Early Childhood Education (B.S.Ed.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Meca Williams-Johnson


The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of elementary school teachers on encouraging students’ interest and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The researcher sought to understand what methods teachers use in their classrooms to encourage students to participate in STEM subjects and programs. This mixed methods study consisted of a questionnaire to collect quantitative data, as well as an interview of selected teachers who participated in the questionnaire to collect qualitative data. The data was analyzed to determine the overall perceptions of teachers regarding the importance of encouraging students to participate in STEM. The qualitative interview process was then used to explore in more detail what specific methods the teachers implemented to encourage students to participate in STEM. Results of this study suggest that the participants strongly agreed that it was important for students to be interested in STEM subjects and for teachers to encourage students’ interest in STEM subjects. However, the teachers did not as strongly agree in their abilities to effectively teach STEM content or make it fun and engaging for the students. This showed that the teachers’ belief in encouraging students to participate in STEM was more highly rated than their feeling of efficacy in teaching and engaging the students in STEM. The qualitative portion of this study revealed strategies used by veteran teachers who increased their teaching and engaging students in STEM subjects at the elementary level.

Available for download on Friday, October 30, 2020