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Engaging Urban Students in Engineering Design to Determine Shifts in Attitudes Toward STEM

Harris, Rabiah (2019) Engaging Urban Students in Engineering Design to Determine Shifts in Attitudes Toward STEM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study directly pertained to the daily work of teachers of urban students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses. According to a 2016 study, between 8-12% of students of color are interested in STEM (Neuhauser & Cook, 2016). However, growth in STEM occupations is expected to increase 8.9% by 2024 and STEM degree holders can have higher earning potential than non-STEM degree holders (Noonan, 2017). More importantly, skills learned through STEM are useful across fields. Lack of interest by students of color in STEM means they will miss out on both opportunity and critical skills. To increase student interest, educators may ask the question: How do I engage more students of color in STEM?
This study sought to determine shifts, if any, among student engagement in a physics course at an urban school. The teacher, who was also the researcher, engaged students in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned mini-unit to monitor changes in attitudes towards STEM as a measure of interest through surveys, focus groups and student reflections. The purpose of this study was to understand how teachers can help improve students of color’s interest in STEM through completing activities within their own classrooms. As a result of data gathered in this study three subgroups emerged amongst participants: STEM Persisters, Science Communicators and STEM Critics. Students showed interest in the use of critical school science to learn and showed knowledge of science content. However, students did not show greater interest in pursuing science careers from the beginning to the end of the three-week study. Engaging students in critical school science has positive implications for their attitude towards STEM, but further longitudinal studies should be done to determine if their positive attitude can be maintained across STEM courses and through post-high school pursuits.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Harris, Rabiahrlh85@pitt.edurlh850000-0002-2445-7473
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairForman, Elliceellice@pitt.eduellice0000-0003-4390-5179
Committee MemberKokka, Karikokka@pitt.edukokka0000-0002-7037-9904
Committee MemberWang, Ming-Temtwang@pitt.edumtwang0000-0002-6170-5448
Date: 31 January 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 December 2018
Approval Date: 31 January 2019
Submission Date: 16 January 2019
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 91
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Curriculum development, Student identity, Equity, STEM pipeline, Urban education
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 14:14
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2020 06:15


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