Alignment of Hands-on STEM Engagement Activities with Positive STEM Dispositions in Secondary School Students
This study examines positive dispositions reported by middle school and high school students participating in programs that feature STEM-related activities. Middle school students participating in school-to-home hands-on energy monitoring activities are compared to middle school and high school students in a different project taking part in activities such as an after-school robotics program. Both groups are compared and contrasted with a third group of high school students admitted at the eleventh grade to an academy of mathematics and science. All students were assessed using the same science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) dispositions instrument. Findings indicate that the after-school group whose participants self-selected STEM engagement activities, and the self-selected academy of mathematics and science group, each had highly positive STEM dispositions comparable to those of STEM professionals, while a subset of the middle school whole-classroom energy monitoring group that reported high interest in STEM as a career, also possessed highly positive STEM dispositions comparable to the STEM Professionals group. The authors conclude that several different kinds of hands-on STEM engagement activities are likely to foster or maintain positive STEM dispositions at the middle school and high school levels, and that these highly positive levels of dispositions can be viewed as a target toward which projects seeking to interest mainstream secondary students in STEM majors in college and STEM careers, can hope to aspire. Gender findings regarding STEM dispositions are also reported for these groups.
Keywords: STEM dispositions, Positive outcomes, Secondary school level
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