Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Julianne A. Wenner, Ph.D.


Michele Carney, Ph.D.


Serena Hicks, Ph.D.


Claudia Peralta, Ph.D.


Ethnic minority students and low-income students are grossly underrepresented in demonstrating interest and aspirations in science, evidence of science participation, and subsequent capital. Members of these populations do not often embrace a STEM identity or recognize that science, technology, engineering, and math are for them. While schools struggle to innovate in terms of how best to engage and increase aspirations and opportunities in STEM for these underrepresented populations, the family continues to be the most ignored contributor to a student’s STEM identity. Families play an important role in influencing their students’ attitudes, interests, aspirations, and achievements in STEM. While research exists that points to a family’s capital and dispositions towards science - known as habitus - to influence their children’s STEM identity, there is no research that examines deliberately-designed STEM experiences for the family, as a direct intervention meant to enhance a students’ science identity. Given that identity development is a lengthy process, this study attended to the hypothesized precursors: STEM capital and STEM family habitus. Specifically, this study sought to answer in what ways designed STEM experiences were meaningful for families in the development of STEM capital and the support of STEM habitus. Drawing on parent and student surveys after the family STEM events, observations, and interviews, the findings demonstrate that the designed STEM experiences were significant in building capital through meaningful conversations and connections. The family’s burgeoning STEM habitus was also made visible through developing interests, both by parents and students. The designed STEM experiences were instrumental in connecting families to STEM investigations, developing a community of learners, and providing access to STEM participation they might not have had on their own. Implications of these findings for education stakeholders include deliberate design methods to maximize family engagement and interest, as well as ways to develop a STEM community of practice within underrepresented populations.