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Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) outreach programs are partnerships between K-12 schools and higher education in nine states. MESA efforts introduce integrated experiences in science, mathematics and engineering to K-12 students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the STEM disciplines. This exploratory study examined the influence of selected MESA activities on students' self-efficacy, their perceptions of engineering, and their interest in engineering and other STEM fields. Field trips, guest lecturers, design competitions, hands-on activities and student career and academic advisement were of specific interest in this survey. The project also investigated the relationship between student engagement in MESA and academic performance. The results are applicable to a number of organizations with similar aims and provide information for increasing the number of engineers from underrepresented populations. This project provides insights on activities used in informal settings that can be employed in classroom practice and instructional materials to further engage students, especially students from underrepresented groups, in the study of STEM.

MESA sites in California, Maryland, Utah and Washington participated in the survey. In some cases, one of the investigators met with a group of MESA advisers during a regional planning meeting to describe the purpose of the study and potential outcomes. In other instances, a member of the local or regional MESA leadership team was briefed about the MESA study by one of the investigators and then this leader described the study to a group of MESA advisers (or MESA teachers) during a planning meeting and suggested that they contact one of the investigators if they were interested in participating in the study. Utah school districts had an additional IRB process that had to be approved by the district assessment coordinator before MESA schools could participate. MD, WA and CA did not require any additional IRB approvals.

Additional Files

Project Outcomes Report.pdf (91 kB)
Supplemental Summary of Full Report