Poor performance in STEM classes as compared to non-STEM classes significantly increases the probability that students will switch their major to a non-STEM field1. These poor academic outcomes are not the result of student academic ability. Instead, these outcomes may be the result of underdeveloped self-regulated learning skills2. My studies combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the development of self-regulated learning (SRL) skills in students enrolled in undergraduate STEM courses. As a neuroscientist and discipline-based education researcher, my research interests emphasize the intersections between neurobiological processes, psychology, and human development/learning. Rather than focusing on fixed traits that underlie learning, modern neurobiology emphasizes the adaptability and flexibility of the brain. Specifically, the brain facilitates learning via neural plasticity- the ability of neural networks to reorganize their structure, functions, or connections in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli3. This reorganization is shaped by an individual’s learning experiences4. My research focuses on the psychological aspects (e.g., interpretations of events based on prior experiences), and social aspects (e.g., cultural practices)4 that encompass learning experiences in STEM.
he goal of our study is to understand how various institutions can support STEM majors from various backgrounds and academic years