STEM Professional Development for Youth Workers: Results of a Triangulated Study

Melissa Pearman Fenton, Leslie Hawley, Saundra Wever Frerichs, Kathleen Lodl

Abstract


To increase the quality of informal science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities, many youth development professionals working in out-of-school time (OST) programs need professional development focused on facilitating these types of activities. Nebraska Extension developed an open-access repository of resources that support an ongoing, blended approach to STEM professional development for youth workers. The current study evaluated the impact on staff, programs, and youth achieved by implementing Click2Science resources in sites at a large youth serving organization. Data sources included site or program director/coordinator and frontline staff perceptions about their experiences during the professional development events, observations of staff facilitating STEM learning with youth, and youth interest in STEM. Findings demonstrated an increase in STEM program quality, as measured by the Dimensions of Success (DoS) Observational Tool (n.d.). Site or program director/coordinators and frontline staff found the professional development eye-opening and user friendly, and noted increased youth engagement following the intervention. Youth reported positive perceptions of STEM learning experiences. Triangulation of these three sources confirmed the promising utility and effectiveness of this professional development approach. Further research is needed to extend the preliminary findings and support the case for increased investment in STEM professional development for youth development professionals.


Keywords


professional development; STEM pedagogy; triangulated evaluation; youth worker skills

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2019.738

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