TESLA is a research project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education investigating the relationship between technology-based motivational activities and student interest in careers in STEM professions.
The President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) put out a report this year stating that, in addition to the well-known achievement gap between some groups of students, there is also a significant interest gap. Even among highly proficient math and science students, many are pursuing careers outside of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. What’s happening? Although there are many explanations for this lack of interest, we at Project TESLA believe that motivation lies at the heart of this problem.
We have created technology-based activities that immerse students in a virtual world, exposing them to scenarios that require the same types of problem-solving skills STEM professionals employ on a daily basis. By designing virtual worlds that target specific motivation constructs (e.g., self-efficacy), we hope to ignite students’ motivation to pursue STEM careers.