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Work in Progress: Effects of Out-of-School STEM Activities on Sixth Grade Students: A Systematic Literature Review

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Efforts to Understand and Support Students' Socioemotional Factors

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Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Nicole Svetlov Texas A&M University

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Nicole is an undergraduate engineering student at Texas A&M University who is interested in promoting inclusivity in Engineering at the middle school, high school, and graduate levels.

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Aamir Fidai Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Aamir received his master’s degree in Mathematics Education from University of Texas at Dallas and is currently a fourth-year doctoral student at Texas A&M university. Aamir Fidai served as a mathematics teacher and varsity tennis coach in Dallas ISD for 10 years. During his tenure at Pinkston high school in West Dallas, he became an advocate for the cause of access and inclusion in STEM education for all students. He founded the first STEM club in Dallas ISD and encouraged his students who were mostly from underprivileged families to aim for college education and careers in STEM fields.

Aamir’s research interests include equity in STEM education and infusion of open source hardware and software in STEM classrooms through Internet of Things (IoT) Technology. Aamir is also interested in expanding the academic research opportunity to undergraduate students in in-service teachers in K-12. Aamir is an Aggie Research Leader and is active in mentoring undergraduate research scholars. Aamir has presented his research both at regional (SERA, TAMU LAUNCH) and at international (FIE, AERA) educational research conferences. Aamir has three published conference proceedings and is currently working on several research projects dealing with technology and equity in STEM classrooms.

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Christine M. McCall Texas A&M University

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Christine McCall is a junior education major specializing in 4-8th math and science education from Texas A&M University. She plans to pursue a master's degree and her research interests include peer mentoring, experiential learning, and leadership development.

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In this work in progress paper, we present the preliminary results of a systematic literature review on the effects of out-of-school STEM activities on sixth-grade students. Research indicates the sixth grade is a critical transition point in students’ academic lives for their personal and academic growth. In addition to these developments, sixth graders are starting to form their early professional identities that will help them make career choices. Academic interventions at this stage to prepare students for rigorous higher- and post-secondary academic work has shown to help middle schoolers to enter high school better prepared to graduate with good grades and on time. In addition to the in-class academic preparation, out of school interventions such as summer programs, after-school STEM camps and other out-of-school informal learning opportunities have shown fruitful results for encouraging students to choose STEM careers pathways. These out-of-school STEM programs may have wide-ranging implications for improving students’ perceptions towards STEM careers. Students benefit from out-of-school STEM learning opportunities by exploring STEM ideas and gaining a better understanding of STEM careers. Furthermore, engaging students in STEM learning through out-of-school STEM activities have positive personal and academic effects on students. This report on the work in progress systematic literature review of the effects of out-of-school stem activities on sixth-grade students presents the preliminary findings from our initial literature search and review of found articles. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) method to record our literature search results. Our initial keywords "After school", "STEM", "Learning Outcomes" OR "Academic Outcomes", "Experimental" OR "Quasi Experimental", "6th grade", "Pre Test" OR "Post Test" OR "Pre-test" OR "post-test", resulted in 189 articles. Through our inclusion/exclusion criteria we restricted the results to articles published in English language during or after the year 2000. Also, we were only interested in articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals, appeared in conference proceedings or were committee approved Master’s or Doctoral theses. After the initial screening, we identified 19 quantitative articles, 3 qualitative articles, and 12 mixed-methods articles. Full text analysis of the 33 articles resulted in the exclusion of 13 quantitative articles, 1 qualitative article, and 4 mixed-methods articles. The preliminary results from this work in progress, systematic literature review indicate that out of school learning environments create more possibilities for applied, hands-on learning that is more impactful and motivating than the traditional in-class teaching methods. The findings suggest that sixth-grade students enjoy out-of-school STEM interventions. Finally, we found that out-of-school STEM interventions have a positive effect on students’ perceptions towards STEM subjects and careers.

Svetlov, N., & Fidai, A., & McCall, C. M. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Effects of Out-of-School STEM Activities on Sixth Grade Students: A Systematic Literature Review Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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