AEFP 45th Annual Conference

Toward a Meaningful Impact through Research, Policy & Practice

March 19-21, 2020

Impact of Work-Based-Learning on Florida Community College STEM Education and Careers

Kellie Kim, WestEd,

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation to explore the potential of WBL to reduce attrition from community college STEM for all students, particularly those who lack social and cultural support for entering STEM fields from the perspective of the social cognitive career theory (SCCT). SCCT combines three interrelated aspects of career development: (1) how academic and career interests develop, (2) how educational and career choices are made, and (3) how academic and career success is obtained. The SCCT framework focuses on individual factors that influence education and career selection and persistence, including self-efficacy, outcomes expectations, and goals, as well as environmental factors including culture, family, peers, and social stereotypes. While SCCT has been used to explore the selection of STEM education and careers by different groups, it has never been applied to the study of WBL. Yet SCCT holds promise for understanding why community college STEM students participate in the work-based learning (WBL) or do not, how WBL can support their participation and persistence in STEM, and WBL conditions and experiences that might be especially encouraging for historically underrepresented students.
We partnered with two large community colleges in Florida for this study since community colleges are the primary institutions charged with training youth and adults to fill sub-baccalaureate STEM positions. Research suggests that WBL has the potential to improve perceptions of abilities and influence goals and expectations. In particular, this approach holds great promise for women, underrepresented minorities, and low- income and lower-skilled youth and adults, who all too often lack equitable access to high-quality WBL experiences that can serve as stepping-stones to increased economic opportunities. Yet, even though WBL in community colleges has grown in recent years and shows potential for reducing attrition in STEM and broadening participation, little is known about who participates in WBL; if there are differences in participation by gender and race/ethnicity, and if so, why; and the impacts on certificate and degree completion and postgraduation transition to STEM careers and further education. The study utilizes a mixed-methods design and both qualitative (e.g., interviews, student surveys) and quantitative (FL state administrative data) data are used.
We propose a poster presentation of the preliminary findings from interviews of students, employers, and community college faculty and administrators, as well as student surveys and administrative data provided by the community colleges addressing the following research questions and associated sub-questions:
1. Participation in community college STEM WBL
2. Structures of community college STEM WBL opportunities and their alignment to best practice principles
The question on the impact of WBL participation is being examined using Florida's administrative data and findings are not available at the time of this proposal submission.



Comprehensive study! In initial stages? I find the demographics of the population and of your sample interesting, particularly the differences in race/ethnicity by gender - that was striking for me. Will be interested to here more on students perspectives. It seems as the employer side is not too surprising.

Thank you! It's a 3-year study and we are about 2/3 done. Due to changes in leadership in FL Department of Education, obtaining the administrative data has been delayed. We are currently interviewing students, faculty, and employers for Broward. Once the qualitative analyses are completed, we expect to see more student perspectives.

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