There is a widespread concern that the profile of those who do go on to study STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and pursue STEM careers is too narrow, with women, working-class and some minority ethnic groups remaining under-represented, especially in the physical sciences and engineering. According to the literature in the field, discrepancies between youths’ own identity and STEM careers’ identity (male, white and brainy), family “science capital” (science-related qualifications, knowledge about science, etc.) and students’ self-efficacy in STEM (their believes on their own capacity and competence in the field) are three major causes of students disinterest for STEM subjects (Macdonald, 2014).
In this sense, we have learned both from experience and the literature that self-efficacy is crucial to explain young people’s disinterest for STEM subjects: an improvement of self-efficacy in STEM-related activities has a positive impact on students’ interest on STEM subjects. This effect is more significant in those under-represented collectives, whose self-efficacy in STEM has shown to be low (and much lower than their actual performance) (Everis 2015).
Fortunately, in recent years many schools and non-formal educational institutions have realized the importance of self-efficacy in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and are initiating changes in this direction. However, these institutions are usually isolated and their initiatives are more due to intuition than evidence-based. For this reason, CRECIM and six other European educational institutions have launched the “STEAM4U” project, which aims to help these institutions -and others interested- promote equity in STEAM. The STEAM4U project aims to promote equity in STEAM education by enhancing 10-14-year-old students’ self-efficacy in these fields, and particularly targeting those students in disadvantaged situations in STEAM. In particular, the STEAM4U project pursue to improve existing educational strategies -in current formal and non-formal learning environments- that promote the improvement of self-efficacy in STEAM for students
The project, founded by the Erasmus + KA2 program, will be developed during 2016 and 2018. A toolkit for assessing the promotion of self-efficacy and related factors in STEAM education and an online personal guide for self-training and empowerment on self-efficacy for pupils aged 10-14 named “STEAM is for me” will be developed as a results of the project in order to help other institutions promote equity in STEAM.