Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Broadening Youth Participation in STEM Learning

How can we broaden youth participation in STEM Learning

2018  -   2028
Ionica Smeets
NWO - De Nationale Wetenschapsagenda NWO - De Nationale Wetenschapsagenda

This project aims for evidence-based outreach to understand and increase participation in STEM learning of youth with backgrounds.

It is essential that all youth be given opportunities for learning STEM subjects. However, studies show that STEM activities are not inclusive and in many cases alienate minorities from pursuing a career in STEM fields. Participants in such activities disproportionately consist of young people from more affluent, the middle-class, and ethnically dominant backgrounds of society.

By the implementation of two interventions our project aims to understand how to decrease this gap. We will develop two interventions in STEM education and communication that will be based on current knowledge on minorities in STEM learning and that will be scientifically evaluated. The interventions will run parallel.

One of the interventions focuses on the effect of tutoring of low-SES primary-school students. Recent studies show that tutoring has a positive effect on learning for low-SES students. We will implement and evaluate a long-term tutoring project for low-SES primary school children. Through a randomized control trial, we will investigate whether the STEM background of the tutor has an impact on the children’s interest in STEM.

The other intervention is based on the co-creation of educational material on current STEM research in the Netherlands to target a broad group of Dutch youth (ages 9-16), in particular underrepresented groups such as girls, minorities and children from low-SES backgrounds. The development will be based on established science educational approaches. The development, the implementation and the evaluations will be carried out by researchers in astrophysics, physics, informal science learning and science communication in close collaboration (co-creation) with teachers and students.