STEM Interest

Why Does It Matter?

"The Superpowers of STEM" by Stephanie Hill, 12 minutes

Inspiring STEM Interest Early-On

Interest and disinterest in STEM topics significantly impacts an individual's choice to pursue a career in STEM. Some people discover very early on that they are interested in STEM - others don't.

In the video, Ms. Hill shares her story as an "accidental engineer", whose interest in STEM was first ignited during an undergraduate programming class. Through sharing her own experience, Ms. Hill emphasizes the importance of igniting that interest at a young age and supporting underrepresented students.

By understanding the degree of interest students in a class/school/program have in STEM topics, fields, and careers, teachers and programs will be able to design lessons and curriculum to meet student needs.

About the Instrument

The STEM interest survey helps to answer the following questions:

  • What are the students' attitudes towards and opinions about science, technology, engineering, and math?

  • What do students think about careers in STEM?

This 25 question survey, developed by Tyler-Wood, allows for detailed feedback on why students do or why students do not find STEM topics and a career in STEM interesting.

There are also different approaches other than the one above. One such alternative, created by Byars-Winston et al., is a 15 question survey. Students are asked about their interest in various STEM subjects and doing a variety of STEM-related activities.

Due to the simplicity of this alternative approach, a lot of nuanced information is lost. Additionally, the larger scoring range of the first survey allows for better interpretation of the data (details on scoring included in the document). On the other hand, the simpler survey had its benefits, including that students can complete it quicker with less frustration.



  • Byars-Winston, A., Estrada, Y., Howard, C., Davis, D., & Zalapa, J. (2010). Influence of Social Cognitive and Ethnic Variables on Academic Goals of Underrepresented Students in Science and Engineering: A Multiple-Groups Analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(2): 205–218. doi:10.1037/a0018608.

  • TEDx Talks. (2018, May 24). The Superpowers of STEM | Stephanie Hill | TEDxMidAtlantic [Video]. YouTube.

  • Tyler-Wood, T., Knezek, G. & Christensen, R. Instruments for Assessing Interest in STEM Content and Careers Journal of Technology and Teacher Education 18, 341-363 (2010).