Michael Gottfried, Assistant Professor of Education at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, has been awarded a $250,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant for the project named “Understanding the Role of Contextual Effects in STEM Pursuit and Persistence: A Synthesis Approach.” This project will seek to understand how various informal youth contexts might shape K-12 STEM outcomes and engagement, including math and science achievement, self-efficacy, and future educational and career goals. The youth contexts that will be explored are neighborhoods, communities, and peer groupings. Gottfried states, “There is much research in the areas of how students learn STEM in formal settings, but there is little knowledge of the impact of informal settings on STEM.” Gottfried sees that understanding the role of youth contexts is crucial to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to pursue STEM both in the classroom but also beyond the school grounds.
Gottfried leads a research team composed of faculty from USC and Tufts University that will conduct two large-scale meta-analyses--one based on the quantitative research body and one based on the qualitative research body--in order to draw conclusions about which contextual factors relate to which STEM outcomes. In doing so, this project will inform educators and policymakers about the cumulative evidence that exists on the impacts of a variety of contextual factors on many STEM outcomes. With this methodology, this study will also be the first to provide a clearinghouse of rigorous research related to contextual factors of STEM outcomes. Moreover, this project will provide new evidence regarding the significance of youth contexts on STEM outcomes that will assist policymakers and educators in evaluating which non-schooling contexts are most effective.
Dr. Gottfried’s research focuses on the economics of education and education policy. Using the analytic tools from these disciplines, he has examined issues pertaining to peer effects, classroom context, and STEM. His research extends across the K-16 pipeline. Dr. Gottfried has published numerous articles in these areas, with multiple publications in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, American Educational Research Journal, Education Finance and Policy, Teachers College Record, American Journal of Education, Journal of Educational Research, and Elementary School Journal, among others. He is/has been the Principal Investigator on multiple funded research grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NICHD), American Educational Research Association, and the Haynes Foundation. He has won multiple scholarly awards for his research, including the Outstanding Publication in Methodology Award in both 2010 and in 2012 given by AERA Division H and the Highest Reviewed Paper Award in 2013 given by AERA SIG: School Effectiveness and School Improvement.