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Impacts of Outreach on Entering College Students' Interests in STEM

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Interest and Movitation: Formulating New Paradigms to Increase URM Participation in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.896.1 - 26.896.16



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Paper Authors


Jonathan Miorelli Colorado School of Mines

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Jonathan is a PhD student at the Colorado School of Mines in the Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry. He believes that academic scientists in particular ought to make an effort to develop and help implement the most effective methods for fostering STEM interest in general public, specifically in under-privileged communities. His research interests center around how the principles of quantum physics give rise to observed chemical and material properties.

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Barbara M. Moskal Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Barbara Moskal is a Professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics and the Director of the Trefny Institute for Educational Innovation at the Colorado School of Mines. She is also a senior associate editor of the Journal for Engineering Education. Her research interests include: measurement, assessment, outreach, and diversity.

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Jerry Dwyer Texas Tech University

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Dr. Jerry Dwyer is a professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and Director of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center for Outreach, Research & Education (STEM-CORE) at Texas Tech University. He worked for many years in computational mechanics related to fracture, composite materials and glaciology. In recent years, he has focused on issues of mathematical education and outreach and he has developed a wide range of K-12 outreach projects. His current interests include the mathematical education of teachers, the scholarship of outreach, computational mathematics, and complex dynamics.

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Fundamental Research: Impacts of Outreach on Entering College Students Interests in STEM (Fundamental)The STEM acronym – which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics –has become well known and frequently used in both the media and education. The STEMsubjects are considered to be fundamental to a 21st century education. Most colleges anduniversities, regardless of their Carnegie classification, offer outreach programs in STEM, whichare designed to draw student interest to these important fields. The National Science Foundation(NSF) has also drawn attention to the importance of outreach programs by requiring that NSFfunded research projects include a “Broader Impact” statement. Often, these statements discusskindergarten through high school outreach. The primary target of many of these programs arepre-college students who have been traditionally underserved in the STEM fields, includingfemale, minority, economically disadvantaged and disabled students. The following researchquestions emerge from these outreach efforts:  How effective have these outreach programs been in drawing participating pre-colleges students’ interest to completing degrees in STEM?  What elements of such outreach programs are most effective for drawing the participating pre-college students’ interests to completing degrees in STEM?The study, which will be discussed in the proposed article, was completed at a large researchinstitution, in which the total enrollment exceeds thirty thousand students. Over a three-yearperiod, all freshman entering STEM degree programs were invited to complete an online survey.This survey solicited the students’ experiences in pre-college STEM programs and the impactthat these programs had on their choice of college degrees. The proposed paper will discuss theoutcomes of this survey as they relate to the research questions.One outcome of this investigation was the identification of an emerging trend: the percentage ofminority students reporting an increased interest in STEM fields due to involvement with pre-collegiate STEM programs improved at this university among entering freshman from 52% in2012 to 81% in 2014. Yet, there was no identifiable difference in the demographics of theresponding minority student population. This same trend was not witnessed for nonminoritystudents. The student self-report surveys further indicated that there was an increase in thestudent perceived benefit of pre-college participation in outreach activities that included teamcollaboration and real world applications for the group of students responding in 2014. Theproposed article will discuss this trend and its apparent impact on students’ interest, enrollmentand pursuit of STEM degrees.

Miorelli, J., & Moskal, B. M., & Dwyer, J. (2015, June), Impacts of Outreach on Entering College Students' Interests in STEM Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24233

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