NSF Awards EAGER Grant to Julius L. Davis & Jumoke K. Ladeji-Osias for Black Males in Middle School: Investigating How STEM Mentoring Programs and Experiences Influences Their Academic and Career Interest in Engineering

Black males are underrepresented in engineering majors and careers. There has been a call for Black males in K-12 classrooms to participate in informal engineering programs and mentoring programs, to expose them to engineering role models, majors and careers early in their academic careers. The purpose of this research is to: 1) examine the pedagogical strategies used in programs to determine the effectiveness in helping students understand and develop an interest in engineering concepts and determine how these strategies could be used in K-12 STEM classrooms and other programs; 2) examine the mentoring structures to determine how to increase students’ interest in engineering concepts, coursework, majors and careers; and 3) examine the program elements to determine how they help Black males develop positive self-efficacy, self-perceptions, and interest in engineering courses, majors and careers. 

Using a culturally grounded multi-level theoretical framework, this study is designed to examine the experiences of middle school-aged Black male students participating in informal engineering programs at four historically Black colleges and universities. The study will also examine the pedagogical and mentoring practices and strategies used to increase students interest in engineering concepts, coursework, majors, and careers. The study will use a mixed methods approach to collect qualitative and quantitative data sources in the form of individual and focus group interviews, surveys, video recordings, and classroom observations. The results from this study have the potential to shed light on middle school-aged Black males in informal engineering programs and the instructional and mentoring practices from these program that can be used in K-12 STEM schools and classrooms to teach and engage Black male student populations in engineering topics.