Ku, Heng-Yu

Committee Member

Holmes, Michelle

Committee Member

Kyser, Christine

Committee Member

Morgan, Thomas


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



226 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


School districts across the United States have begun to focus on the holistic learning of their students. At the top of that focus is student learning in socio-emotional and socio-cultural areas, in addition to content areas. This dissertation utilized an explanatory sequential design mixed methodology to explore the socio-emotional competence and socio-cultural perspectives of middles school students in STEM. Through a Likert scale survey and open-ended question, responses of 137 students were gathered to complete factor analysis, compute descriptive analysis, and calculate statistical differences found between genders through the use of t-tests to quantitatively answer research questions one and two. Also used to answer research question two was an open-ended question. For the qualitative portion of the study, 12 female students were selected from the highest six scores and lowest six scores on the Likert survey to answer research questions three and four. These 12 participants were interviewed with openended questions regarding their socio-cultural influences. There were three theoretical frameworks use to drive the research of this study: gender equality, care theory, and selfefficacy. Analysis and discussions were completed to answer research questions one and two. Significant statistical differences were found between male and female participants in socio-emotional competence, in the factor of social-awareness. For research question three, higher scoring female participants shared that they felt stereotyping in STEM was an idea of the past, they displayed strong relationships with educators, they surrounded themselves by STEM interested peers, and explained their perseverance to push themselves to be successful. For research question four, the lower scoring female participants believed that stereotyping of genders in STEM was still current, they indicated mixed relationships with educators, they followed peers regardless of interest in STEM, and exhibited lesser self-efficacy in the school setting. Findings from this study have yielded new foci for educators regarding social-awareness in the classroom. The findings also suggest the significance of educators being cognizant of their influences in the classroom. Additionally, a discussion is made about the importance of positive learning experiences for students, particularly females, in STEM areas. Parents/guardians also have an important role in encouraging their students in STEM.

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