Exploring Latino Parent Attitudes Toward Science, Involvement in Science, and Perceptions of Value and Comfort of Family Science Events
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Diversity within teams and organizations guards against groupthink and overconfidence and improves their ability to problem solve and make predictions. Even though efforts have been made to increase diversity within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, marginalized groups are still largely underrepresented in the STEM workforce. This study focused on the Latino population gap in representation within the STEM fields. Most programs aimed at increasing Latino representation in science focus on directly encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. This study explored Latino parents’ attitudes toward science and what types of informal science activities parents engage in with their children. I organized 15 family science events in San Marcos, Texas, in which parents completed a pre- and post-event attitude toward science survey and an additional parental involvement survey to find out their attitudes towards science and what types of informal science activities they are involved in with their children. The activities and experiments performed during the family science events utilized common household items or items that were inexpensive. Twenty-two Latino parents participated in the study and 15 completed both the pre- and post-attitude toward science survey. The attitude toward science survey had 14 items and was scored using a Likert-type scale with a minimum and maximum score of 14 and 70 respectively. I used the non-parametric one-tail Wilcoxon signed-rank test to test for significant differences between the pre and post attitude toward science scores. Latino parent’s pre- and post-event attitude toward science means were 59.9 and 62.3 respectively for attending at least one family science event and this difference was found to be statistically significant with a p-value of (p=0.009). However, the effect size (Cohen’s d=0.365) was small and power (0.363) was low. On the parental involvement survey, Latino parents identified 27 science activities that they have performed with their children, with 67% of those being discovery-based indoor activities and 59% being free activities. In terms of parent participation, the majority of Latino parents (73%) preferred free activities. This study can help inform school districts, principals, teachers, and informal science education organizations on strategies for changing Latino parent’s’ attitudes toward science and increasing their involvement in their children’s science education.