Author

Karl Zachmann

Date of Award

8-2018

Document Type

Action Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

Siri Anderson

Department/School

Education

Abstract

This action research project examines what impacts, if any, increased use of gender equitable teaching strategies (GETS)--with an emphasis on the use of female role models—has on young women’s interest in STEM education and career pathways. The research was conducted in elective secondary (9-12) STEM courses in a large suburban high school. All 89 enrolled in the courses received access to the education enrichments provided in this study. Data was collected from 18 young women in class as well as 12 additional girls who participated in a focus group. Students were given the opportunity to engage with women employed in a variety of STEM fields. Additionally, the classroom instruction and curriculum were modified to include more of the seven strategies identified as being critically important to achieve gender equitable outcomes in STEM courses (TPT, 2013) including: collaboration, student-focused instruction, growth mindset, culturally responsive pedagogy, and creative problem solving. The impact of these educational enrichments was measured through the use of: a STEM-identity survey; enrollment data; participant rankings of the effectiveness of instructional strategies used, role model feedback responses, and analysis of data recorded in a Women in STEM focus group. The results indicate that exposure to female role models and gender equitable teaching strategies were positive as evidenced in three important areas. Notably, female student’s attitudes towards STEM improved; more female students elected to take advanced STEM courses than had in the previous two years; and, participants expressed increased confidence and interest in a future STEM pathway.

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