The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has undergone immense transformation since the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, and the educational sector has seen vivid reform. The UAE government is increasingly seeking diversification of its economy and, as a result, the country’s goals heavily emphasise education in the development of its Knowledge Economy. There is a strong emphasis on science skills and knowledge among the national population in the UAE National Vision for 2021, to drive technological innovations that will necessitate large numbers of highly qualified nationals working in the STEM sector. Therefore, the study of young peoples’ STEM career aspirations is critical in the UAE. Using data from the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) 2015 database, this study investigates the relationship between STEM career aspirations among 15-year-old girls and boys (N = 5158) with science achievement, and the links between students’ enjoyment of science, science self-efficacy, interest in science and instrumental motivation to learn science with STEM career aspirations. Students’ science achievement was found to be positively associated with STEM career aspirations and a significantly stronger association was observed for male students. Students’ enjoyment of science, science self-efficacy, interest in science and instrumental motivation to learn science were found to be significantly positively associated with STEM career aspirations for both genders. However, a considerably stronger relationship with STEM career aspirations was observed for female students with higher levels of instrumental motivation to learn science. Possible implications of these findings for the UAE are discussed.
- Career aspirations
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