Fostering Interest in and Motivation for STEM: An Illustrative Case Study of Middle Grade Students’ Experiences in Out of School (OST) STEM Activities

Co-authors Rebecca Hite, Ph.D. and David Taylor, Ph.D., Texas Tech University


To not only build a knowledgeable, but also a persistent STEM pipeline, it is important to understand how Outside of (regular) School Time (OST) STEM opportunities spur middle school students’ learning, yet also their interests in and motivations for STEM. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of a small group of independent (private) middle school students’ interest in and motivation for STEM while participating in one or two OST STEM activities (i.e., SeaPerch/robotics, Science Olympiad, Girls Who Code, and/or eCYBERMISSION).  Using an illustrative experimental single case study design, data was sourced from observations, a questionnaire, and interviews from 15 independent (private) middle school students participating in one (or two) 13- to 16-week OST STEM activities. Results suggest that sources of student interest and motivation related to OST STEM activities were mostly (representing 30% of data coded) sourced from students’ self-motivation and intrinsic interests in STEM, followed by teachers (20%), the enjoyment of (OST) STEM activities content (20%), family (10%), friends (10%), and other supportive persons and entities (outside of school, family, and friends) (1%).  Recommendations for strengthening OST STEM activity participation and outcomes as well as avenues for further research are discussed.


Case Study; Interest; Middle School; Motivation; OST; STEM Education

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Fostering Interest in and Motivation for STEM: An Illustrative Case Study of Middle Grade Students’ Experiences in Out of School (OST) STEM Activities


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