S-STEM Survey

Student Attitudes toward STEM Survey (S-STEM)

Non-NC State researchers and evaluators can request copies of the instruments by clicking on the Instrument Request Form link  and choosing the appropriate instruments. NC State K12 Outreach Providers should visit the NCSU partners page for further information about survey use and the implementation process.  Please feel free to contact the Project Coordinator with any questions.


The Upper Elementary (4-5th) and the Middle and High School (6-12th) Student Attitudes toward STEM Surveys (S-STEM) each contain four scales (sets of surveys items that most confidently describe a single characteristic of the survey-taker when the responses to these items are calculated as a single result). The first five scales consists of Likert-scale questions[1] which ask the respondent about their confidence and attitudes toward math, science, engineering and technology, and 21st century learning respectively. Final items in the surveys ask students about their attitudes toward 12 different STEM career areas, their performance expectations for themselves in the next year, whether or not they have plans to attend postsecondary school, and whether or not they know adults who work in STEM fields.


The surveys’ STEM constructs were adapted, in part, from a survey created by evaluators of a program at the engineering schools of Northeastern University, Tufts University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Boston University – the program was designed to increase female middle school students’ interest in engineering. The North Carolina Student Learning Conditions Survey provided the basis for the items measuring students’ confidence in their 21st century skills. Finally, the list of STEM subject career areas was derived from multiple national sources, including the National Academy for Engineering.

The instruments went through two rounds of revision. The second revised middle/high school version of the S-STEM Survey was administered to approximately 9,000 middle and high school students, with the upper elementary version administered to approximately 900 fourth and fifth graders. Using this response data, further validity and reliability tests were conducted. Factor analysis results showed strong, clear constructs with high reliability after dropping just a few items. Results from another round of subject-matter expert reviews demonstrated that both surveys were of appropriate length and at appropriate reading-levels. Differential item functioning analyses showed that 6th-12th graders comprehended the survey in similar ways and that female and male students differed slightly in their comprehension of the relationships between mathematics, science, and engineering and technology. References to peer review publications reporting on the development and statistical analysis of these instruments will be posted as they become available.   For more information on the psychometric properties, please see this summary of the  S-STEM Dev And Psychometric Properties  analyses and also this S-STEM Tips For Using Data.

Appropriate Uses

The Upper Elementary (4-5th) and Middle/High School (6-12th) S-STEM Surveys are intended to measure changes in students’ confidence and efficacy in STEM subjects, 21st century learning skills, and interest in STEM careers. The surveys are available to help program coordinators make decisions about possible improvements to their program.

Data and Reporting

The S- STEM surveys collect perceptive data (what respondents think or feel) from students regarding STEM content and careers. Responses are collected through an online system or paper and analyzed. Results reports provide pictures of aggregated participant attitudes.

Using the S-STEM Survey

The Friday Institute will grant you permission to use these instruments for educational, non-commercial purposes only. You may use an instrument as is, or modify it to suit your needs, but in either case you must credit its original source. By using this instrument you agree to allow the Friday Institute to use the data collected for additional validity and reliability analysis. The Friday Institute will take appropriate measures to maintain the confidentiality of all data.

Please fill out the Friday Institute Instrument Request Form to request copies of the surveys.


Recommended citation for the S-STEM survey:

Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (2012). Student Attitudes toward STEM Survey – Middle and High School Students, Raleigh, NC: Author.
Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (2012). Student Attitudes toward STEM Survey – Upper Elementary School Students, Raleigh, NC: Author.

The primary reference for the validation of the S-STEM survey is:

Unfried, A., Faber, M., Stanhope, D., & Wiebe, E. (2015). The development and validation of a measure of student attitudes toward science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(7), 622-639.

The development of this survey was partially supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1038154 and by the Golden LEAF foundation.


The framework for part of this survey was developed from the following sources:

Erkut, S., & Marx, F. (2005). 4 schools for WIE (Evaluation Report). Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College, Center for Research on Women. Retrieved April 5, 2012 from http://www.coe.neu.edu/Groups/stemteams/evaluation.pdf

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.


[1] Likert-scale survey items ask respondents to report the degree to which they agree or disagree with a given statement. All four scales ask respondents to rate their level of agreement on a five-point response-scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”