Tuesday, October 04, 2011

STEM in Afterschool Impacts & Outcomes

The Afterschool Alliance recently released an analysis of the impacts and outcomes of STEM learning in afterschool. The report identifies evaluation studies that have been done in a wide range of afterschool programs across the country and highlights common themes, laying the foundation for future evaluation studies of STEM in afterschool.

 To find the 19 studies highlighted in the report, the Alliance cast a wide net among out-of-school time intermediaries (including the Coalition for Science After School) and program providers themselves. The report includes large national programs, (such as FIRST Robotics and the 4-H Science Initiative), statewide projects and initiatives (like After-School Math PLUS in New York and Missouri, and the Student Science Enrichment Program in North Carolina), as well as local groups (such as Project Exploration in Chicago and Techbridge in Alameda County, California).

The Alliance was able to identify three overarching themes that were examined and/or defined in the evaluation studies:

·      Improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers
·      Increased STEM knowledge and skills
·      Higher likelihood of graduation and pursuing a STEM career

Further details of how each of the evaluation studies addresses each theme—and what the actual outcomes of each theme look like—are available in the full report.

Individual organizations can take action by conducting evaluation studies of their own programs. Evaluation studies are an excellent way for afterschool organizations and programs to identify what is and isn’t working in their program, as well as provide tangible evidence of success to funding organizations and community advocates. Afterschool programs can look for success indicators in two ways:

  • Youth development outcomes:
    • Increased graduate rates
    • Likelihood of attending college
    • Better attendance in school
    • Increased community service or involvemnet
  • Science and Math education outcomes:
    • Higher test scores
    • Demonstrated understanding of math and/or science concepts through high-quality projects and schoolwork
    • Likelihood of pursuing a STEM college degree and/or career

If you’re looking for more resources on doing an evaluation study within your program, see our Assessment & Evaluation Resources page.

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