Exploring the personal characteristics of people who work in STEM.
What are the characteristics, or attributes, needed by people who work in STEM?
Working with teachers and STEM workers, NUSTEM have developed a list of 16 STEM attributes that are often shown by people who work in STEM. They can be thought of as employability skills.
These are attributes that children may already have. Focussing on attributes that children have, or can develop, helps to build a bridge between children’s self-concept of themselves, and their concept of scientists and others who work in STEM. By discussing science topics and STEM careers in terms of these attributes, we are encouraging children and young people to see themselves as having the skills to work in STEM.
Collaborative people work together with others.
If you show commitment, you stick with an activity and try your hardest to make it happen.
Communicators are good at sharing information and ideas with other people.
Creative people make new things and have original ideas.
If you are curious, you want to learn new things.
Hard-working people put all of their effort into finishing activities and projects.
If you are imaginative you can think of new and interesting ideas.
Logical people can solve problems by thinking through them in a sensible order. They understand how one action can lead to another.
If you are observant you are quick to see things, you are able to spot fine details, and you are good at paying attention.
Open-minded people are willing to listen to new ideas and respect other people’s views and opinions.
Organised people are good at planning to make sure that they finish things.
Passionate people have strong feelings about things that interest them.
If you are patient, you are able to stay calm when faced with problems.
Resilient people can quickly recover from difficult or challenging situations.
Self-motivated people like to do things for themselves without being told how to do them.
The definitions are written to be accessible for children and young people aged between 6 and 15 (with adult support for the younger children).
We’ve also done some research with STEM professionals to find out what attributes they feel have helped them be successful in their jobs. We also asked them how well they thought the NUSTEM attributes fitted them.
We found that there were a broad range of attributes, but that they could be clustered into groups which included the 15 NUSTEM attributes. Other groups included subject knowledge and being a good colleague.
You can read more about our research in our paper.
As a result of our research we combined two attributes when talking with children. These were resilient and tenacious – when we were doing our data analysis, we found that the words related to these two attributes couldn’t consistently be sorted by the team. Knowing that resilience is a quality which schools regularly talk to children about, we removed ‘tenacious’ from the original set of 16 words to give 15 words which could be clearly defined when talking to children, young people and teachers.
Some of the earlier sets of STEM Person of the Week use both of these terms.