Research: Funded Research

Pathways to Science and Engineering Professions: Persistence and career choice for bachelors and masters graduates? research experiences, decision points and labor market transitions

This study is of the critical choice points in the pathway through college, into an occupation, and onto a career in science and engineering. This comprehensive analysis of critical choice points in students biosciences and engineering pathways contributes to developing a model and assessment of key high impact events in STEM workforce development. This study complements research on the educational pathways of these students, of the supply side, by expanding STEM pathway models to include the demand side dynamics of career choice and persistence at non-Ph.D. levels. We focus on the role of the research experience in developing scientists and engineers at the baccalaureate and masters levels to better understand STEM workforce investments and program effectiveness.

The development and analysis of the rich datasets at The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (University of Michigan) uses detailed information about S&E students from university administrative records linked to employment and other survey data (LEHD, Census) and the enhanced STAR microdata for Committee on Institutional Cooperation universities. Analysis of other data sets (B&B/BPS from NCES; SESTAT) will provide initial pathways analysis and inform development of the IRIS data. In both data analyses we can follow a large sample of these students into the workforce and, for a smaller sample, examine the employment and education outcomes for
all science and engineering graduates. These comprehensive datasets support an assessment of research experiences and high impact events on critical choice points, providing guidance for agencies directing STEM investments.

The second major task of the project is interviews with students, early career scientists
and engineers, and employers. These interviews will be conducted by the Rutgers team and will work iteratively with the quantitative analysis to identify key decision points in academic and career trajectories, analyzing the dynamics of those decision points. In particular, the interviews and field work will focus on the role of research experiences on decision points and demand side factors that affect science and engineering career entry and persistence. Field work in firms and colleges will examine how firms are structuring bioscience and engineering jobs and careers and how that affects the career choices and initial career trajectories.


Rutgers University

Funding Period:

05/01/2016 to 04/30/2021