Growth in the US Latinx population has outpaced the Latinx growth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees and occupation, further widening the ethnic gap in STEM. Mathematics has often identified as a bottleneck keeping many youth, especially minoritized youth, from pursuing STEM studies. Unequal opportunities to develop powerful math assets explain differences in math skills and understanding often experienced by minoritized youth. Implementing culturally responsive practices (CRP) in afterschool programs has the potential to promote math skills and motivation for youth from minoritized groups. However, extensive research is needed to understand which culturally responsive informal pedagogical practices (CIPPs) are most impactful and why. This project aims to identify and document such practices, shed light on the challenges faced by afterschool staff in implementing them, and develop training resources for afterschool staff to address these challenges. This project is funded by the 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.
The fundamental research questions addressed by the project focus on (1) which CIPPs matter most in the context of a STEM university-community partnership engaging Latinx youth, and (2) in what context(s) and under what conditions do these CIPPs relate to positive outcomes for both youth participants and college mentor/facilitator. A third aim is to build capacity of afterschool staff for implementing CIPPs in informal STEM afterschool programs. The first two aims are addressed through a mixed-methods research study which includes quantitative surveys and qualitative in-depth interviews with five cohorts of adolescent participants, parents, and undergraduate mentors. Each year, surveys will be collected from adolescents and mentors at four time points during the year; the in-depth interviews will be collected from adolescents, parents, and mentors in the spring. In total, 840 adolescents and 210 mentors will be surveyed; and 87 adolescents, 87 parents, and 87 mentors will be interviewed. The third aim will be addressed by leveraging the research findings and the collective knowledge developed by practitioners and researchers to create a public archive containing documentation of CIPPs for informal STEM afterschool programs and training modules for afterschool staff. The team will disseminate these resources extensively with informal afterschool practitioners in California and beyond. Ultimately, this project will lead to improved outcomes for minoritized youth in informal STEM afterschool programs across the nation, and increased representation of minoritized youth in STEM pursuits.
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