My STEM Story: Scaling STEM Motivation Through Digital Storytelling and Near Peer Relationships
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by developing and testing a novel approach to near-peer mentoring. High school students will use videography to capture their conversations with undergraduate students about their academic struggles and successes in science. The goal is for the digital storytelling videos to bring to life the experiences students from underrepresented groups have in their pursuit of careers in STEM fields. The project is based on the premise that interactions between undergraduate students and high school proteges having similar backgrounds and social experiences have potential to benefit both students in the near peer mentoring relationship as well other high school students who view the videos within teacher-guided settings. The digital storytelling approach is expected to promote positive attitudes toward science, interests in science disciplines, and intentions to pursue education pathways to science-related careers. In particular, it is anticipated that the approach will contribute to broadening the participation of students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM-related education pathways and career domains. The project will examine the extent to which the planned creative and reflective video experiences generate interests in pathways to STEM careers more effectively than traditional, academically focused approaches. It is hypothesized that the digital storytelling videos highlighting core themes such as overcoming personal struggles and institutional barriers, learning from mistakes, dispelling misconceptions about scientists and science careers, and the reality of being a young person of color interested in science, can effectively promote positive attitudes toward science and intentions to pursue STEM-related careers.
This project is guided by four research questions: (1) For high school proteges co-constructing digital storytelling videos, does the project intervention influence students' possible future selves as well as the proximal outcomes of: (a) Positive attitudes toward science, (b) Greater interest in science, and (c) Greater intentions to pursue science pathways? (2) In a broader sample of high school students in science classrooms, does the project intervention succeed in influencing students' possible future selves and subsequent proximal outcomes? (3) What are the themes-both predicted and unanticipated-that are portrayed in the digital storytelling videos? What are the key elements that students find personally meaningful or memorable? (4) Do the intervention effects vary as a function of level of viewer engagement with the digital storytelling videos, specific themes portrayed in the videos, and/or individual student-level characteristics? And (5) Is the intervention feasible and usable in schools? Does it show promise for scaling? The project will begin with intervention design and recruitment of students and teachers, followed by a feasibility pilot test using a mixed-methods case study. An efficacy field test will then be conducted using a small-scale group-randomized design, with schools randomized into one of three conditions: full intervention, partial intervention without live video-chat, and partial intervention with informational videos rather than digital storytelling videos produced by participating students. Outcome measures will be administered before the intervention, immediately after the intervention, and six months after the intervention.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.