Attracting students to STEM: Obstructors and facilitators

Sohailah Alyammahi, Rachad Zaki, Hassan Barada, Yousof Al-Hammadi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper aims to measure students' level of interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the main focus is on students in grades 9 to 12. Essentially, the goal is to understand the factors behind students' choice of STEM or non-STEM academic tracks. Public and private school students in STEM and non-STEM academic programs participated in the research through responding to surveys gauging students' outlooks on what influenced their choices of going to, or away from, STEM. The data collected revealed a number of reasons that make students like, or dislike, scientific majors. These reasons include the presence or absence of capable teachers, the choice of the teaching language and the impact of professional STEM role models. This paper also focuses on the differences in results between public and private institutions, male and female students, as well as nationals and non-nationals. Furthermore, it compares the findings to similar research done in other countries, within the Arab region and beyond. We show that several factors remain valid in most countries and education systems whereas others are specific to each of them. Finally, the paper makes recommendations on how to build upon the perceived successes and downfalls of the research's methodology and it suggests methods on how to increase successful STEM enrollment and competency.

Original languageBritish English
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2016 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference, EDUCON 2016
Subtitle of host publication"Smart Education in Smart Cities"
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781467386333
StatePublished - 19 May 2016
Event2016 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference, EDUCON 2016 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 10 Apr 201613 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameIEEE Global Engineering Education Conference, EDUCON
ISSN (Print)2165-9559
ISSN (Electronic)2165-9567


Conference2016 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference, EDUCON 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
CityAbu Dhabi


  • Engineering
  • Grade K-12
  • STEM
  • Survey
  • UAE


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