Trends | Increasing Equity and Awareness With Online STEM Programs

CREDIT CareerinSTEM.jpgTo address the high demand and current shortage of STEM workers (Maltese & Tai, 2011), CareerInSTEM initiated a pilot online summer camp to equip diverse learners with the knowledge needed for a meaningful, rewarding future as a STEM professional. The intent of this pilot program was to expose students to a variety of STEM careers and provide hands-on practice of what professionals “do” in each career. Delivered 100 percent online, the program was facilitated by licensed STEM teachers in collaboration with STEM professionals. 51 students joined from 11 different states, as well as two from Nicaragua. Below are key findings of the pilot study (post-test only design):

  • 100 percent would recommend the program to a friend
  • 92 percent reported increased confidence in knowing where to learn more about STEM careers
  • 100 percent agreed that the program helped them learn more about STEM careers

The program also ran on-campus at Central CT State University. While nearly identical (content, ages served, facilitated by a licensed science teacher), the online program ranked equivalent or higher on all measures in the student post-survey. This is an interesting finding, and underscores the potential of online STEM programs as a viable option to scale up access to STEM career preparation. —Ashley Pereira, MS Ed. Write to: pereiraa@easternct.edu

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