STEM Knowledge Gains and Attitudinal Changes

“The STEM Scholars Program gives you career options that match what you liked about the course and make you think about what career you might like in the future.” 
-- Student, Texas

While today’s teens are surrounded by technology, there is a major shortage of students pursuing academic and career paths in STEM related fields. In fact, data demonstrates that U.S. students are falling behind their global peers when it comes to both the technical skills they are developing and their likelihood to pursue a career in STEM. The industries that will power our economy require a workforce skilled in STEM disciplines. 

To play our part, the U.S. Chamber Foundation partners with EVERFI to carry out the STEM Scholars program. This program allows a teacher in a sponsored middle or high school to choose an appropriate curriculum to bring advanced science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to their students at no cost to the schools. STEM Scholars is a unique digital course that uses online gaming and simulations to teach critical technology, math, and coding skills, and expose students to STEM career opportunities that they might never have dreamed were within their reach. For the 2017-2018 school year we sponsored 27 schools across the United States, supporting over 4,000 students.

A yet to be released year-end wrap up report on the success of this year's programming reveals student knowledge gains, behaviors, and attitudinal changes across the country. Compiled by EVERFI’s research team, the findings provide an analysis of data from schools across Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas. Overall, findings suggest that connecting students’ personal interests and strengths to STEM skills helps students better see themselves in a STEM-related career. 

Here is a snapshot of those findings:

Knowledge Gains

Students complete assessments before and after taking each module of the STEM Scholars program. Upon completing the post-assessment, learners received feedback regarding how they performed; the feedback is designed to encourage students based on their strengths, rather than focus on correcting weaknesses. The data can also help educators and administrators effectively guide students toward STEM careers.

 *% score after STEM Scholars lesson averages 2% above national program average

After taking the Future of Manufacturing module, students are able to:

  • Identify appropriate visual data formats for specific data sets
  • Understand the steps necessary to create a secure password
  • Identify STEM careers that utilize data literacy-related skills

After taking the Big Data and Internet of Things module, students are able to:

  • Solve a virtual engineering problem from a set of constraints
  • Explain the basic process for additive 3D printing
  • Identify the steps of the design process and explain how it is utilized by designers and engineers
  • Identify STEM careers that utilize engineering-related skills

After taking the The Algorithms Behind Recommendations module, students are able to:

  • Explain how recommendation engines utilize data to predict user preferences
  • Distinguish between content and collaborative filtering
  • Identify STEM careers that utilize data literacy-related skills

Student Attitudes around STEM

The program’s surveys explore how students view STEM in their surroundings and whether they can see themselves excelling in STEM as an academic subject and as a potential career. Leading research indicates that most students form their career aspirations by age 14. Given the growth in STEM career opportunities and the importance of middle school students’ interest in STEM, awareness of STEM careers and self-agency could have long term implications for students.

  • 38% of students agree that STEM Scholars made them more interested in STEM-related career paths

A Tailored Path Toward a Career in STEM

Throughout the course, students are introduced to different career opportunities based on their answers to questions about their interests and skills. Students are presented with career cards - which they can ‘like’ or ‘skip’ - that contain basic descriptions, as well as sample projects, average national salary, required skills, recommended classes, and actionable next steps to prepare for the career. This not only shows students what STEM career options are available, but also allows them to see themselves in those careers. 

Most ‘liked’ STEM careers included:

  • Video Game Designer
  • Front End Web Developer
  • UI Designer
  • Information Security Analyst
  • CNC Programmer
  • Multimedia Designer

Voice of the Teachers

STEM Scholars teachers feel that the course content enhanced material they taught in the classroom and was easy to fit into their standard curriculum. 

  • 97% of teachers say the course content was important and relevant to their students
  • 84% of teachers felt that the course covered content that students would not otherwise have seen
  • 98% of teachers rated the course as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’