Broadening Participation of Latina/o Students in Engineering Using an Integrated Mathematics, Engineering and Computing Curriculum in Authentic, Out-of-School Environments
An integrated curriculum combines middle school mathematics and computer programming to engage 120 Latina/o middle school students, 4 teachers from urban and rural schools in New Mexico, and 10 undergraduate students to learn authentic STEM practices.
The goals of the project are to motivate the participation of middle school students in urban and rural settings to pursue STEM and computing (STEM+C) careers. The project will develop an integrated curriculum that supports the learning of computing and engineering fundamentals through the underlying mathematics concepts. The after-school learning experiences focus on authentic work of computer engineers, student learning about computer programming, engineering design, and mathematics concepts. The middle schools in the study have high enrollment of Latina/o students, a population which is under-represented in STEM majors in college and in STEM careers in the United States. Student learning and their attitudes toward and interests in STEM+C careers will make up the core focus of the research. The STEM+Computing Partnership (STEM+C) program seeks to advance multidisciplinary integration of computing in STEM teaching and learning through applied research and development across one or more domains; integration of STEM in computer science; and broadening participation in computer science. Investments are made in critical areas of pedagogy, pre-service and in-service teacher professional development. This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
The project will address research questions that investigate student learning about engineering, mathematics and computer programming practices and concepts. The questions examine how the experience and resources can be designed to help students collaborate on programming tasks and learn about STEM+C related careers. The research design incorporates quantitative and qualitative data. The baseline data for students will document their knowledge, attitudes, and motivation related to computational thinking, mathematics and engineering. Subsequent data collection will document their work with a focus on their learning and engagement in computer engineering and mathematics. The study will also collect data from undergraduate student facilitators, middle school student co-facilitators, and teachers to understand how learning environments can be designed to support student learning of computer engineering integrated with mathematics with a particular focus on Latina/o learners. Overall, the project results should inform further curriculum design for integrating mathematics, computing, and engineering in middle school settings and supporting Latina/o students' learning in these domains.