This REU Site award to TERC, located in Cambridge, MA, will support the training of eight students for ten weeks during the summers of 2023-2025. Students will perform research in the field of informal STEM education. Their projects will have a theme of advancing social justice and equity. The social justice theme aims to attract students to STEM education research, as evidence suggests students value working toward equity and social change. Students will conduct independent research projects and will learn appropriate research methods. Student supports will include mentoring, networking, peer relationships, research communications practice, and seminar participation. These professional development offerings will incorporate social justice approaches. Student research results may potentially contribute to the knowledge base of broadening participation in informal STEM learning.
Through their independent research projects, graduated supports, and culturally responsive mentoring, the project has potential to impact participants abilities to make gains in the development of independent research skills, especially social justice-informed research methods, and gain awareness of ethics and related careers while developing an identity as an educational researcher. Students who are rising juniors and seniors majoring in STEM, STEM education, or a social science discipline will be recruited nationally. To specifically reach students underrepresented in STEM, recruitment will leverage TERC's network of national STEM organizations that support these populations as well as local educational institutions. The annual application deadline will be in mid-January, and participants will be selected based on their limited opportunities for similar research at their home institutions and aspirations to enter the STEM education field. Outcomes of the three cohorts will be evaluated based on self-assessment and observed growth as emergent researchers in response to mentoring and professional development. Students will be tracked after the project in order to determine student career paths. Students will be asked to respond to an automatic email sent via the NSF reporting system.
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