Any STEM OST practitioner wrestles with this question. As the field of STEM OST becomes more diverse, as offerings increase, and a groundswell of services arises to meet the needs of youth and their families, understanding (and agreeing on) learning outcomes for STEM OST programs is important.
A recent report from the Afterschool Alliance produced with sponsorship from the Noyce Foundation and the S.D. Betchel Jr. Foundation has undertaken a study to support the STEM OST community in answering this critical question. The report, entitled “Defining Youth Outcomes for STEM Learning in Afterschool,” aimed to identify the STEM learning outcomes that STEM OST program leaders and supporters believe are best practice for STEM OST programs. The report examines which indicators of progress toward the outcomes should be, and what good measurement and evaluation for these indicators would resemble. One caveat to consider is the fact that the evaluation methods outlined do not always include tools that have been created – some are on practitioners’ wish lists, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from digging in to think about how they might learn from the research encompassed by this report, and join the conversation with their own perspectives.
You can access the report here, and join us at the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative’s LinkedIn page to share your thoughts on the report and talk with us about the ideal outcomes for STEM OST programs, the indicators for those learning outcomes, and how they might be measured. If you have methods you like, we’d love to learn about those to share them with the community!