mathematical identity and self-efficacy in motivating and supporting Black youth seeking careers in STEM.