20 SES 04 A, Developing Collaborative Inclusive and Intercultural Practice
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has been considered a critical topic for researchers in the last decade because of its role in the global economic welfare. Recent studies have underlined the critical relationship between STEM workforce pool in the European nations and K-12 STEM education that promotes the preparation of the next generations as successful scientists and innovators (Boe, Henriksen, Lyons, & Schreiner, 2011; Reis, Patrocinio, & Lourtie, 2012).
However, thus far, the education system used in the western world countries (i.e., European countries and the Americas) has not been successful in preparing students to acquire the skills let alone compete against other developed countries as seen in the results of the Program for International Student Assessment [PISA] competitions (OECD, 2010). Therefore, policy makers, researchers, and educators from all around the world have started developing and assessing the effects of different STEM curricula, afterschool programs, summer camps, and informal learning environments to increase the number of students pursuing degrees in STEM (Holmegaard, Madsen, & Ulriksen, 2012; Maltese & Tai, 2010).
Informal learning environments (i.e., intensive summer programs) have a critical potential to improve citizens’ STEM literacy level and encourage students to have future careers in STEM areas. Ricks (2006) noted that students who had informal learning experiences developed greater confidence in their STEM abilities, which led them to pursue STEM college majors, and increased their motivation to pursue STEM careers (Weber, 2011). Moreover, hands-on informal learning opportunities increased student engagement, achievement, and interest in the presented concepts (Ricks, 2006; Singh, Granville, & Dika, 2002). This is because learners voluntarily attend informal learning environments while being intrinsically motivated to participate (Ricks, 2006).
Students’ motivation and interest level is a vital component for deep and meaningful learning. Students who had a high level of interest and motivation had significant improvements in their high-order learning (Kern & Carpenter, 2007). Similarly, it was found that students’ positive feelings and perceptions of science in the early grades resulted in greater interest in science classes and also that students with positive feelings and perceptions and who presented early interest in science had greater future participation in science (Joyce & Farenga, 1999). In contrast, students who had low attitude levels toward science were more likely to dropout of advanced science classes and in turn did not want to pursue a future career in science areas. Thus, promoting students’ interest in STEM based learning environments in order to positively increase their feelings, beliefs, and values about disciplines, issues, or responses about STEM phenomena is an important action that needs to be taken into consideration.
In this study, researchers are interested in examining students’ attitudes toward science (“S” in STEM) in informal learning environments. Thus, we will seek answers to the following questions:
- Does participation in summer camp increase the aspirations of students towards aspects of science?
- Is there a difference in attitude toward science between male and female students, students of various ethnicities, and students of various ages who participate in summer camp?
Bøe, M. V., Henriksen, E. K., Lyons, T., & Schreiner, C. (2011). Participation in science and technology: Young people’s achievement related choices in late modern societies. Studies in Science Education, 47(1), 37-72. Fraser, B. J.(1978). Development of a test of science-related attitudes. Science Education, 62, 509-515. Holmegaard, H. T., Madsen, L. M., & Ulriksen, L. (2012). To choose or not to choose science: Constructions of desirable identities among young people considering a STEM higher education programme. International Journal of Science Education, 1-30. Joyce, B. A., & Farenga, S. J. (1999). Informal science experience, attitudes, future interest in science, and gender of high-ability students: An exploratory study. School Science and Mathematics, 99(8), 431-437. Kern, E. L., & Carpenter, J. R. (1986). Effect of field activities on student learning. Journal of Geological Education, 34, 180–183. Maltese, A. V., & Tai, R. H. (2010). Eyeballs in the fridge: Sources of early interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 32(5), 669–685. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). PISA 2009 results: Executive summary. Retrieved http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/46619703.pdf Reis, A., Patrocinio, C., & Lourtie, P. (2012). Gender issues in attracting students to science, technology and engineering higher education. Proceedings of 40th annual conference of Gender and Ethnicity in Engineering Education, Thessaloniki, Greece, 268-269. Ricks, M. M. (2006). A study of the impact of an informal science education program on middle school students' science knowledge, science attitude, STEM high school and college course selections, and career decisions (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from UT electronic thesis and dissertations. Singh, K., Granville, M. & Dika, S. (2002). Mathematics and science achievement: Effects of motivation, interest, and academic engagement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(6), 323-332. Weber, K. (2011). Role models and informal STEM-related activities positively impact female interest in STEM. Technology & Engineering Teacher, 71(3), 18-21.
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