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THE ROLE OF A SINGLE SEX INFORMAL EDUCATION PROGRAM ON YOUNG WOMENS LONG-TERM INTEREST AND PERSISTENCE IN STEM 2013 Annual Association for Science Teacher.

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Presentation on theme: "THE ROLE OF A SINGLE SEX INFORMAL EDUCATION PROGRAM ON YOUNG WOMENS LONG-TERM INTEREST AND PERSISTENCE IN STEM 2013 Annual Association for Science Teacher."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE ROLE OF A SINGLE SEX INFORMAL EDUCATION PROGRAM ON YOUNG WOMENS LONG-TERM INTEREST AND PERSISTENCE IN STEM 2013 Annual Association for Science Teacher Education Conference Charleston, SC Roxanne Hughes, Ph.D. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

2 WHY FOCUS ON WOMEN? Women represent less than 25% of physics and some engineering fields and yet represent 50% of the US population (NSF, 2011; US Census Bureau, 2010). Research on elementary school students demonstrates that girls and boys show similar levels of interest in STEM. As students move to middle school, a gender gap in interest begins to occur (AAUW, 2010; Miller, Blessing, & Schwartz, 2006; Shakeshaft, 1995; Spielhagen, 2008; Williams & Ceci, 2007). Research suggests that one explanation for this gender gap can be found in identity frameworks – young girls are less able to identify with STEM fields and therefore begin to lose interest (Brickhouse, Lowery, & Schultz, 2000; Carlone, 2003; Carlone & Johnson, 2007; Tan & Calabrese Barton, 2008).

3 EFFORTS TO IMPROVE GIRLS STEM IDENTITIES Exposure to female role models in STEM Exposure to relevant and hands-on activities in various STEM fields Often through informal STEM education efforts

4 SINGLE SEX PROGRAMS Some of these programs have manifested into single sex programming that focuses on girls in a single sex environment as a way to promote their confidence to express their interest in STEM (Spielhagen, 2008). Protests by ACLU and NOW who see these as discriminatory and not equal (Salomone, 2003). Yet the number has increased.

5 HOW THIS STUDY FITS WITHIN THE DEBATE Most studies on informal STEM education (and single sex) tend to focus on immediate impact (Barab & Hay, 2001; Bell, Blair, Crawford, & Lederman, 2003; Farland-Smith, 2012; Hay & Barab, 2001; Watermeyer & Stevenson, 2010) Longitudinal studies have shown mixed results in terms of impact (Demetry, Hubelbank, Blaisdell, Sontgerath, Nicholson, Rosenthal, & Quinn, 2009; Fadigan & Hammrich, 2004; Jayaratne, Thomas, & Trautmann, 2003). This study adds to the previous longitudinal studies by focusing on the impact of a single sex STEM informal education program on girls long term persistence in STEM as measured through: interest in STEM activities, understanding of science knowledge, reflection on science and the nature of science, engagement in scientific practices, and identity.

6 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK National Research Council report outlines six pieces to any assessment of informal STEM education programs (NRC, 2009). 1. Learners will experience excitement, interest, and motivation to learn about phenomena in the natural and physical world. 2. Learners come to generate, understand, remember, and use concepts, explanations, arguments, models, and facts related to science. 3. Learners manipulate, test, explore, predict, question, observe, and make sense of the natural and physical world. 4. Learners reflect on science as a way of knowing; on processes, concepts, and institutions of science; and on their own process of learning about phenomena 5. Learners participate in scientific activities and learning practices with others, using scientific language and tools 6. Learners think about themselves as science learners and develop an identity as someone who knows about, uses, and sometimes contributes to science (4) These six pieces were combined with research on STEM identity (Brickhouse, Lowery, & Schultz, 2000; Carlone, 2003; Carlone & Johnson, 2007) to analyze the data collected for this study.

7 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK NRC StrandHow it was measuredHow it relates to Identity framework Strand 1: STEM interest Measured through Likert and open-ended questions on pre/post/and follow up survey Also necessary for positive STEM identity development (Eccles, 2007; Hazari, Sonnert, Sadler, & Shanahan, 2010; Gilmartin, Denson, Li, Bryant, & Ashbacher, 2007), Strand 2: Understanding Science Knowledge Measured through Views of Nature of Science open ended questions on pre/post survey (Lederman, Abd-El- Khalick, Bell, & Schwartz, 2002). This portion relates to identity in that students must understand how scientific knowledge is developed and understood in order to determine whether they want to participate in it. Strand 3: Scientific reasoning Not measured Strand 4: Reflecting on Science and the nature of science Measured through Views of the Nature of Science (Lederman et al.) This portion relates to identity in that students must understand how scientific knowledge is developed and understood in order to determine whether they want to participate in it. Strand 5: Engagement in scientific practices Measured through pre/post/longitudinal survey questions asking about engagement in formal and informal STEM practices A marked increase in desire to participate in STEM practices immediately after camp showed improved interest – related to identity. Then continuous engagement over time demonstrates continued interest – and positive identity. Strand 6: Identity – ones perception of oneself as a potential scientist Measured through pre/post questions on self-efficacy, STEM attitudes, perceptions of STEM and STEM careers; Measured longitudinally through questions asking about perceptions of STEM and STEM careers and interest All of these aspects are related to identity development (Aschbacher, Li, & Roth, 2010; Eccles, 2007; Fadigan & Hammrich, 2004; Gilmartin et al., 2007; Hazari et al., 2010; Rittmayer & Beier, 2009).

8 THE GIRLS CAMP Began in 2006 with 16 girls (rising 6 th through 9 th graders) Since 2007 has included two camps for total of 32 girls (GIRLS I for rising 6 th and 7 th graders and GIRLS II for rising 8 th and 9 th graders) 2-week camp that exposes middle school girls to STEM careers through: hands-on activities that are relevant to their lives; opportunities to interact with female STEM professionals who can talk about their work and serve as possible role models; opportunities to engage in the process and community of science The camp is a fee-based camp, however, one-third of the spots are scholarship supported so that lower income students can participate

9 EXAMPLE OF CAMP ACTIVITIES ActivityHow Activity Fit within Goals of Camp Day 1 (AM) Tour of national laboratory facility where camp is housed. Tour guides included teachers and another educator familiar with laboratory (female and male teachers). Exposure to STEM: Showed participants multiple opportunities in STEM and the value each of these plays in research at the laboratory. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Showed types of opportunities at the lab within the larger community of science. Day 1 (PM) Water testing. The participants learn about the effects of pollutants on local waterways and the role of observation in research. They then test the pond behind laboratory and record data and discuss why these results could be this way (female teachers). Exposure to STEM: Participated in the process of science (collection and analysis of data) Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Day 2 (AM) Two representatives from the state Environmental Protection Agency and one representative from a local engineering firm, specializing in water testing led the girls on a hike on local trails. They discussed the ecosystem, the role of water, the type of waterways. The girls then tested the water at two locations. Discussed the ecosystem and its role in their data (1 male scientist, one female scientist, 1 female science graduate participants, 4 female teachers). Exposure to STEM: Participated in the process of science (data collection and analysis). Relevance of STEM: Saw the interconnectedness of water systems and why water quality is important for healthy ecosystems. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Saw scientists at work and learned about possible careers in STEM. Day 2 (PM) Tour of local waterway and ecosystem by marine biologist (female scientist)Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM Professionals Day 3Toured local animal shelter. The veterinarian took participants on tour, had them watch and assist in a spay surgery, during which she explained the importance of such processes, learned about various diseases that affect animals within pets and larger local ecosystems, and observed parasites under a microscope. At the end the veterinarian explained her life history as it relates to science and answered participants questions (female veterinarian and female veterinarian technician staff). Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Saw scientists at work and learned about possible careers in STEM. Day 4Toured local organic farm to learn about the role of pesticides on produce and how organic farms attempt to fit in with the local ecosystem. Discussed sustainability in organic farming and the science behind organic farming (i.e. soil and water testing, native species versus invasive species). (Male and female farmer.) Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM: Showed them science opportunities and applications beyond careers. Day 5Visited local marine laboratory facility. The participants learned differences between inference and observation, the role of the moon on the tides, and observed various species under the microscope. Then they snorkeled in a local marine waterway, observed various ecosystems (sea grass, oyster beds). The older girls also conducted a survey of mole crabs, measuring where they lived along the coast and counting the number of each sex and age. Then spoke with a female marine biologist and did a hands on activity related to her research, testing the best conditions for periwinkle snails to live. (Female facilitator with background in marine biology). Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM: Observed ways in which STEM careers can also be used in educative waysnot only within a research laboratory. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Saw scientists at work and learned about possible careers in STEM. Day 6Visited a local wolf preserve and learned about the role that science understanding can play in policy changes, like wolves presence on the endangered species list (owned by a female non-scientist). Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM: Showed them science opportunities and applications in policy. Day 7The girls worked in groups to analyze and create a presentation on the water testing data that they had collected throughout the camp. Participants were encouraged to make inferences based on their observations and data regarding the health of the local waterways (female teachers). Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM: Participated in the process of science (collection and analysis of data) Day 8Older girls listened to a presentation and various demonstrations by a female engineer who discussed her work with nanotechnology. After the presentation, the girls constructed nanotubes out of balloons and hula-hoops. In her discussion, the female engineer, related nanotechnology to items used by the girls (female engineer). The younger girls learned about water filtration and the design of man-made structures that would help purify water in local parks. Then the girls constructed their own filtration systems (three female engineers). Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives. Exposure to STEM: Learned about many different facets of engineering and the different types of engineering opportunities available. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Saw scientists at work and learned about possible careers in STEM. Day 9The girls visited a local quarry where they were able to explore and collect specimens of bone, teeth, fossils, and rocks. At the end of the day, they showed each other what they had found and the three scientists/engineers explained what it was and how they determined how old these specimens were (female geologist, male engineer, male paleontologist ). Exposure to STEM: The girls learn about the process of science (inferences and observations), challenging the conception of scientific theories as never changing objective truths. Exposure to STEM Professionals: Day 10Girls finalized their presentations.Relevance of STEM: Made the focus of the camp relevant to their daily lives.

10 RESEARCH METHODS Pre/post survey each camp: Quantitative: understanding of NOS (Lederman et al., 2002); STEM interest, attitudes toward STEM; perceptions of STEM careers and professionals; and self-efficacy in STEM (AWE, 2010). Qualitative: open ended questions Every three years a follow-up survey is ed to past participants (2009, 2012). STEM interest; perceptions of STEM professionals and careers; engagement in STEM.

11 CODING To determine STEM interest over time, the following questions were coded to determine level of STEM interest: favorite subject, career interest, college major. Students who identified a STEM subject as their favorite were given a STEM code. STEM career and major interests were categorized according to definite interest (it was specifically mentioned) or possible interest (it was one of many interests including non-STEM). The questions that attempted to understand how GIRLS affected participants interest over time were: How has your interest in STEM changed since participating in GIRLS? And, What effect do you think GIRLs has had on you? Responses were first coded to identify whether the camp has a positive impact. These responses fell into two categories: No change because already interested; increased interest in STEM. In terms of how the camp affected each person, there were five common themes that arose from the open-ended responses: learned more about STEM careers; improved confidence in pursuing STEM; improved team work and collaboration abilities; increased understanding of STEM and reduced stereotypes about STEM; and motivated student to pursue STEM.

12 PARTICIPANTS Campers who participated in one summer or more of the camp from 2006 to 2011 (n=144, 38 of these students participated two summers). Of the 144 unique individuals, 60 (42%) have responded to one or both follow up surveys The lead researcher has been a participant observe since 2007

13 DEMOGRAPHICS Demographics of All Campers Demographics of Follow-up Campers Race/ethnicityNPercent of total African American 2618% Asian American139% Hispanic75% White9868% Race/ethnici ty N in cohort Percent of Follow up cohort Percent represented by camp overall African Americans 1017%18% Asian Americans 35%9% Hispanic12%5% White4677%68% School TypeNPercent of total Public9264% Public Charter2014% Private2718% Home- schooled/Other 54% School typeN in cohortPercent of Follow up cohort Percent represented by camp overall Public3660%64% Public Charter 1017%14% Private1118% Home school 35%4%

14 BREAKDOWN OF RESPONDENTS Year of Camp Participant Represented by Longitudinal Cohort 2009 Grade levels at time of contact (n= 29) N in cohort Actual number who participated that year Response rate per year % % % % % % Grade LevelNumberPercent of total 6310% 7724% 8414% 9310% 10414% 11517% 12310% Grade LevelNumberPercent of total 6615% 7717% 81026% 9323% 10820% 1137% 1200% College Freshmen25% 2012 Grade levels at time of contact (n=39)

15 RESULTS OF LONGITUDINAL SURVEYS All of the respondents (n=60 distinct respondents not double counting those who responded in 2009 and 2012) were interested in STEM before coming to the camp as evidenced by their applications. Forty nine of these participants (88%) still listed a science or math course as one of their favorite courses in 2009 and/or 2012, demonstrating continued interest over time. All of the respondents mentioned a positive effect of the camp on their interest, understanding or motivation in STEM, providing evidence of the long-term benefits of the camp programming One of the most cited successful aspects of the program on continued interest was the opportunities the students had to interact with STEM professionals who introduced them to a variety of STEM careers through hands on activities.

16 SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED ASPECTS Effects of CampTallyPercent of Total (n=60) Increased interest in STEM60100% Learned about real-world applications of STEM2643% Learned about STEM careers2033% Motivated to take more advanced STEM courses915% Motivated to pursue STEM careers813% Improved concept that women can be successful in STEM 712% Increased confidence in STEM abilities610% Participated in and learned about collaboration as it relates to STEM 610% Increased understanding of STEM47%

17 VARYING EFFECTS OF CAMPS Increased interest in STEM, but may not be considering a STEM career: Due to GIRLS, I understand different sciences and how they interact with each other and society. I also have a broader perspective of how things work (2012 survey response from 2010/11 camper.) Despite not having an interest in a STEM career, this camper did learn more about STEM through participation in the camp. This meets the camp goals in that it exposed her to STEM and helped her develop a better understanding of STEM careers.

18 BETTER UNDERSTANDING Relevance to their own lives (43%) GIRLS allowed me to view different fields of science and explained in depth the complexity of science in everyday life (2012 response from 2007/08 camper). GIRLS reinforced my interest in science and it also made me realize that there was more to science than just what was taught in the school room (2009 response from 2007/08 camper). Better understanding of STEM careers (40%) Before GIRLS I didn't really know what a forensic scientist did or what a marine biologist did. But now that I have been exposed to those careers, I can make an educated decision about what I want to do when I grow up (2012 response from a 2007/08 camper).

19 BETTER UNDERSTANDING LEADS - FOR SOME - TO IMPROVED INTEREST. Fifty seven percent of the participants (n=34) were interested in a STEM career, with an additional 14% (n=8) listing it as a possibility at least two or more years after participating in camp. According to the respondents the camp motivated participants to pursue STEM careers by motivating them to take advanced STEM courses (n=9) and/or persist in a STEM career (n=8). GIRLS solidified that interest (2012 response from a 2009 camper) GIRLS opened my eyes to the kinds of careers I could have in science and confirmed my career goals (2009 response to a 2008 camper).

20 GENDER ASPECT The GIRLS program is unique in that it is a single sex camp that exposes girls to female STEM professionals along with hands on activities that improve their understanding of STEM. This gendered exposure was mentioned by seven participants. GIRLS showed me that it was possible for women to be scientists (2009 response from a 2007/08 camper). It just helped me know that this is what I want to do. Ever since I was 10 I wanted to be a chemist, but I didn't know any girl chemists. I met women in science thru GIRLS and I can now see they aren't just geeky women in white coats (2009 response from 2008 camper). GIRLS gave me a basis for my love of science. I had been to other science camps that also piqued my interest from a young age, but GIRLS was the first to show how women could be involved in science. Going to a science- focused university with a 60/40 ratio of men to women, it's exciting to see that the percentage of women in the sciences is increasing (2012 response from a 2007 camper). The fact that this young woman still remembers her experience and can credit that experience as influencing her STEM career trajectory speaks to the effect of exposing young women to female role models in STEM

21 UNINTENDED POSITIVE EFFECTS Not directly part of the mission of the camp but positive nonetheless: Increased confidence (n=6) and improved abilities to work as a team member (n=6). These results were only cited by students within one year of completing the program This could indicate that these effects immediate rather than longitudinal effects of the camp and its structure. One 2007/08 camper described the camps impact on her confidence in succeeding in STEM, GIRLS has definitely given me more confidence that I want to get a job in science. It has also made me set higher goals for myself (2009 response from a 2007/08 camper). Similarly other students expressed that they learned what it was like to collaborate as a scientist (2012 response from 2011 camper).

22 DECLINE IN STEM INTEREST Some participants described a decline in their STEM interest since participating in GIRLS, crediting this decline to experiences outside of the camp For example, one participant explained, I was really on fire for it [STEM] after GIRLS- but it started to decline once Physics came in (2012 response from a 2006 camper). And another discussed how she felt like she was not good at science and math in school believing that school was ruining [her] interest in STEM (2009 response from a 2006/07 camper). This is an interesting finding to follow up with in more depth.

23 LIMITATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS We realize that we cannot directly connect GIRLS to the young womens continued interest (or lack thereof), but we can demonstrate that this program is just one of hopefully many that can add to STEM persistence over time. To better highlight identity trajectories, in-depth follow up with these participants and their families is required. Interviews with these participants and their families could highlight changes over time and better explain how identity is affected by both informal science education and formal science education. Despite this piece, the present study adds to the literature in that it demonstrates that participation in informal science education programs were still mentioned by participants years after the participation, thereby indicating that these experiences still had some effect on some of the participants. Some might argue that the self-selection issues (students were already interested in STEM when they applied to the camp) might detract from these findings. However, underrepresented minority students (particularly girls) tend to lose interest in STEM from middle school to college, despite having a high interest in elementary school. Therefore, programs that maintain that interest and expose adolescent girls to STEM careers are important to improving the number of girls who stay in the STEM pipeline.

24 REFERENCES American Association of University Women. (2010, February). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Report). Washington, DC: Author. Aschbacher, P.R., Li, E., & Roth, E.J. (2010). Is science me? High school students identities, participation and aspirations in science, engineering, and medicine. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(5), Barab, S.A. & Hay, K.E. (2001). Doing science at the elbows of experts: Issues related to the science apprenticeship camp. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(1), Bell, R.L., Blair, L.M., Crawford, B.A., & Lederman, N.G. (2003). Just do it? Impact of a science apprenticeship program on high school students understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(5), Brickhouse, N.W., Lowery, P., & Schultz, K. (2000). What kind of girl does science? The construction of school science identities. 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