How can middle school students be inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields? It’s a question that has significant implications for education and workforce development.
In the Middle Grades Career Mentors project, EDC and partners investigated whether industry mentors and school counselors can motivate middle-school students to explore STEM careers. The project included a national pilot study that examined the impact of an intervention designed to raise young people’s awareness of rewarding technical careers.
Staff carried out the following activities:
- Studied perceptions of STEM-focused Career Technical Education (CTE) from a nationwide sample of 800 middle-school–aged youth and 30 mentors from skill-based STEM industries
- Worked with mentors to deepen understanding of mentors’ needs for support
- Tested the development of a CTE STEM Digital Resource Study Guide to support positive messaging around skill-based education and careers with mentors
- Tested the use of the guide with mentors and school counselors to determine the intervention’s overall promise
Key findings included the following:
- School counselors were able to use the guide’s tools to engage middle-grade students.
- The tools improved students’ knowledge of and interest in STEM careers and pathways.
- The tools improved communication and discussions about career options and pathways.
- Mentors believed that mentoring has the potential to improve representation and recruitment of diverse populations in STEM fields.
- For mentoring to succeed, mentors must commit time and find effective ways to engage students, even when mentoring organizations do not provide adequate support.
WGBH Education Foundation, Global Strategy Group