Exploring the Link Between STEM Activity Leader Practice and Youth Engagement: Findings from the STEM IE Study

December 31st, 2018 | RESEARCH

The STEM Interest and Engagement (STEM IE) Study was a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation under the auspices of its Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program that was designed to better understand what types of practices, supports, and opportunities afforded to early adolescent youth: (1) Are especially effective in helping youth experience in-the-moment engagement while participating in ISL activities, and (2) Serve to support growth in STEM interest and aspirations. The study was conducted in a total of nine, STEM-oriented, summer learning programs serving early adolescent youth from low-income communities. In order to answer the study’s research questions, steps were taken to collect data on youth’s in-the-moment experiences using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). In addition, while ESM data were being collected, steps were being taken to videotape the programming being offered at the time the signal was issued. These data allowed the research team to compare the type of learning environments being provided to youth as well as the practices and approaches being employed by activity leaders with the direct, in-the-moment experiences of participating youth, allowing for a very direct and real-time assessment of the relationship between practice and youth experience. From a practice standpoint, episode quality as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), statements made by activity leaders to demonstrate the relevance of STEM content, and providing youth with opportunities to experience a sense of agency while undertaking program activities were all found to be related to engagement.



Team Members

Neil Naftzger, Principal Investigator, American Institutes for Research
Jennifer Schmidt, Co-Principal Investigator, Michigan State University
Lee Shumow, Co-Principal Investigator, Northern Illinois University
Patrick Beymer, Project Staff, Michigan State University
Joshua Rosenberg, Project Staff, Michigan State University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Advancing Informal STEM Learning
Award Number: DRL-1421198
Funding Amount: $1,315,359

Related URLs

STEM Interest and Engagement Study


Access and Inclusion: Low Socioeconomic Status
Audience: Educators | Teachers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps