The ITEST program has enabled creativity, experimentation, and cultural responsiveness in STEM education and workforce development and broadened participation in STEM initiatives to Native American communities, underresourced urban communities, girls, and populations underrepresented in STEM fields. By approaching research and evaluation with flexibility and resourcefulness, the authors provide empirical evidence for the value of innovative approaches to STEM education that promote STEM interest and career-related outcomes and that build the foundational skills of the scientific and engineering workforce of the future.
This paper focuses on the notable heightening of underrepresented students’ engagement in STEM education through project-based learning CincySTEM iTEST projects. The projects, funded by an iTEST NSF grant, were designed and facilitated by teachers at a new STEM urban public high school serving low-income African-American students. Student engagement conceptualized as a psychological process involving affective and behavioral participation in classroom activities was evaluated through a mixed-methods approach.