Interpretive investigation of the science-related career decisions of three African-American college students

Authors

  • Bradford F. Lewis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Instruction and Learning, University of Pittsburgh, 4C11 Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
    • Department of Instruction and Learning, University of Pittsburgh, 4C11 Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260.
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  • Angelo Collins

    1. Janet and Harry Knowles Foundation, 859 Edge Park Drive, Haddonfield, New Jersey 08033
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Abstract

Reports published since 1977 indicate that African Americans are underrepresented among Ph.D.-holding scientists. Although researchers have identified numerous factors that correlate with career choice, they have failed to address students' reasons for choosing or not choosing science and science-related careers. This study examines the career decisions of three African-American college students. All three students began college aspiring toward science-related careers. However, by the end of data collection only one student was working toward a science-related career. Data were collected by means of eight, open-ended, 1-hour interviews conducted over a period of 6 months. Findings indicate that students' interest in a science-related career is directly related to the degree to which they perceive that career as being supportive of deep-seated life goals; and that a deeper view of the nature of science better enables students to perceive a science-related career as supportive of life goals. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 599–621, 2001

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