Decoding STEM: The Impact of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach Programming on English Language Learners
Florence, Stephanie Leanne
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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are often considered to be gatekeeping school subjects. The language used in STEM education and traditional pedagogies which place emphasis on textbook learning can be challenging for students, especially those who are learning English at the same time. This case study examines a cohort of English Language Learners (ELLs) selected from a larger longitudinal STEM study that aimed to investigate how school partnerships with STEM outreach programs model alternative pedagogical strategies through hands-on inquiry models to effectively engage ELLs, as well as support STEM learning and second language acquisition (SLA) concurrently. Findings indicate that STEM outreach programs can support attitude, interest, and self-efficacy in both STEM and SLA due to specific distinguishing features. In the context of this study, these features include: (a) access to hands-on learning; (b) agency by design; and (c) access to peer learning networks. Jointly, self-efficacy, attitude, and interest come together to support ELLs in STEM over time.