Measuring Changes in Interest in Science and Technology at the College Level in Response to Two Instructional Interventions

Document Type


Publication Date



Improving interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is crucial to widening participation and success in STEM studies at the college level. To understand how classroom and extracurricular interventions affect interest, it is necessary to have appropriate measurement tools. We describe the adaptation and revalidation of a previously existing multidimensional instrument to the end of measuring interest in environmental science and technology in college nonscience majors. We demonstrate the revised instrument’s ability to detect change in this group over an 8-week time period. While collection of demographic information was not part of the study design, participating students were similar in that they hailed from three environmental science nonmajor classes sharing a common syllabus and instructional delivery method. Change in interest was measured in response to two types of scientific literature-based learning approaches: a scientific practice approach and a traditional, quiz-driven approach. We found that both approaches led to moderate gains in interest in learning environmental science and careers in environmental science across an 8-week time period. Interest in using technology for learning increased among students using the scientific practice approach; in contrast, the same measure decreased among students using the reading/quiz approach. This result invites the possibility that interest in using technology as a learning tool may relate to technological literacy, which must be taught explicitly in the context of authentic inquiry experiences.