Case Study

Identifying Drivers of Interest for STEM and Science Careers Among Teens


Our client, a nonprofit organization, wanted to understand what drives interest in STEM-related fields among teens to help develop programs that would encourage more teens to choose science as an area of interest and potential career.

C+R’s challenge was to identify the most impactful ways to encourage the exploration of STEM subjects after high school. We conducted a two-phase qual-and-quant study to identify barriers and motivators for teens, as well as steps our client could take to encourage teens to consider STEM fields after high school.


How to Motivate Teens to Consider Science/STEM Careers

A nonprofit organization sought to understand how to motivate teens to study science in college, with the intent to pursue a career in a STEM field after graduation. With this information, the client hoped to provide educators and program funders with guidance on how to encourage the study of science and, subsequently, science-focused careers. They also wanted to develop press and advocacy around science for teens based on the study findings.


Multi-Modal Qual and Quant

C+R developed a two-stage qualitative and quantitative program of research to help answer our client’s important questions.

First, we conducted a three-day immersive qualitative online qualitative discussion to identify potential barriers and motivators for engagement with science. We spoke with teens to gain an understanding of how they talk about and how they relate to education, their influences, and the comparative role and importance science played in their lives. Via this discussion, we sought to identify sources of inspiration and motivation for science careers, and we helped to deepen our client’s understanding of how teens see others being attracted to scientific pursuits and careers.

  • Next, we conducted a quantitative survey to quantify these motivators and barriers to teen engagement with science. Specifically, the survey was designed to: Identify what they know and their impressions of science and related subjects/fields
  • Understand who and what influences their study/career considerations
  • Gauge where science fits within their consideration of studies/careers
  • Uncover elements that have the most impact on influencing interest in science, as well as barriers

The result

Program Development Leverages Motivations and Barriers Uncovered

As a result of the research, our client walked away with a complete understanding of the role of both in-school and out-of-school influences to help develop a teen’s interest in the sciences.

The identified motivators and barriers helped to direct program development and supported educators in developing access to opportunities both in school and in real-world applications with the goal of increasing exposure to STEM fields among high school-aged teens.

Click here to view the findings of the survey published by our client.

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