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Impact of a 5-Week Collegiate Level Residential STEM Summer Program on Secondary School Students (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

K-12 Outreach and Out-of-School Time Engineering Programming and Research

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.691.1 - 24.691.16



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Paper Authors


Benjamin Reed Campbell Robert Morris University

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Ben Campbell holds a BS in physics and MS in electrical engineering from Penn State and a PhD in engineering from Robert Morris University. For the first decade of his career, he worked as a laser engineer at the Penn State Electro-Optics Center. In 2011 he joined Robert Morris University as an Assistant Professor of Engineering. Since 2005, Dr. Campbell has served as faculty for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences (a summer program at Carnegie Mellon) and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the PGSS Campaign, a nonprofit that is responsible for raising the funds to finance and sustain the program.

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Sarah Marie Riordan Robert Morris University Orcid 16x16

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Sarah Robb is a graduate student at Robert Morris University in the Engineering Management MS program. She recently completed a BS in Engineering at Robert Morris with concentrations in mechanical and biomedical engineering. Graduating with honors, she has also successfully passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (EIT) exam. She has participated in summer research at Vanderbilt University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and most recently worked as a teaching assistant for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Stephanie Abbott

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Sarah Mukui Mutunga Robert Morris University

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Impact of a 5-Week Collegiate Level Residential STEM Summer Program on Secondary School Students (research to practice)Introduction: Governor's School programs were initiated throughout the U.S. to introducesecondary school students to new ideas and opportunities within STEM and other specializedsubject areas. Funding cuts in the past few years have forced the cessation of many of thesesummer programs. Alumni of one program successfully restarted a Governor’s School in thesummer of 2013. To promote sustaining the program, it is desirable to analyze its educationalefficacy. Additionally, a challenge exists at the collegiate level to attract and retain engineeringstudents until graduation (especially with females and minorities). Therefore, it would bebeneficial to verify whether students attending advanced STEM programs during high schoolyears increase their interest and retention in STEM fields by gaining broader knowledge, skillsand confidence.Program Details: The 5-week summer program includes: Hours per Curriculum weekCore Classes biology, chemistry, computer science, math, physics 4 each (required)Elective Various applied science and engineering topics 2 eachLabs Choice between biology, chemistry, computer science, 6 each physicsTeam Project Choice between various biology, chemistry, computer 6 each science, math, physics projectsGuest Speakers Various STEM topics 1-2Optional non- Athletic competitions, group games, dances, student 10-15academic social musical performances, field tripsactivitiesMaterials and Methods: Pre- and post-program surveys were conducted to assess the student’sdispositions towards STEM and STEM careers along with critical thinking and problem solvingskills using Likert scale responses. The post-program survey also included program living andlearning environment evaluations and free response questions, where students were prompted togive feedback on program strengths and weaknesses. These surveys, along with observations offaculty (Author A) and teaching/resident assistant (Author B), will be used to judge the programimpact on students.Preliminary Results and Discussion: Pre- and post-program data found a general increase inattitude towards and interest in STEM (significance shown with z-test). Additional analysis ofpost-program free response questions found the many students realized the importance ofcollaboration and teamwork, felt more prepared to attend college, and felt program participationreaffirmed their goal to pursue a STEM career. The responses also show that all students plan onattending undergraduate and graduate school for a STEM degree. A long term (>5 years) follow-up survey is needed to confirm this.Conclusions: The current program structure is effective in increasing both male and femalestudent’s disposition towards and interest in certain STEM areas. Additionally, free responseanswers indicated the program had a positive impact on student social skills and ability to workon teams.However, despite many free response questions indicating an increase of confidence in criticalthinking and problem solving skills, Likert-scale question analysis do not show a significantincrease in student confidence in these skill sets. This may be due to students already havinghigh confidence in these areas, so to better evaluate the current curriculum, pre- and post-program survey sections focusing on this area will be improved for increased resolution.References:Author’s paper: First Year Engineering Education Conference (2012)Knezek, G., Christensen, R., & Tyler-Wood, T. (2011). Contrasting perceptions of STEMcontent and careers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 11(1), 92-117.Mincemoyer, C., Perkins, D (2005) Measuring the impact of youth development programs: Anational on-line youth life skills evaluation system. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues.10(2).Mincemoyer, C., and Perkins, D (2003) Assessing decision-making skills of youth. The Forumfor Family and Consumer Issues 8(1).

Campbell, B. R., & Riordan, S. M., & Abbott, S., & Mutunga, S. M. (2014, June), Impact of a 5-Week Collegiate Level Residential STEM Summer Program on Secondary School Students (Research to Practice) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20583

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