Motivating Youth Through Authentic, Meaningful and Purposeful Activities: An Examination Through the Lens of Transformative Activist Stance
An ongoing and at times seemingly intractable issue in science education and STEM fields is the underperformance and underrepresentation of marginalized youth. This is often attributed to disconnect between school in general, school science specifically and the cultures that youth enact and experience in their daily lives. Although research demonstrates that youth become engaged in STEM when it is relevant to their well-being and that of their community, the question of what motivates underrepresented youth to pursue STEM interests is still not fully understood. This white paper argues for framing program development, evaluation and research within a transformative activist stance. Such approaches give voice to youths’ perspectives on how and why they participate in STEM programs, enabling the design of youth-centered STEM programs that more effectively develop and sustain interest in STEM careers and pursuits.