The Road Not Taken: A Narrative Inquiry of Science Appreciation among Non-STEM Students

This study was conducted to explore the science appreciation journeys of non-STEM students. Specifically, this study focused on how the participants’ significant life experiences led to their science appreciation and influenced their decision not to take a STEM track despite their science appreciation. Moreover, this research also explored how their experiences as non-STEM students shape their plans in the future and what reflections we can have on their stories of science appreciation as an unpursued path. The study followed the narrative inquiry design of the qualitative research method. An interview guide, aligned with the research sub-questions and validated by an expert, was used to collect the participants’ narratives and stories, which helped answer the study’s central question. Also, the researcher followed the research protocols to protect human subjects. The study’s trustworthiness was managed, so the results became confirmable, transferrable, dependable, and credible. Since this study explored the science appreciation journeys of purposefully selected non-STEM students, nonprobability sampling, purposeful sampling, and criterion sampling were used because these were the most suitable sampling techniques and allowed the researcher to gain insights and learn about the phenomenon. The population being studied comprised non-STEM students in Metro Manila. The main criterion for the sampling was the participant should have shown science appreciation and be currently enrolled in a non-STEM strand or track in the Senior High School. The study found that the participants’ appreciation of science through intra-curricular and extra-curricular experiences through practical science applications. Also, family, peers, and resources are the main factors influencing the participants’ decision not to pursue a STEM strand. Thus, having scientific discussions, motivation to pursue a dream college course, and science-related tasks in a non-STEM environment contribute to participants’ shaping plans. Moreover, participants still possess science appreciation even though they did not pursue a STEM strand because they have scientific values that they can apply to conserve the environment. Furthermore, this study recommends providing learning opportunities where students can still exercise their interests in science. In addition, assisting learners on which path to take, either science or non-science-related, through career exploration programs is essential. Similarly, with parental involvement, intensifying career guidance programs to ensure learners have the liberty to decide their future must be done. Furthermore, future researchers are encouraged to make parallel studies focusing on the limitations of this study.

Keywords: Appreciation of science, Narrative inquiry, qualitative research, non-STEM learners