Evaluating STEM Programs in Public Institutions in Communities: Focusing on Equity (2015)

Penuel, W. R. (2015, August). Evaluating STEM programs in public institutions in communities: Focusing on Equity. Paper presented at the STEM and Libraries Conference, Denver, CO.

Broadening participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a priority for educational organizations at the local, state, and national levels. Broadening participation means more than preparing future STEM professionals. It also means preparing people to draw upon STEM knowledge and practices for civic engagement and to address the needs of their communities. Evaluation of such programs must attend to the broad range of goals for STEM participation, document equity of opportunity to participate in STEM-related activities across settings, and support program improvement.

In this presentation, I will begin by providing a framework for evaluating a diversity of outcomes of STEM programs in public institutions and for documenting equity in student opportunities to learn. I will illustrate how we are applying this framework to the study of STEM learning in different out of school settings that are focused on promoting interest-related learning. In the concluding part of my presentation, I will describe how evaluation can support continuous improvement of STEM programs in libraries, helping institutions to provide more equitable opportunities for STEM learning that lead to valued outcomes for participants and communities.