Evaluating STEM Scouts: The Design of a Comprehensive Evaluation Plan and Feasibility Study
Informal STEM education needs high quality program evaluation. Research is particularly needed on the relationship between STEM outcomes and positive youth development (PYD) / socio-emotional learning (SEL). This pilot and feasibility project involves a collaboration between experts in STEM education, out-of-school time programs (OST), PYD, SEL, evaluation, and program development. STEM Scouts helps youth grow in character and develop skills using experiential activities and interaction with STEM professionals. This project expands the implementation of the Systems Evaluation Protocol (SEP), an evidence-based approach to evaluation planning.
The goals are to: 1) develop a theory of change for STEM Scouts highlighting the relationship between STEM outcomes and PYD/SEL outcomes; 2) pilot enhancements to the SEP (System Mapping, Ecosystem Modeling, and Model Validation); and, 3) determine the feasibility of conducting a national STEM Scouts study. STEM Scouts leadership and project researchers will work through the SEP to generate a stakeholder map, logic model, and pathway model (PM). Five STEM Scouts Labs across the country will participate in focus groups where they will complete SM to identify the system in which the Lab exists (e.g., stakeholders and decision-makers), review and revise their system maps, identify key outcomes and connections in the PM, and discuss how the PM reflects their STEM Scouts experiences. It is hypothesized the enhanced SEP will enable the working group to better understand factors hindering or enabling program and evaluation feasibility and success. Findings will be disseminated to the evaluation/research community, OST program providers/developers and the public.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.
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