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Young student doing science work

Motivation in science among students with learning disabilities

Research project

Quick facts

Director/PI: Principal Investigator Samantha Daley

Collaborators: Postdoctoral researcher Halil Ibrahim Sari, a faculty member from the Muallim Rifat College of Education in Turkey, joined the project in 2022 to support data collection and analysis of quantitative data

Funding: National Science Foundation CAREER program

Related projects: Intrinsic motivation in science museums: Learning from and broadening participation of visitors with learning disabilities


This National Science Foundation Career-funded project leads an integrated program of research and education that aims to broaden the participation and success of students with disabilities in advanced science coursework and STEM careers. Specifically, the project focuses on the motivational beliefs of middle and high school students with learning disabilities, a largely neglected but likely powerful influence on whether a student decides to pursue science.

The five-year research takes place in three phases and includes an educational plan that will benefit a diverse audience involved in widening the participation and persistence in STEM coursework and career progression for students with learning disabilities. In one phase, national data is being analyzed to investigate the relationship between motivational beliefs of high school students with learning disabilities and subsequent pursuit of advanced science coursework and careers. In another phase, a mixed-methods study with middle school students with learning disabilities investigates how science instructional experiences shape motivational beliefs. Lastly, a separate phase focuses on the teacher perspective, working with a group of experienced science educators to understand teachers’ perceptions of learning disabilities and to co-develop practical resources for use in science classrooms. 

Read the press release on the motivation in science among students with learning disabilities project.