This paper describes the design, implementation and research of the Cyber Sleuth Science Lab (CSSL), an innovative educational program and supporting virtual learning environment, that combines pedagogical theory, gender inclusive instruction strategies, scientific principles/practices, gamification methods, computational thinking, and real-world problem solving. This program provides underrepresented youth, especially girls, with digital forensic knowledge, skills and career pathways, challenging them to explore complex social issues related to technology and to become cyber sleuths using real-world digital forensic methods and tools to solve investigative scenarios. Students also learn about related careers while improving their cyber street smarts. The CSSL incorporates additional “outside of the computer” activities to strengthen students’ engagement such as structured in-classroom discussions, mock trials, and in-person interactions with practitioner role models. The CSSL was piloted in various forms to assess the suitability for in-school and out-of-school settings, and the students predominantly represented racial minorities. Research in this project relied on a mixed methods approach for data collection and analysis, including qualitative and quantitative methods, reinforced using learning analytics generated from the students clicking through the interface and interacting with the system. Analysis of gathered data indicate that the virtual learning environment developed in this project is highly effective for teaching digital forensic knowledge, skills, and abilities that are directly applicable in the workplace. Furthermore, the strategies for gender inclusive STEM instruction implemented in CSSL are effective for engaging girls without being harmful to boys’ engagement. Learning STEM through digital forensic science taps into girls’ motivations to address real-world problems that have direct relevance to their lives, and to protect and serve their community. After participating in the educational program, girls expressed a significantly greater increase in interest, relative to boys, in learning more about careers related to digital forensics and cybersecurity.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Springer Science + Business Media
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Smart Learning Environments
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs are National Science Foundation (NSF) funded programs designed to provide K- 12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers with immersive, hands-on research experiences at Universities around the country. The NSF RET in nanotechnology encourages teachers to translate cutting-edge research into culturally relevant Project-Based Learning (PjBL) and engineering curriculum. Traditionally, the evaluation of RET programs focuses on the growth and development of teacher self-efficacy, engineering content knowledge gains, or classroom implementation of developed curriculum materials. However, reported methods for evaluating the impact of RETs on their female, minority student populations' high school graduation and undergraduate STEM major rates are limited. This study's objective was to compare RET high school student graduation rates and undergraduate STEM major rates across gender, race, and ethnicity to a comparison sample to determine the RET program's long-term impact on students' likelihood of pursuing STEM careers. The approach of collecting and analyzing the Texas Education Research Center Database (EdRC) data is a novel methodology for assessing RET programs' effectiveness on students. The EdRC is a repository of K-12 student data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Higher Education data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). This joint database contains demographic, course registration, graduation, standardized testing, and college major, among others, for all students that attended a K-12 public school in Texas and any college in Texas, public or private. The RET program participants at Rice University (2010 – 2018) taught numerous students, a sample size of 11,240 students. A propensity score matching generated the student comparison group within the database. Students' school campus, gender, race/ethnic status, and English proficiency status were applied to produce a graduation comparison sample size of 11,240 students of Non-RET participants. Linking the TEA database to the THECB database resulted in college STEM participants and comparison sample sizes of 4,029 students. The project team conducted a logistic regression using RET status to predict high school graduation rates as a whole and by individual variables: gender, Asian American, Black, Caucasian, and Latinx students. All models were significant at p less than 0.05, with models in favor of students RET teachers. The project team conducted a logistic regression using RET status to predict student STEM undergraduate major rates as a whole and by individual variables: Gender, Asian American, Black, Caucasian, and Latinx students. African American and Caucasian models were significant at p less than 0.05; Gender, Asian American, and Latinx models were marginally significant (0.05 less than p greater than 0.1), where RET students had higher STEM major rates than matched controls. The findings demonstrate that RET programs have a long-term positive impact on the students' high school graduation rates and undergraduate STEM major rates. As teachers who participate in the RET programs are more likely to conduct courses using PjBL strategies and incorporate real-world engineering practices, female and minority students are more likely to benefit from these practices and seek careers utilizing these skills.more » « less
With ongoing underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, it is necessary to explore ways to maintain girls' STEM interest throughout elementary and middle school. This study is situated within the context of Designs in STEM (pseudonym), an out‐of‐school program that engages urban youth in authentic STEM experiences. Participants were 30 girls attending Designs in STEM in grades four and five. Participants were interviewed about their STEM interest, out‐of‐school versus in‐school STEM learning experiences, and how gender relates to STEM success. Several key findings emerged. First, although students' prior school experiences with mathematics resulted in less positive dispositions toward mathematics than other STEM disciplines, their experiences at Designs in STEM revealed that mathematics could be fun and valuable when used for real‐world purposes. Second, students found Designs in STEM to be more engaging and inspiring due to the context and pedagogies employed by Designs in STEM instructors. Third, despite observing girls' behavior that was more aligned with academic success, participants still identified STEM advantages for boys. Finally, participants defined success and intelligence in STEM based on speed and tracking. Discussion focuses on the need to consider how school‐based mathematics instruction may serve as a barrier to girls' STEM interest and involvement.
Creating pathways that stimulate high school learners’ interest in advanced topics with the goal of building a diverse, gender-balanced, future-ready workforce is crucial. To this end, we present the curriculum of a new, high school computer science course under development called Computer Science Frontiers (CSF). Building on the foundations set by the AP Computer Science Principles course, we seek to dramatically expand access, especially for high school girls, to the most exciting and emerging frontiers of computing, such as distributed computation, the internet of things (IoT), cybersecurity, and machine learning. The modular, open-access, hands-on curriculum provides an engaging introduction to these advanced topics in high school because currently they are accessible only to CS majors in college. It also focuses on other 21st century skills required to productively leverage computational methods and tools in virtually every profession. To address the dire gender disparity in computing, the curriculum was designed to engage female students by focusing on real world application domains, such as climate change and health, by including social applications and by emphasizing collaboration and teamwork. Our paper describes the design of curricular modules on Distributed Computing, IoT/Cybersecurity, and AI/Machine Learning. All project-based activities are designed to be collaborative, situated in contexts that are engaging to high school students, and often involve real-world world data. We piloted these modules in teacher PD workshops with 8 teachers from North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York who then facilitated virtual summer camps with high school students in 2020 and 2021. Findings from teacher PD workshops as well as student camps indicate high levels of engagement in and enthusiasm for the curricular activities and topics. Post-intervention surveys suggest that these experiences generate student interest exploring these ideas further and connections to areas of interest to students.more » « less
The use of 3D printing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning is a promising way for integrated STEM education. This study examined the influence of 3D printing infused STEM integration on students' interest in STEM careers, which is essential for students to participate in STEM disciplines and future STEM careers. The participants included 26 teachers across six states in the United States and their 1455 students in primary and secondary classrooms. Teachers' lesson plans were analysed to examine the level of 3D printing and STEM integration. Students' interest in STEM careers was measured using a previously validated career interest scale. Cluster analysis and multiple regression analysis indicated that girls were more interested in empathetic STEM careers, whereas boys were more interested in analytic STEM careers. While 3D printing integration level was not a significant predictor, teachers' STEM integration level positively predicted students' interest in both analytic and empathetic STEM careers.
What is already known about this topic
Student career interest in primary and secondary school predicts college degree and career choice.
3D printing has the potential to improve students' interest in STEM careers.
STEM career interest is associated with student gender.
What this paper adds
This study examined the role of 3D printing and STEM integration level and student gender in students' STEM career interest.
Teachers' 3D printing integration level was not a significant predictor, but STEM integration level positively predicted students' interest in STEM careers.
This study confirmed that boys were more interested in Analytic STEM careers, whereas girls were more interested in Empathetic STEM careers.
Implications for practice and/or policy
Student STEM career interest improves when teachers integrate STEM in their instruction.
STEM instruction can be made relevant by focusing on empathetic aspects of STEM for girls, but caution should be exercised to minimise stereotyping.
N/A (Ed.)In 2019, women made up about half of the U.S. workforce but only 27% of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Women pursuing careers in STEM workforces often face gender bias, discrimination, and harassment, yet seldom receive instruction on how to best handle such issues. The National Science Foundation-funded NAVIGATE Project aims to address this situation by providing women STEM graduate students with educational materials on how to recognize and confront discrimination, both interpersonally and organizationally. The skills-based program uses a case study approach, which promotes the internalization of learning and the development of analytical and decision-making skills, as well as proficiency in oral communication and teamwork. Each case study is coupled with discussion questions for individual and group reflection, as well as a complete facilitation guide with possible answers for those leading the training, to promote meaningful engagement with the material. The NAVIGATE facilitators will lead workshop participants through this novel case study approach to supporting the career persistence by women in STEM. The session will include research on the role change agents play in retaining women in STEM. It will also give participants opportunities to work collectively to strategize on how to impart graduate students with the skills necessary to (1) recognize gender bias, harassment and discrimination when encountered, and (2) act to overcome career adversity created by gender bias, harassment, and discrimination to persist in their STEM careers and become transformational leaders in their fields.more » « less