“I see myself as a STEM person”: Exploring high school students' self-identification with STEM

Carme Grimalt-Álvaro*, Digna Couso, Ester Boixadera-Planas, Spela Godec

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the literature, STEM identity tends to be characterized either as students' relationship with the STEM field “as a whole,” or their relationship with a particular STEM area, such as science. With this study, we add to the existing scholarship by characterizing the profiles of students who identified themselves as “STEM people.” A 52-item questionnaire was administered to 1004 students aged 12–16 from high schools in and around Barcelona, Spain. To profile different groups of students, we performed a hierarchical cluster analysis that included responses relating to participants' interest, competence, self-efficacy, and aspirations to different STEM and non-STEM areas. Our analysis generated six different clusters, which we interpreted as ranging from positive to negative self-identification with STEM. Our particular interest was in the two clusters we interpreted as exhibiting positive STEM identity (C1 and C2). The analysis suggested that there were two different ways of considering oneself as a STEM person. Students who self-identified as STEM people were either more inclined toward technology and engineering (C1) or science (C2), particularly in terms of their aspirations. These two clusters were also strongly gendered, with C1 being dominated by boys and C2 by girls. Although our findings suggest the existence of a conscious “sense of STEM identity,” we suggest that students who self-identified as STEM people may have ascribed different meanings to the STEM based on their preferences. As such, this study questions the suitability of studying STEM identity “as a whole” without also considering how students relate to individual STEM and non-STEM areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-745
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number5
Early online date22 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • cluster analysis
  • gender
  • secondary education
  • STEM identity


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