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Developing YOUth! Project

Measuring the long-term impact of a STEM-based out-of-school time program

October 14, 2020

2020 Updates

Posted by Aaron Price on October 14, 2020

The Developing YOUth! Study started about five years ago, with a grant from the National Science Foundation. That grant ended officially on August 31, 2020. However, we are happy to announce that we received a new grant from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust to continue the study for three more years. That means we can continue to follow all participants through the end of their college experience. 

This year we received surveys from 227 participants - 64 in the treatment and 163 in the control group. We have a higher number of control group participants because typically control group respondents drop out of long studies like this at a higher rate than the treatment group (presumably because they are not as attached to the study since they did not get the “treatment”, which in this case was participation in our Science Minors and Achievers study). But for us our attrition rate is about the same between the groups. So far about 75% participants who started the study are still in it. For some that means five years of surveys! For others only three (so far), depending on when they joined. We stopped recruiting new participants in 2018, so it’s important that all participants fill out their surveys every year. Happily, we’re now seeing some participants get married and change names and e-mail addresses. This is a wonderful reminder about the power of longitudinal studies and that we are working with real people progressing through life! But also please remember to let us know when your name and contact information has changed.

This year we were unable to do the annual summer interviews due mostly to the chaos created by the pandemic. With this new grant, we can now resume them next year. The qualitative portion of our study is just as important as the quantitative portion in that it gives us insight into things that can’t be easily measured with surveys. They show us the why and how to go along with the who, what and where that surveys are traditionally good at answering.

This is a unique study. Following youth as they enter college and then graduate into their careers is difficult. So much is changing and fluid in life at that stage, which is also why it is so important to study what is happening at this key moment in time. The results of this study have the potential to have a large impact on the fields of after-school/out-of-school learning and STEM education. We even hope to continue the study even beyond the next three  years – to see how high school science experiences impact youth into early adulthood. But right now we’re focused on the college experience for the next three years. Then we’ll decide what comes next. We hope you can continue with us along this journey. I so desperately want to share some early results with you – because they are quite fascinating (and not what we predicted!). But that would bias our data, so we have to wait another year or two before we do that. But rest assured, it’s coming!