They Choose to Attend Academic Summer Camps? A Mixed Methods Study Exploring the Impact of a NASA Academic Summer Pre-Engineering Camp On Middle School Students in a Latino Community
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Early exposure to engineering and mathematics career opportunities has been indicated to influence students’ decisions regarding their academic majors and career goals. This study utilized mixed methods to analyze how changes in middle school students’ affective characteristics might be linked to their future career decision-making, following participation in an integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics summer camp. As part of the summer camp, rising sixth- through eighth-grade students attended a weeklong learning experience based on a specific engineering context. Each grade level cohort participated with their same grade peers in a 36-hour, 6-day event focused on sparking their interest in engineering careers and developing their content knowledge in select science and mathematics content areas. Pre-post testing was conducted with 65 students of diverse backgrounds in grades six through eight to measure their self-reported engineering-related self-efficacy, knowledge of engineering careers, and motivation to pursue future engineering classes and careers. In addition, interviews were conducted to examine any changes in middle school camp participants’ affective characteristics of motivation, self-efficacy, and self-determination.