University of Oulu

What promotes interest in a science career path? : exploring graduate students and postdoctoral researchers’ descriptions of their interest development

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Author: Malacara Estrada, Lourdes1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Pages: 79
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : L. Malacara Estrada, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-05-27
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Järvenoja, Hanna
Reviewer: Järvenoja, Hanna
Harmoinen, Sari


Developments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are essential to improve the way people live and they have a profound impact on the global economy. The lack of interest in STEM is resulting in a decrease in the number of people studying a degree in these areas. It is also threatening the engagement of people in science issues, which have an impact on society.

The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences and reasons that have influenced the development of interest in science from the perspective of science graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The research questions were: What type of interest-related reasons and experiences did the participants describe as influencing on their science career path development?, How the different types of interest-related reasons and experiences were situated in the different phases of their science career path? and What type of interest profiles can be found to lead to the science career path?

Ten science graduate students and postdoctoral researchers were interviewed to analyze their interest-related experiences and reasons through qualitative content analysis. The experiences were situated in the different phases of their career paths, encompassing both school and higher education years. In the analysis, the participants’ descriptions were classified into categories to qualitatively identify different types of experiences that promoted interest in STEM. Finally, the career paths of the participants were compared to define different types of interest profiles that can lead to a science career.

The results indicated that interest-related experiences were associated with the context, the social network and with individual reasons. Most of the experiences were situated in university, followed by elementary school, high school, preschool and finally middle school. Also, four different profiles were found to lead to a science career path. In conclusion, the synergy of interest-related experiences provided by different contexts and significant people were essential to influence the development of interest in science. Therefore, collaboration between schools and families can be relevant to promote interest in science.

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Copyright information: © Lourdes Malacara Estrada, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.