Informal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Learning Conditions to Increase Parent Involvement with Young Children Experiencing Poverty

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Posted on November 10, 2022 by lperronne

Published:

November 1, 2022

Publication:

Frontiers in Psychology

CLI Authors:

Tricia A. Zucker, PhD; Gloria Yeomans-Maldonado, PhD; Michael A. Assel, PhD; and Cindy Elias

Abstract:

Broadening participation in early science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning outside of school is important for families experiencing poverty. We evaluated variations of the Teaching Together STEM pre-kindergarten program for increasing parent involvement in STEM learning. This informal STEM, family engagement program was offered in 20 schools where 92% of students received free/reduced lunch. The core treatment included a series of family education workshops, text messages, and family museum passes. The workshops were delivered at school sites by museum outreach educators. We randomly assigned schools to business-as-usual control or one of three additive treatment groups. Using an additive treatment design, we provided the core program in Treatment A, we added take-home STEM materials in Treatment B, and added materials + parent monetary rewards in Treatment C. The primary outcome was parent involvement in STEM (n = 123). There were no significant impacts of any treatment on parent involvement; however, the groups that added take-home materials had larger effect sizes on parent involvement at posttest (ES = −0.08 to 0.18) and later, kindergarten follow-up (ES = −0.01 to 0.34). Adding parent monetary rewards only produced short-term improvements in parent involvement that faded at follow-up. We discuss implications for other community-sponsored family engagement programs focused on informal STEM learning, including considering characteristics of families who were more versus less likely to attend. These null findings suggest that alternatives to in-person family education workshops should be considered when parents are experiencing poverty and have competing demands on their time.

Funding:

Research reported in this publication was supported by Advancing Informal STEM Learning division of the National Science Foundation under award number 1811356.

Citation:

Zucker TA, Maldonado GY, Assel M, McCallum C, Elias C, Swint JM and Lal L (2022) Informal science, technology, engineering and math learning conditions to increase parent involvement with young children experiencing poverty. Front. Psychol. 13:1015590. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1015590

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1015590