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Parents’ Perceptions of STEM Education in Black Churches

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Whitney Gaskins University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Gaskins is the Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science, the only African-American female currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. Whitney earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education. In her role as Assistant Dean, Dr. Gaskins has revamped the summer bridge program to increase student support and retention as well as developed and strengthened partnerships in with local area school districts to aid in the high school to college pathway.
In 2009, she founded The Gaskins Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate and empower the African American community. Her foundation recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year round K-12 program, which is a free of charge program that will introduce more students to Math and Science. She was named the 2017 K12 Champion by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA).

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Tracy Pritchard University of Cincinnati

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Delano White


Keri K. Eason

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Keri Eason is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include Asian American Identity, Higher Education, and Pop-Culture.

Keri received her B.A. from Northern Kentucky University in 2010. She earned her M.A. in English from Northern Kentucky University in 2013. Keri began her career at Gateway Community & Technical College as an Academic Advisor for the Nursing Program. She worked as an Academic Advisor for the University of Cincinnati's Center for Exploratory Studies between 2015-2017. Keri has taught College Success Skills and Discovering UC. She began the Sociology PhD program at University of Cincinnati in the Fall of 2018.

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The purpose of this research study is to explore the feasibility of an educational program focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) delivered in an innovative informal learning environment: Black churches. In this initial phase we will identify and examine attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and misconceptions of parents about STEM and STEM pathways. We will also seek to identify elements that parents would like to see in a STEM education curriculum. The overall goal of EPICC STEMulation is to equip church leaders and parents from underrepresented backgrounds with the tools to deliver STEM content that is contextualized to their lived experiences to youth ages 10-14 who attend the partner churches.

Research demonstrates that parental involvement is an important factor in education. When parents are involved in their children’s education, their children perform better academically and socially. Parents’ belief systems have an impact on their feelings about their role in shaping their children’s education. These beliefs help them personally determine what is important and what their role can be in supporting the educational needs of their children. Their own sense of understanding and comfort level in supporting their children can have a significant influence on their children’s educational success. Actively engaging parents in their children’s education helps with parents’ perceptions about their ability to support their children. Blacks are overrepresented in many sports, and consequently sports and entertainment are generally seen as pathways to success. As a result, parents usually place more emphasis on getting their children involved in afterschool and weekend sports activities versus educational programs. When parents do pursue educational programs for their children, they encounter additional obstacles. Many families have difficulty supporting their children’s participation in educational programs due to changing work schedules and constraints such as public transportation and the cost to participate.

This project will inform our understanding of how parents from marginalized communities view STEM pathways. While the primary goal of EPICC STEMulation is to broaden STEM learning participation, a potential secondary outcome that cannot be overlooked is the skill building opportunities for parents. In the paper, we will discuss the results of the focus groups and present the implications of the findings on educational systems and informal learning spaces.

Gaskins, W., & Pritchard, T., & White, D., & Eason, K. K. (2020, June), Parents’ Perceptions of STEM Education in Black Churches Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35036

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