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Analysis of a Short-Term STEM Intervention Targeting Middle School Girls and Their Parents (Research to Practice)

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Gender Perceptions and Girls in K-12 Engineering and Computer Science

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.179.1 - 24.179.42



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Paper Authors


Christina Deckard SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific

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Christina Deckard is a native San Diegan and enjoys the beach and the southern California weather. Ms. Deckard graduated top of her class in physics from San Diego State University in 1983. She enjoyed learning so much that she kept going back for more and received a master’s in physics and a master’s in mathematics. Ms. Deckard has been working at SPAWAR Systems Center for over 30 years. She has worked in the areas of acoustics, lasers, surveillance, bullet tracking, and RF exploitation. The recipient of numerous Navy awards for her efforts in research, Ms. Deckard is also an instructor in physics and math at local colleges and universities. Currently, Ms. Deckard is active in creating a culture of STEM excitement through enabling Department of Defense scientists and engineers to reach out to the local K-12 community. She also works closely with colleges and universities to promote more science and technology advancement. Ms. Deckard is a strong advocate for inspiring females to pursue science and engineering degrees and is active in the local Society of Women Engineers section.

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David Quarfoot SDSU/UCSD

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David Quarfoot is currently a doctoral student in the mathematics and science education Ph.D. program offered jointly through San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego. Before this, he spent 10 years teaching mathematics and computer science in private schools on the East coast and has a B.S. and M.S. in pure mathematics. His research interests lie at the intersection of educational analytics, big data, machine learning, and mathematics education.

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Kimberly C Csanadi

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Analysis of a Short-Term STEM Intervention Targeting Middle School Girls and Their Parents (Research to Practice)On February 7, 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)issued a report to President Obama projecting a U.S. shortfall of roughly one million scientistsand engineers over the next decade. Given the dramatic impact this shortage will have onAmerica’s intellectual, sociocultural, military, and technological progress, the need to motivateyoung people to lives of scientific inquiry is particularly timely. One way to ameliorate thisproblem is by increasing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) participationamong girls and minorities. The goal of this paper is to explore the attitudinal changes createdvia a half-day science/engineering intervention targeted specifically at middle school girls andtheir parents living in a large city in the American Southwest. The intervention is held on acollege campus with the volunteer force of female science and engineering students and local,female STEM professionals providing activities, demonstrations, tours and speakers. Throughthe use of anonymous, IRB-approved pre- and post-surveys, both quantitative and qualitativemethods are employed to gauge the effectiveness of belief changes along a variety ofdimensions: knowledge of how one becomes an engineer, engineers as role models, the role ofwomen in science and engineering, and overall excitement about the field of engineering. Inaddition to studying student and parent groups separately – to learn the types of attitudinalfeatures susceptible to change within each group, and hence to inform intervention-design effortsmore globally – this study also works to uncover relationships between the two groups, thusgiving a clearer picture of the nature of change within family units. In quantitative analyses,both parametric and non-parametric statistical methods are employed, as responses from Likert-style response items are viewed both as ordinal and ratio data. Qualitative methods are used onfree-response questions and draw upon methods from Grounded Theory (as outlined in the workof Corbin and Strauss). In their totality, these analytic tools provide evidence for theeffectiveness of the studied intervention, and concomitantly, suggest a step toward easingAmerica’s looming scientific crisis.

Deckard, C., & Quarfoot, D., & Csanadi, K. C. (2014, June), Analysis of a Short-Term STEM Intervention Targeting Middle School Girls and Their Parents (Research to Practice) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20070

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