Methods

A quantitative survey was chosen as Lily's main research instrument, in order to get comprehensive data for large groups of students and enable comparisons between genders as well as between subgroups of STEM students and between STEM and non-STEM students.

Development of the questionnaire took place spring 2008, and the instrument was tested with student interviews and focus groups to ensure validity.

In August-September 2008, pen-and-paper questionnaires were administered to 6030 new (freshmen) students of STEM subjects and 3169 selected non-STEM subjects in almost all Norwegian public universities and university colleges. Later in the autumn of 2008, similar questionnaires were administered to 4011 students in upper secondary school

The questionnaire asked for educational background, sources of inspiration for the choice of education, expectations for the education and for future job, etc. Most questions were closed with a 4-point Likert scale; some were open, allowing respondents to express views and experiences in their own words.

The different Lily projects

Individual Ph.D students and researchers associated with the Lily project pursue various aspects of Lily's research aims in more detail. Most of these projects involve additional data collection, mostly of qualitative data. Projects as of September 2010:

Ph.D. student Marianne Løken focuses on young women in male-dominated STEM educations. In fall 2009 she collected 17 written stories from women that have chosen tertiary STEM education with a low proportion of women. Using qualitative methods she wants to show that women in STEM fields represent many different stories.

Ph.D. student Jørgen Sjaastad's research project aims to understand how role models and "significant others" affect educational choices. He uses quantiative data from Lily, and in addition he has done focus groups with students engaged in the ENT3R project, which is a mentoring project in mathematics aimed at students in secondary school.

Ph.D. student Maria Vetleseter Bøe studies adolescents' choice of mathematics and science subjects in upper secondary school. With a version of the Lily questionnaire adjusted for upper secondary school students she has collected data from 1700 students. In her project she wants to understand what motivates the students' subject choices and how this knowledge can be used to improve recruitment to STEM subjects.

Researcher Fredrik Jensen is studying similarities and differences in students' responses in Lily across different universities and university colleges. He aims to see if students in different institutions have different motivation for their STEM choice, and what local recruitment initiatives seem to be successful. He has also collected focus group data on four recruitment initiatives.

Ph.D. student Helge Brovold works at the RENATE centre and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and is associated with the Lily project. His project aims to understand why some students opt out of their STEM education.