Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Kedmon Hungwe

Committee Member 1

Shari Stockero

Committee Member 2

John Irwin


The objective of the study was to investigate middle school students’ attitudes towards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), as well as their knowledge about engineering practices. A quantitative design was employed with a total of 51 participants randomly assigned to two conditions. 24 students took a STEM elective course and the other 27 an equivalent course with a career focus on forensics as a career.

Over nine weeks participants took a pre and post survey on attitudes and completed a project that was assessed using a common rubric. The results on gains in student attitude were mixed. On the overall gains, the STEM course had no effect, while the forensics course had a negative gain (p

A rubric was used to assess knowledge of engineering practices in both the forensic and STEM courses. The results showed a significant difference in the category “Analyzing and Interpreting Data” (p= 0.003). Looking at each engineering practice for both classes combined “Defining problems” and “Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information” were both significantly higher (p

The mean scores of males and females were compared between the classes. Females were significantly better at the practice of “Developing and Using Models” than males with (p =0.04). Males significantly thought that they learn just as well online as in the classroom compared to females who claimed they learn better in the classroom (p =0.041).