My STEM Story: Scaling STEM Motivation through Digital Storytelling and Near Peer

Grants and Contracts Details


The proposed ITEST Strategies project, My STEM Story: Scaling STEM Motivation Through Digital Storytelling and Near Peer Relationships, will develop and test a technology-enabled intervention embedded in near peer relationships with student- and professionally-generated narrative content as its focal point. Central to the intervention is a digital storytelling component in which unscripted conversations between high school students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science career pathways and undergraduate science near peers are recorded to produce powerful narrative videos that highlight academic and real-world struggles and successes in science. The hallmark of our proposed strategy is the premise that the interactions between undergraduate student and high school protégé— characterized by a high degree of cognitive and social congruence—have the potential not only to directly benefit those in the near peer relationship, but also to reach and benefit students in high school science classrooms and other learning settings through video embedded in brief social-psychological interventions. Informed by an identity-based motivation theoretical framework, the project will address guiding questions #2 and #3 by iteratively developing and testing this intervention, embedded in a near peer relationship model, with the goal of promoting students’ possible future selves through digital storytelling, with subsequent effects on proximal outcomes such as attitudes toward science, interest in science, and intentions to pursue science educational and career pathways. Of particular interest is whether this approach can broaden the participation of students from groups underrepresented in STEMrelated education pathways and career domains. Digital storytelling (DST) captures a shared experience between two individuals and preserves the raw emotions and authenticity of their interactions, then presents it in a short 3- to 4-minute video using accessible and affordable equipment. By avoiding staging or scripting, DST adheres to bedrock journalistic design principles. Locations are not scouted, and words and actions are never rehearsed. This simple mandate is what makes the stories ring true for viewers, and why DST is engaging for producers and viewers alike. My STEM Story will test how creative and reflective opportunities open up science pathways more effectively than traditional, academic-focused approaches. The project’s hypothesis is that DST videos that highlight core themes such as overcoming personal struggles and institutional barriers, learning from mistakes, dispelling misconceptions about scientists and science careers, and the reality of being a young person of color interested in science, can effectively promote science outcomes at scale. Intellectual merit. My STEM Story represents an innovative attempt to promote science outcomes through indirect, nontraditional approaches rooted in the journalism and social psychological literature. An important assumption underlying the project is that different strategies are likely needed to promote science outcomes for different groups in different learning environments. Our two-pronged approach will advance the knowledge base on near peer learning processes and inform the design and implementation of technology-based interventions. Specifically, the project will yield a greater understanding of whether and how students benefit in one-on-one near peer relationships with a focus on social-cultural knowledge, and what promise brief social-psychological interventions hold to promote science outcomes at scale. Findings from the project will elucidate the mechanisms by which DST can lead to science outcomes in racial/ethnic minority students, as well as potential moderators that might limit or enhance the effects of the intervention. Broader impacts. My STEM Story will inform the creation of new learning ecosystems by leveraging creative strategies that actively engage students’ science-related interests and aspirations through technology-rich experiences. The project will expand notions of learning environments by developing and testing a model that incorporates readily available and accessible technologies and can be flexibly implemented in formal and informal settings with diverse groups of students. Results from the project will inform program design for near peer learning as well as guide instructional decisions about the types of narratives and perspectives included in science curricula to reach students underrepresented in STEM pathways. The project will develop an online pedagogical toolkit that provides a repository of DST videos and curricular materials, as well as best practices and design principles for schools and programs that wish to develop their own set of DST narratives.
Effective start/end date4/2/218/31/23


  • University of Oregon: $93,293.00


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