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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Dissertation: Campus only access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Joseph Jesunathadas



This study examined the experiences of seven undergraduates, underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, who participated in a summer STEM internship program in California, United States. I created an instrument entitled Qualitative Survey of Students’ Attitudes and Engagement toward STEM (QSSAE-STEM) to collect data via email. The instrument was examined for face and for content validity by four content experts with professional experience in STEM disciplines and knowledge of the study's population and the research topic of interest. Additional data were collected using individual in-depth interviews, and a focus group discussion.

Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, the findings suggested that students’ attitudes and engagement in STEM were influenced by the four major interrelated themes that emerged: (1) Love of STEM, (2) Appropriate resources, (3) Learning by doing, and (4) Benefits of STEM. The findings also indicated that student engagement in STEM meant, on the one hand, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and agentic engagement during STEM learning activities, on the other hand, it meant the pursuit of STEM majors and the aspiration in STEM careers. Drawing on the findings of this study and on Reeve’s (2012) conceptual model of student engagement during a learning activity, I proposed a conceptual model for student engagement in STEM. Recommendations for practice, policy, and future research were made based on the findings of this phenomenological study.