Journal of Science Education and Technology Special Issue - Stories from ITEST: Inspiring Young People to Pursue STEM Careers


For over a decade, the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program has funded researchers and educators to build an understanding of best practices, contexts, and processes contributing to K-12 students’ motivation and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities that lead to STEM career pathways. The outcomes from these projects have contributed significantly to the national body of knowledge about strategies, successes, models, and interventions that support and encourage youth to pursue STEM careers.

While the individual projects discussed in this special issue vary by geographic location, institution, populations served, primary focus, and topic, they are unified by ITEST’s programmatic intent and goals. This issue offers research-based insights into the knowledge generated by a decade of ITEST-funded work in STEM career development. The articles describe a multitude of approaches to project design, evaluation, and empirical research. Collectively, they contribute to the development of frameworks for STEM education and workforce development that are increasingly relevant for educators, project designers, researchers, and policy makers.

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.

1. Innovations and Challenges in Project-Based STEM Education: Lessons from ITEST
Authors: Alice Connors-Killgren, Caroline E. Parker, David Blustein, Mike Barnett
Project: STELAR Center

2. Measuring Student Career Interest within the Context of Technology-Enhanced STEM Projects: A Cross-Project Comparison Study Based on the Career Interest Questionnaire
Authors: Karen Peterman, Ruth Kermish-Allen, Gerald Knezek, Rhonda Christensen, Tandra Tyler-Wood
Projects: M-SOS-W: Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World; Going Green! Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World

3. Workforce Education Models for K-12 STEM Education Programs: Reflections on, and Implications for, the NSF ITEST Program
Authors: David Reider, Kirk Knestis, Joyce Malyn-Smith
Project: STELAR Center

4. Using Robotics and Game Design to Enhance Children’s Self-Efficacy, STEM Attitudes, and Computational Thinking Skills
Authors: Jacqueline Leonard, Alan Buss, Ruben Gamboa, Monica Mitchell, Olatokunbo S. Fashola, Tarcia Hubert, Sultan Almughyirah
Project: Visualization Basics: Using Gaming to Improve Computational Thinking (UGame-ICompute)

5. Middle School Engagement with Mathematics Software and Later Interest and Self-Efficacy for STEM Careers
Authors: Jaclyn Ocumpaugh, Maria Ofelia San Pedro, Huei-yi Lai, Ryan S. Baker, Fred Borgen
Project: Predicting STEM Career Choice from Computational Indicators of Student Engagement within Middle School Mathematics Classes

6. Preparing Students for Middle School Through After-School STEM Activities
Authors: Nancy P. Moreno, Barbara Z. Tharp, Gregory Vogt, Alana D. Newell, Christopher A. Burnett
Project: Middle School Science Readiness Program

7. Dragons, Ladybugs, and Softballs: Girls’ STEM Engagement with Human-Centered Robotics
Authors: Andrea Gomoll, Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Selma Šabanović, Matthew Francisco
Project: Human-Centered Robotics Experiences for Exploring Engineering, Computer Science, and Society

8. Students’ Perceptions of the Long-Term Impact of Attending a “CSI Science Camp”
Author: Karen Yanowitz
Project: CSI: Classroom Student Investigations

9. Preparing Teachers to Use GIS: The Impact of a Hybrid Professional Development Program on Teachers’ Use of GIS
Authors: Steven Moore, Don Haviland, William Moore, Michael Tran
Project: CoastLines

10. Motivating Young Native American Students to Pursue STEM Learning Through a Culturally Relevant Science Program
Authors: Sally Stevens, Rosi Andrade, Melissa Page
Project: An Innovative Hybrid Program For Diversifying And Building Capacity In The STEM/ICT Workforce: ISTEM

11. STEM Pathways: Examining Persistence in Rigorous Math and Science Course Taking
Authors: Shetay N. Ashford, Rheta E. Lanehart, Gladis K. Kersaint, Reginald S. Lee, Jeffrey D. Kromrey
Project: STELAR Center

12. Psychology of Working Narratives of STEM Career Exploration for Non-dominant Youth
Authors: Sheron L. Mark
Projects: Urban Ecology, Information Technology, and Inquiry Science for Students and Teachers; IT and College Pathways through Application of Technology to Explore Urban Ecological Challenges

13. Urban High School Student Engagement Through CincySTEM iTEST Projects
Authors: Gulbahar H. Beckett, Annette Hemmings, Catherine Maltbie, Kathy Wright, Melissa Sherman, Brian Sersion
Project: CincySTEM Urban Initiative

14. Designing the Game: How a Project-Based Media Production Program Approaches STEAM Career Readiness for Underrepresented Young Adults
Authors: Kristin M. Bass, Ingrid Hu Dahl, Shirin Panahandeh
Project: Advanced Digital Pathways

15. Opting in and Creating Demand: Why Young People Choose to Teach Mathematics to Each Other
Authors: Eli Tucker-Raymond, Naama Lewis, Maisha Moses, Chad Milner
Project: Bridging Math Literacy and Digital Media Creation: Students as Learners, Teachers, and Leaders of STEM

16. Curricular Influences on Female Afterschool Facilitators’ Computer Science Interests and Career Choices
Authors: Melissa Koch, Torie Gorges
Project: Broadening Participation by Building the Capacity of Afterschool Computer Science Educators: Reaching African American and Latina Women with the Build IT Curriculum

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Journal of Science Education and Technology Cover

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Caroline E. Parker
Alice Connors-Kellgran
David L. Blustein
Michael Barnett
Journal of Science Education and Technology
STEM Career Opportunities and Workforce Development
Publication Year
Additional Disciplines
Bioscience - general
Computer Science - general
Engineering - general
Environmental Science - general
Mathematics - general