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A Longitudinal Evaluation of Project Lead The Way in the State of Iowa

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.55.1 - 22.55.15



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Paper Authors


David G. Rethwisch University of Iowa

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Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, University of Iowa.

Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1985.
B.S., Chemistry, University of Iowa, 1979.

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Frankie Santos Laanan Iowa State University

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Frankie Santos Laanan is an associate professor in the department of educational leadership and policy studies at Iowa State University. He is also director of the Office of Community College Research and Policy. His research focuses on the impact of community colleges on individuals and society. Specifically, he examines the role of community colleges in increasing women and underrepresented students in STEM disciplines.

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Melissa Chapman Haynes Independent External Evaluation Consultant, Professional Data Analysts, Inc.

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Melissa Chapman Haynes is a Senior Evaluator at Professional Data Analysts, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as an
Independent External Evaluation Consultant. She has been conducting program evaluation since 2002, and is currently a professional member of the primary evaluation association, the American Evaluation Association, and of the American Educational Research Association.

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Soko S. Starobin Iowa State University

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Soko Starobin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) and Associate Director in the Office of Community College Research and Policy (OCCRP). Her research interests include community college students, women and minorities in science and engineering, and comparative higher education. Her current research agenda is to propose a new concept of STEM student success literacy that consists of internal and external factors that influence traditionally underrepresented students in STEM fields at postsecondary level. She received the 2010 Barbara K. Townsend Emerging Scholar Award from the Council for the Study of Community Colleges.

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A Longitudinal Evaluation of Project Lead The Way in the State of IowaAbstractThe State of Iowa has implemented Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a sequence of pre-engineering courses for students in middle and high schools. Despite the popularity and rapidexpansion of PLTW program in Iowa, little is known about its efficacy. This is partially due tothe lack of studies with robust data, such as comprehensive statewide K-12 and postsecondarydatabases, or the lack of a control group where pre-existing differences in student demographiccharacteristics, PLTW course enrollment, academic performance, and standardized tests areconsidered. This study addressed these two design concerns as we are conducting a statewide,longitudinal evaluation using secondary and postsecondary data maintained by the State of Iowato evaluate and measure students’ socio-demographic characteristics, academic achievement,course taking patterns, and progress from high school to postsecondary education.The initial findings indicate PLTW participants are more likely to be white, male, enroll in mathand science courses, and have higher standardized test scores. The team is currently involved in“propensity score matching” to reduce the effects of self-selection and define the covariates forthe differences between PLTW participants and nonparticipants. A key goal is to determine ifPLTW courses increase a students’ pursuance of in STEM postsecondary education. This studyhas implications for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers regarding the comprehensiveevaluation design and the critical role that PLTW can play to increase the participation, bothgenerally and within non-traditional groups, in postsecondary STEM education in the U.S. 1

Rethwisch, D. G., & Laanan, F. S., & Haynes, M. C., & Starobin, S. S. (2011, June), A Longitudinal Evaluation of Project Lead The Way in the State of Iowa Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17337

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