New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Steaming up After-School Science: Promoting Girls’ Science Identity and Affinity Development

Mark Enfield, Elon University (United States)


This paper describes three girls’ development during a year-long after-school science program. The program was designed to amplify science learning by including engineering and design experiences, employing technology to support multimedia authoring, and applying a STEAM instructional framework.  The framework of “STEAM” invited the opportunity to use creativity artistic approaches when completing science and engineering investigations and projects. The research investigated the role of STEM/STEAM in engaging the girls and supporting their identity development in science.  Following a case-study design, we examine the girls’ products and also video recordings of sessions and quick interviews. Analyses imply conclusions about these girls’ identity trajectories in science as a result of participation in this after-school science club program.  Participation was important; only two of the three girls remained throughout the year. The two girls who remained in the program demonstrated identity development in science. By the end of the year both girls positioned themselves as scientific thinkers in their final products. However, creativity and design – the Art in STEAM – did not seem to have a significant impact. While nearly all activities included opportunities to engage creativity either to present knowledge or when conducting investigations and design problems, there was no evidence these opportunities and inclusions impacted the girls’ engagement. These findings challenge science education researchers and practitioners to think about the arguments for and against employing the STEAM framework, as well as how informal STEM experiences to engage and support girls’ science identity and affinity.

Keywords: Informal education, girls’ science identities, STEM/STEAM;


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