STEM Workforce Stories for Adolescents Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.
This pilot and feasibility project addresses the needs of youth (ages 10-19) who are deaf or hard of hearing and use either English or American Sign Language as their preferred method of communication. The project will develop and study video stories from members of the STEM workforce who are deaf or hard of hearing. Youth will view these videos on the web at home or at an afterschool program. These stories will help the youth become aware of the range of STEM careers that are available and their potential to pursue and succeed in these occupations. One of the biggest challenges young persons who are deaf or hard of hearing face is not having role models who are members of the STEM workforce. Without these role models they are not aware of the possibility that they could work in these fields. Several studies indicate that seeing other people with disabilities having success in STEM boosts self-confidence. Exposure to deaf role models allows deaf student to identify with successful deaf people and consequently believe they themselves could accomplish goals they previously thought out of their reach. Project collaborators include Gallaudet University Regional Center, Northeast Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service, Boys & Girls Club of Lynn, MA, and Bridge Multimedia.
The project will advance knowledge in the field of deaf education in informal settings. The research questions are: 1) How do adolescents who are deaf or hard of hearing integrate and use digital versions of firsthand stories from members of the STEM workforce? 2) How do parents and club leaders make use of the stories? 3) What kind of outcomes are made possible by using the stories such as interest in STEM careers 4) What modifications and additional would improve the stories to make them more useful and effective? 5) What dissemination strategies would maximize story use? The project will do a formative evaluation of the pilot videos using a sample of 30 family groups and 10 boys? and girls? participants. Families will meet with researchers at one of the collaborating institutions (Gallaudet University Regional Center East, Northeast Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service or TERC) depending on where they live. The researcher will work with one family or adolescent at a time. They will view the videos on a computer while the researchers observe and record data. After viewing the videos, researchers will ask them questions about what they learned, what might be added, changed, or improved. They will be asked to look at the videos later on their home computers and do things such as select a STEM career for further research. Additional data collection will involve completing a post-use online survey for adolescents and their parents.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.