Currently, many young people - especially girls and youth of color - lose confidence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) pathways due to a perceived disconnect between their own identity and STEM fields. To address this challenge, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is implementing SciGirls CONNECT2. This three-year Research in Service to Practice award examines how gender equitable and culturally responsive teaching strategies influence middle school girls' confidence, interest and motivation around STEM studies, and their choices around STEM careers. A set of research-based strategies, called the SciGirls Seven, are currently employed in SciGirls, an NSF-funded informal STEM educational outreach program serving 125+ educational partner organizations nationwide. The goal is to update and enrich the SciGirls Seven, providing educators with a critical, current, and more effective resource to motivate girls in STEM studies and careers. It 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.
Florida State University will conduct a formal research study investigating the hypothesis that STEM programs that use gender equitable and culturally responsive strategies contribute to girls' positive STEM identity development, including their sense of self-efficacy, persistence and aspirations around future STEM careers. This research will include a literature review and a study of girls' STEM identity creation. The mixed methods study will include quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis measuring changes in students' STEM identity and teachers' confidence in STEM teaching. The quantitative data will come from the student, parent and teacher pre/post surveys. The qualitative research will be conducted via case studies at four sites and the qualitative data will include observations, focus groups and interviews. Girls at all partner sites will create videos that will allow the research team to gather additional insight. The independent firm Knight Williams, Inc. will conduct the project's external evaluation.
The project will work with a subset of 16 current SciGirls partners. These geographically diverse partners will reach youth in all-girls and co-ed informal STEM education programs in a variety of settings. More than half serve Hispanic or other minority populations. The updated strategies will be disseminated to the 2,500 educators within the SciGirls partner network and the 18,800 STEM education organizations of the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) network. Dissemination of the strategies and literature review will focus on the informal STEM education field through publications and presentations, posts at PBS LearningMedia, a free online space reaching 1.5 million teachers and educators.
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