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1 EINSTEIN GIRLS: EXPLORING STEM CAREERS, INTEREST, AND IDENTITY IN AN ONLINE MENTORING COMMUNITY By JILL RICE SCOTT A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TH E DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Jill Rice Scott
3 To my husband Noel, daughter Rachael, and son Jordan Y ou are my inspiration for life T o my Dad, Uncle Bill, and Kathy Y ou are my inspiration for STEM. To the Einstein Girls past, present, and future Y ou are my inspiration for this project.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank an d acknowledge the contributions of the six female STEM mentors and the 20 Einstein Girls who participated in this study as well as the support of my entire Lake Highland school community Special thanks to Warren Hudson and Debbie DeLoach who provide exce llent leadership for our school and are a continual sou rce of positive support and energy I would also like to thank my professional colleagues Megan Hill, Susan Keogh, and Brenda Walton for listening to my ideas, making helpful suggestions, reading and editing drafts and encourag ing me through my journey Thank you to the parents of the Einstein Girls who have entrusted me with your finest treasures your daughters. Thank you for allowing me to positively influence their lives with science and instill in them a sense of wonder. I also would like to thank and acknowledge my University of Florida community. This dissertation would have not be en possible without the leadership of my committee chair Kara Dawson who generously provided me with guidance and practical advic e t hroughout the entire process. I would like to thank my committee members Rose Pringle, Kent Crippen, and Ana Puig who offered me acute insights into sci ence education, STEM education, and qualitative research I would also like to thank Swapna Kumar and our Educational Technology Cohort B We have become a community of practitioner researchers who represent the tradition of excellence that is the University of Florida. Finally, I wholeheartedly thank my family for your love, support, and inspiration through out the entire doctoral jou rney. Thank you Rachael for listening to my ideas and sharing your stories ; these formed the foundations f o r the Einstein Girls program Thank you Jordan for encouraging me to be my best and for always making me laugh
5 You are a loyal and insightful son M ost of all, thank you Noel for being my love, my best friend, and my ro ck. Thank you for our endless discussions about everything true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Thank you for being my sou nding board and guide. Thank you for your expertise as a t echnical writer and editor Because of you, this dissertation is complete.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 12 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 13 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ........................... 14 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 15 CHAPTER 1 ENCOURAGING GIRLS IN STEM ................................ ................................ ......... 17 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 17 Girls May be Encouraged into STEM through K 12 Education ............................... 21 Problem of Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ 24 Einstein Girls ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 25 Online Mentoring Community ................................ ................................ ........... 26 Purpose of Project ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 26 Research Design ................................ ................................ .............................. 27 Trustworthiness of Research ................................ ................................ ............ 29 ................................ ................................ ................. 30 Significance of Research ................................ ................................ .................. 30 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 31 Organization of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 31 2 CURRENT STATUS OF STEM ................................ ................................ .............. 33 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 33 What is STEM? ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 33 S TEM Occupations ................................ ................................ .......................... 34 Women in STEM Occupations ................................ ................................ ......... 36 STEM Majors in College ................................ ................................ ................... 37 Women in STEM Majors ................................ ................................ ................... 38 K 12 STEM Education ................................ ................................ ............................ 39 K 12 Science Learning for Girls ................................ ................................ ........ 41 Achievement for Girls in Science ................................ ................................ ...... 41 ................................ .............. 42 Educational Factors ................................ ................................ .......................... 42 Social and Cultural Factors ................................ ................................ .............. 43 Intrapersonal Factors ................................ ................................ ....................... 44 Science interest and STEM inter est ................................ ........................... 45 Science identity ................................ ................................ .......................... 49
7 Perception of science ................................ ................................ ................. 50 Attitudes toward science ................................ ................................ ............ 51 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 52 3 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 54 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 54 Theoretical Framework for the Einstein Girls Program ................................ ........... 54 The Einstein Girls as an Informal Science Learning Program .......................... 55 Benefits of ISL programs ................................ ................................ ............ 56 Science learning strands ................................ ................................ ............ 57 The Einstein Girls program ................................ ................................ ........ 58 Other successful ISL programs ................................ ................................ .. 59 Challenges of ISL progr ams ................................ ................................ ....... 60 Other Theories that Inform the Einstein Girls Program ................................ ..... 61 Constructivism ................................ ................................ ........................... 62 ISL and constructivism ................................ ................................ ............... 64 Social constructivism ................................ ................................ ................. 65 Student centered learning environment ................................ ..................... 66 Learning communities ................................ ................................ ................ 67 Online learning communities ................................ ................................ ...... 69 Situated learning ................................ ................................ ........................ 72 The Ein stein Girls and Mentoring ................................ ................................ ............ 73 Theoretical Grounding for Mentoring ................................ ................................ 74 Cognitive apprenticeship ................................ ................................ ............ 75 Mentoring functions ................................ ................................ .................... 76 Mentoring models ................................ ................................ ...................... 7 7 Mentoring and girls in science ................................ ................................ .... 78 Challenges associated with mentoring ................................ ....................... 79 Online Mentoring ................................ ................................ .............................. 80 Edmodo ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 82 The Einstein Girls online mentoring community ................................ ......... 83 4 METHODOLOGY: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ONLINE MENTORING COMMUNITY ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 85 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 85 Design of Online Mentoring Community ................................ ................................ 87 The Mentoring Component ................................ ................................ ............... 87 Online Mentoring ................................ ................................ .............................. 88 Edmodo as the Online Platform ................................ ................................ ........ 89 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 90 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 90 Einstein Girls ................................ ................................ .............................. 90 Einstein Girls parents ................................ ................................ ................. 91 Female STEM mentors ................................ ................................ .............. 91 Director ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 93
8 Roles of the Participants ................................ ................................ ................... 94 Role of Einstein Girls ................................ ................................ ................. 94 Role of mentors ................................ ................................ .......................... 96 The Project ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 97 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 100 Research Question 1 ................................ ................................ ...................... 100 Data collection ................................ ................................ ......................... 100 Data analysis ................................ ................................ ........................... 102 Research Question 2 ................................ ................................ ...................... 108 Data collection ................................ ................................ ......................... 108 Data analysis ................................ ................................ ........................... 109 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 110 5 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 111 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 111 Research Question 1 ................................ ................................ ............................ 111 Analysis of Participation by Community Members ................................ ................ 111 The Students ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 112 Student Frequencies of Participation ................................ .............................. 112 Student Approach to the Community ................................ .............................. 113 The Mentors ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 114 Mentor Frequencies of Participation ................................ ............................... 115 Mentor Approach t o the Community ................................ ............................... 115 Student and Mentor Interactions ................................ ................................ ........... 116 Identifying Types of Interactions ................................ ................................ ..... 116 Terminal discussion thread ................................ ................................ ...... 116 Group terminal discussion t hread ................................ ............................ 117 Associated terminal discussion thread ................................ ..................... 118 Extended discussion thread ................................ ................................ ..... 119 Frequencies of Interactions ................................ ................................ ............ 120 Thematic Analysis of Online Discussions ................................ ............................. 122 Career Exploration ................................ ................................ ......................... 122 Introductory posts by mentors ................................ ................................ .. 122 Code 1: Specific questions for each mentor ................................ ............. 125 Code 2: Mentor daily routine ................................ ................................ .... 128 Code 3: Mentor career cho ice ................................ ................................ .. 129 Code 4: Mentor career satisfaction ................................ .......................... 130 Code 5: Mentor career challenges ................................ ........................... 132 Code 6: Mentor educational pathways ................................ ..................... 133 Co de 7: Collaboration with peers ................................ ............................. 134 Code 8: Advice from mentors ................................ ................................ ... 135 STEM Interest ................................ ................................ ................................ 138 Code 9: Timing of interest ................................ ................................ ........ 138 Code 10: Sources of interest ................................ ................................ .... 140 Code 11: Nature of interest ................................ ................................ ...... 142 Science Identity ................................ ................................ .............................. 143
9 Code 12: Science person ................................ ................................ ......... 144 Code 13: Attracted to science ................................ ................................ .. 145 Code 14: Shaped by surr oundings ................................ ........................... 145 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 146 Research Question 2 ................................ ................................ ............................ 147 ................................ ................. 147 Edmodo site operation ................................ ................................ ............. 147 Impressions of mentors ................................ ................................ ............ 149 Exploring STEM careers ................................ ................................ .......... 151 Increase in STEM interest ................................ ................................ ........ 152 Increase in science identity ................................ ................................ ...... 153 Personal satisfaction with program ................................ .......................... 153 ................................ .................. 154 Features of Edmodo site ................................ ................................ .......... 155 Benefits to students ................................ ................................ ................. 156 Opportunity to motivate girls in STEM ................................ ...................... 156 Personal satisfaction with program ................................ .......................... 157 ................................ .................... 157 ................................ ..................... 159 Rating the OM C ................................ ................................ .............................. 160 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 161 6 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 162 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 162 Discussion of RQ 1 ................................ ................................ ............................... 163 Each Einstein Girl Participated in Her Own Way ................................ ............ 163 Numbers of questions posted ................................ ................................ .. 164 Types of questions posted ................................ ................................ ....... 166 Numbers of mentors questioned ................................ .............................. 168 Posted from school and home ................................ ................................ 170 Each Mentor Participated in Her Own Way ................................ .................... 171 Number of answers posted ................................ ................................ ...... 171 Timing of posts ................................ ................................ ......................... 173 Other comments ................................ ................................ ...................... 176 Variety of Discussion Threads ................................ ................................ ........ 177 Thematic Analysis ................................ ................................ .......................... 182 The a priori codebook ................................ ................................ .............. 182 Career exploration ................................ ................................ ................... 186 STEM interest. ................................ ................................ ......................... 190 Science identity ................................ ................................ ........................ 192 Other comments ................................ ................................ ...................... 192 Discussion of RQ 2 ................................ ................................ ............................... 193 Perceived Opportunities ................................ ................................ ................. 194 The Einstein girls ................................ ................................ ..................... 194 The mentors ................................ ................................ ............................. 196 Perceived Constraints ................................ ................................ .................... 198
10 The Einstein Girls ................................ ................................ ..................... 198 The mentors ................................ ................................ ............................. 199 Emerging Questions ................................ ................................ ............................. 201 Was Mentoring a One Way or Two Way Process? ................................ ........ 201 Was a Sense of Community Formed? ................................ ............................ 204 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 205 7 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ 206 Implications for Action ................................ ................................ ........................... 206 Transferability of Research ................................ ................................ ............. 207 Components of an OMC ................................ ................................ ................. 208 Design of the community ................................ ................................ ......... 208 Selecting the online delivery system ................................ ........................ 209 Selecting the student participants ................................ ............................ 210 Preparing the stude nt participants ................................ ........................... 211 Selecting the mentors ................................ ................................ .............. 212 Preparing the mentors ................................ ................................ ............. 213 The role of the facilitator ................................ ................................ .......... 215 Evaluating the community ................................ ................................ ........ 217 S uggestions for New Research ................................ ................................ ...... 218 Concluding Thoughts ................................ ................................ ............................ 219 APPENDIX A A PRIORI CODEBOOK FOR RQ 1 ................................ ................................ ...... 221 B ................................ ................................ .............. 222 C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR GIRLS ................................ ................................ 223 D FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS FOR MENTORS ................................ .................. 224 E PARENT INTRODUCTION LETTER TO STUDY ................................ ................. 225 F PARENTAL CONSENT FORM ................................ ................................ ............. 226 G MINOR ASSENT SCRIPT ................................ ................................ .................... 227 H PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM ................................ ................................ ........ 228 I MENTOR TRAINING DOCUMENT ................................ ................................ ...... 229 J LIST OF SUGGESTED QUESTIONS ................................ ................................ ... 230 K PROTOCOL A TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE ................................ ............................... 231 L PROTOCOL B TRANSCRIPT SAM PLE ................................ ............................... 232
11 M PROTOCOL C TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE ................................ ............................... 233 N PROTOCOL D TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE ................................ ............................... 234 O CODED THEME SAMPLE ................................ ................................ .................... 235 P RQ 1 THEMATIC MAP ................................ ................................ ......................... 236 Q RQ 2 CONCEPT MAP ................................ ................................ .......................... 237 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 238 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 253
12 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Dissertation format ................................ ................................ ............................. 32 4 1 Research design for capstone project ................................ ................................ 86 5 1 Einstein Girls partipants ................................ ................................ .................... 113 5 2 Female STEM mentors ................................ ................................ ..................... 115 5 3 Discu ssion threads ................................ ................................ ........................... 121 5 4 Career exploratio n codes ................................ ................................ ................. 124 5 5 STEM interest codes ................................ ................................ ........................ 140 5 6 Science identity codes ................................ ................................ ...................... 143
13 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Welcome to Edmodo screenshot. ................................ ................................ ....... 83 4 1 Post sent for moderation screenshot. ................................ ................................ 95 4 2 Einstein Girls group locked screenshot. ................................ ............................. 96 4 3 Dr. M initial post screenshot. ................................ ................................ .............. 98
14 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ISL ILS refers to informal science learning and can be used to supplement traditional science education programs. These often take place ou tside of school and may include, but are not limited to, after school programs, summer camps, off site field trips, and science museum visits. Quality ISL programs should utilize the best practices of inquiry based learning, problem solving, peer collabor ation, hands on training, career exploration, and interactions with practicing scientists, engineers, and other experts. OMC OMC refers to an online mentoring community. Online mentoring is defined as a relationship between a mentor and a protg which p rovides learning, advising, encouragi ng, prompting, and modeling. Online mentoring is accomplished through the Internet and can connect mentors with protgs from any place at any time. SCLE SCLE refers to a student centered learning environment. This t ype of environment is designed to provide self directed interactive activities that enable the participants to address their unique learning interests and needs. In an SCLE, the participants engage in complex open ended problem contexts enriched with reso urces, technology tools, and scaffolding among the members and make meaning and construct knowledge while engaged in authentic and real world activities. STEM STEM is an acronym that refers to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
15 Abstr act of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for th e Degree of Doctor of Education EINSTEIN GIRLS: EXPLORING STEM CAREERS, INTEREST, AND IDENTITY IN AN ONLINE MENTORING COMMUNITY By Jill Rice Scott December 2013 Chair: Kara Dawson Major: Curriculum and Instruction The purpose of this project was to create and study an online mentoring community that connected fifth and sixth grade girls and female STEM me ntors. The project was designed to give g irls who were interested in science the chance to communicate online with women who were successful STEM professionals. The community provided the girls a venue to ask the women questions about their careers, thei r interests, and their science identities. Through this venue the girls were able to explore various STEM careers, be exposed to role models, and potentially increase their interest in science for the future. Mentoring has been shown to have a positive im pact on girls and help improve their attitudes toward science and interests in STEM. The project examined the nature opportunities and constraints of the community. The girls were members of an after school academy and the mentoring took place through the Internet using a secure educational social networking program. The program spanned a four week period between April and May 2013.
16 The main purpose of this study was formativ e since online mentoring is a relatively new area of research. This investigation produced detailed accounts of activities between the girls and the mentors. Findings revealed that the participants approached the community uniquely and explored many aspe cts of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity. The participants also identified what they perceived as the opportunities afforded by the community as well as the constraints posed by the community. The research represented by this study w as practitioner research with the work connecting theory with practice. The knowledge gained through the intentional reflection on and study of the Einstein Girls online mentoring community was useful in the production of knowledge that is transformative practice and transferable to other settings. The results of this study are most applicable to online mentoring programs with similar contexts and demographics, but are also applicable to other online mentoring communities Findings from this study have direct implications in the design and operation of future online mentoring programs.
17 CHAPTER 1 ENCOURA GING GIRLS IN STEM Introduction S cience, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which are collectively known by the acronym STEM, represent the achievements that reflect the power of imagination, drive the market, and constitute critical a spects of the future economy, job creation, and global competitiveness (Beede et al., 2011; Carnevale, Smith, & Melton, 2011; National Research Council [NRC], 2011). I nnovation, knowledge, creativity, and competit ion are at the heart of the U.S. ec onomy and require the development of sufficient science and mathematics talent (Beede et al., 2011; Carnevale et al., 2011; Hill, Corbett, & St. Rose, 2010). STEM permeates nearly every aspect of modern American life and rep resents the key to meeting many of our most urgent challenges The principal driving force of the future U.S. economy and accompanying creation of jobs will be innovation, largely derived from advances in science and enginee ring (National Aca demy of Sciences [NAS], 2012). In addition, an increasing number of jobs will require knowledge of science and technology (NRC, 2011). According to the National Science Foundation (NSF, 2010), a key strategy for the Uni ted States is the cultivation of a world class, broadly inclusive science and engineering force and an expansion of the scientific literacy of all citizens. U.S. Department of Labor workforce projections for 2018 show that a majority of the fastest growin g occupations will and significant scientific training (Hill et al., 2010) T he demands for STEM competencies will be especially important in healthcare profession al and business services (Carnevale et al., 2011). A report from the U.S. Department of Commerce
18 demonstrate s that growth in STEM related fields was three times faster than non related fields over the past ten ye ars, and that these American workers command higher wages than their non related counterparts (Langdon, McKittrick, Beede, Khan, & Doms, 2011). The U.S. must continue dev elop ment of scientific talent s to meet t he ne eds of a changing economy and society Over the past half century, data from the NSF, the NRC, the RAND RaDiU S database, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics have indicate d significant shortages of scientists and engineers in the United States (Butz et al., 2003; Carnevale et al., 2011; NAS, 2007; 2012; NSF, 2006b; 2010; 2011a; 2012). Such shortages affect the competitiveness and growth of the U.S. as well as our long term economic and national security (Butz et al., 2003). O ur universities are not producing enough professionals to successfully fill and compete in global science and technology market s (Butz et al., 2003; Carnevale et al., 2011; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2012; Tai, Liu, Maltese, & Fan, 2006). As a result, the U.S. has come to rely increasingly on imported talent in research laboratories, software development houses, and product design centers (Carnevale et al., 2011; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2010; Tai et al., 2006). I nfusions of talent are no longer a supplement they are a necessary part of our American enterprise. The value of imported talen t is evident in an increasingly competitive and innovative marketplace, as our dependence reflects weaknesses and vulnerabilities that cannot be overlooked. There are not enough American college students majoring in science and technol ogy disciplines, causing a measureable gap between open STEM positions and qualified graduates to fill those positions (Carnevale et al., 2011; NSF, 2010). A concerted effort is underway to encourage a new
19 generation of STEM innovators by identifying and developing human resources (NSF, 2010). The NSF (2010) call s for a t ensure the long term prosperity for our country Too many of NSF, 2010, p. 1). This is a key reason for the shortage of scientists and engineers in the U.S The STEM workforce is crucial to American global competitiveness and innovative capability, yet women are underrepresented in related careers relative to thei r position in the overall labor market (Beede et al., 2011; Butz et al., 2003; Carnevale et al., 2011; Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; NSF, 2011b). There are a number of supporting studies that document the shortage of women in some STEM occupations, such as those requiring engineering and technology skills (Beede et al., 2011; Butz et al., 2003; Carnevale et al., 2011; Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Lawrence & Mancuso, 20 12; NSF, 2006b; 2011b; 2012). While women make up about half of the U.S. workforce they make up approximately 25 percent of the science and engineering labor market (Beede et al., 2011; Halpern et al., 2007; NSF, 2006c). Women have made g ains over the past several years in terms of science and technology employment but are still underrepresented in some key occupations such as engineering, computer science, and mathematics (Beede et al., 2011; Carnevale et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010; Lawrence & Mancuso, 2012; NSF, 2011b). A number of researchers have questioned why women are still underrepresented in some STEM areas (American Association of University Women [A AUW], 1992; 1994;
20 Baker & Leary, 1995; Barton, Tan, & Rivet, 2008; Brickhouse, Lowery, & Schultz, 2000; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Jones, Howe, & Rua, 2000; Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998; Kahle & Lakes, 1983; NAS, 20 12; Papadimitriou, 2004; Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Weinburgh, 1995). Th e underrepresentation of women in related jobs may be attributable to educational factors, social and cultur al factors, and intrapersonal factor s (Beede et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010; NAS, 2012). The shortage of women in STEM professions translates to an untapped opportuni ty to expand related employment in the U.S (Beede et al., 2011 ; NSF, 2007; Purcell, 2012 ). To remain competitive in a changing global economy the U.S. needs to broaden participati on by encou raging more women to enter the STEM pipeline (NAS, 2007; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2006a; 2010; 2011b). Since most STEM careers require a related degree emphasis should be made on attracting females into the pipeline when they are young, well before the time they en roll in college and choose majors (Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering [CEOSE], 2004; Maltese & Tai, 2010; Purcell, 2012; Tai et al., 2006). T he NRC (2011) has recommended improved K 12 science and technology education in the U.S. to encourage more girls to choose related college trajectories and careers T here appears to be a correlation between K 12 education and the development of women STEM professionals ( Building Engineering & Science Talent [BEST], 2004 ; NAS, 2012 ; Purcell, 2012 ). The NAS (2012) maintains that the most pressing challenge facing the U.S. educational system is to provide opportunities for all students for learning. The NAS (2007) encourages our schools to provide stu dents with exemplary
21 K 12 science and mathematics curriculum modeled on world class standards. The NRC (2011) submits specific goals for K 12 STEM education includ ing strategies to broaden the participation of women in related f ields and the workplace. In addition to quality K 12 education, the NSF (2010) outlines recommendations to prepare for the next generation of encourag ing more girls t o become STEM leaders. T he U.S. coherent evidence based recommendations that educators can use to encourage girls in the fields of math and science recommend strategies designed to encourage more girls in science and mathematics Some of the strategies include : fostering a supportive educational environment spar k ing initial curiosity and encourag ing long term interest utilizing high quality informal enrichment programs which stimulate interest exposing girls to female role models who have succeeded in science and technology caree rs, and expanding school computer infrastructures to connect girls with STEM mentors in the scientific research community (Hal pern et al., 2007; NSF, 2010). Girls May be Encouraged into S TEM through K 12 Education W omen major ing in STEM fields at the university level mu st become interested in science and mathematics early on since these majors require the rigor of upper level high school courses (Purcell, 2012) For girls to take demanding science and mathematics courses in high school, advanced level prerequisite courses are usually taken during the middle school years. Therefore i t is apparent that girls need to become interested in science and STEM early on, well before entering high school This may help encourage girls to enroll in rigorous science and mathematics courses better
22 preparing them for STEM majors and careers (Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; NRC, 2011; Purcell, 2012; UMass Donahue Institute, 2011). G irls in upper elementary and middle school are at a critical point in their scientific, technical, and mathematical development (Reis & Graham, 2005) According to a number of sources, g ender differences in science interest are minimal during the elementary school years but appear to increase during middle school and high school with girls becoming increasi ngly less interested in science than boys (AAUW, 1994; 2004; Andre, Whigham, Hendrickson, & Chambers, 1998; Archer et al., 2010a; Archer, DeWitt, Dillon, Osborne, & Wong, 2010b; Blue & Gann, 2008; DeWitt et al., 2010; Farland Smith, 2009; Hill et al., 2010 ; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; NAS, 2012; NRC, 2011; Purcell, 2012; Reis & Graham, 2005; Skamp & Logan, 2005). Specifically, young girls have been shown to demonstrate an interest in science and positive attitudes towards science at age 10, but show declines in both by age 14 (Archer et al., 2010a; Archer et study of science has been largely formed and the implication is that intervention after this point in their schooli ng may become increasingly more difficult. S cience identity has also been explored as a factor of how, why, and when girls engage in science (Archer et al., 2010a; Barton et al., 200 8; Brotman & Moore, 2008; DeWitt et al., 2010; Farland Smith, 2009). performance in scientific practices with deep thinking, knowledge, understanding, and engagement in science (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Carlone, 2004). Farland Smith (2009) stated that science identity refers to someone who maintained
23 school girls are especially vulnerable 415). Kahle (1990) added that middle school is the time when some girls develop negative feelings towards science and science classes This may cause some girls to no longer con sider certain STEM fields, such as engineering, as a potential career. I t is important for schools and teachers to encourage an interest for girls in science as early as possible since their i nterest may decline during the transition to middle school A n excellent science program that begin s strong at the elementary school level may form an essential foundation stimulat ing science This may influence them to select the demanding courses in science and mathematics needed to succeed in middle school, h igh school, college and in their careers (NRC, 2007; NSF, 2010; Purcell, 2012). In addition, i nformal and enrichment programs ma y encourage more girls in STEM. G irls may benefit from exposure to female scientific role models through mentoring opportunities (Halpern et al., 2007; NSF, 2010; Purcell, 2012) Involving girls in informal science, enric hment, and mentoring programs may also influence them to pursue science a nd mathematics trajectories in school and in college (Afterschool Alliance, 2011; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Farland Smith, 2009; Heilbronner, 2009; Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; Maltese & Tai, 2010; NAS, 2012; NRC, 2011; Patrick, Ma ntzicopoulos, & Samarapungavan, 2009; Tai et al., 2006; Vanmali & Abell, 2009) Perhaps Purcell (2012) framed the argument best when sh e said As a country we stand to gain a lot by exposing young girls to STEM fields and encouraging those who are interested to follow their hearts and minds (p. 17)
24 Problem of Practice For the past 21 years, I have directed a science enrichment labor atory based program as a part of my professional practice. Science enrichment is offered to students from grades three through six as a part of a Lower School that serv e s students from grades Pre Kindergarten through six. The Lower School is a PK 6 di vision of a PK 12 private college preparatory independent day school in an urban city in Florida. In a typical school year over 500 students participate in my enrichment program. S ince the school services students from grades Pre Kindergart en through twelve, I have the unique opportunity to follow the progress of many former students from the time they leave my program until they graduate from high school and enter college. In 2006, I enrolled in the Educational Specialist program at the Uni versity of encourage more girls into science and STEM. During the first course in the program I was asked to find my passions as an educator by moving through a series of exercises designed to explore my teaching strategies, practices, curriculum, and beliefs as a teacher inquirer (Dana & Yendol Silva, 2003). I thought about the many young girls I knew in my enrichment classes who were interested in science and saw themsel ves as science persons (Farland Smith, 2009) Some of these same girls lost interest in science and no l onger considered themselves as science persons as they moved through middle school and into high school. In addition, several pa rents talked with me about their desire to have extra science opportunities for their daughters outside of school to keep them interested and engaged in science. Two questions kept coming to mind: Why were so many girls losing interest in science and no long er considering themselves as science persons as they transitioned from elementary school to middle
25 and high school? What could I do to help encourage a long term interest and identity for these girls in science? Einstein Girls I n 2009, I took the first step in answering these questions and formed an after school program for girls in fifth and si xth grade which I called Einstein Girls This pr school academy offerings. The after school a cademy was designed to provide students enrolled in the Lower School a number of enriching opportunities for the exploration of academics, athletics, and arts. Th e goal of the Einstein Girls program was to use research based strategies to develop the interest s of more girls in science and STEM. My aim was to encourage girls in STEM before they reached the age when interest in science and science identity showed the tendency to decline. I envisioned girls working together with me after scho ol in groups with others of similar background and looked for unique activities that appealed to their interests Academy meetings included activities that allowed girls to work in laboratories, participate in scientific research, learn abo ut STEM careers, and receive face to face (F2F) mentoring from succe ssful female STEM professionals. They also participated in an online community us ing a school based social media program. Einstein Girls has been a pa rt of the after school academy for four years. During that time I have bee n building a strong network of girls interested in science (curren t and former Einstein Girls). T his group functions as a student centered learning environment (SCLE), where students are provided with self directed and real world activities which enable the m to address their unique learning interests and needs (Land, Hannafin, & Oliver, 2012). In addition, a growing group of fema le STEM professionals has become involved with the Einstein Girls, acting as guest speakers and occasionally
26 as mentors. While encouraging all underrepresented individuals in STEM should be the ultimate goal, the focus of this specific program was on enco uraging fifth and sixth grade girls to continue their pursuits of STEM through their schooling years and college, and perhaps direct them into a related career Online Mentoring Community The Einstein Girls continued to meet during the spring semes ter of 2013 with a new element added to the program. The Einstein Girls expanded their school based online community to include female STEM professionals as mentors This community functioned as an online mentoring community (OM C). Previous experiences indicated the girls were positively engaged while participating in the online community and that the format appealed to their social networking interests. During the spring semester, the OMC consisted o f 19 fifth and sixth grade Einstein Girls, one former Einstein Girl student assistant, and six female mentors. These mentors represented various branches of STEM fields and were known by me and purposefully selected by me from our school community. I served as owner and director of the community. Purpose of Project The re is a large body of research devoted to K 12 science education but very little research devoted to K 12 STEM education. I used K 12 science education research to inform much of this project but used the terms science and STEM interchangeably throughout th e project. The purpose of this capstone project was to e xamine in depth the nature of the online mentoring process, the discussions that took place between the girls and female STEM mentors, and the themes that emerged from the discussions. Special focus was placed on career exploration and the establishing or strengthening of interest in STEM and science identity for the mentees. This project
27 surrounding the online mentoring process. The following research questions guided this capstone project: 1. RQ 1: What is the nature of the online mentoring process -with special focus on 2. surrounding online mentoring? Research Design A qualitat ive research design was used to frame this study for both questions. Qualitative research was chosen in efforts to collect descriptive data to gain insight into the nature of the community (Ga y, Mills, & Airasian, 2009). To answer the first research question, I examined two aspects of the online mentoring process: the participation in the OMC by the community members and a thematic analysis of the online discussions. I completed an examinati on of the discussions that took place between the girls and the mentors. N umerical data contained within the online community program were examined to determine the frequencies of participation for each of the community members. T ranscripts of conversations that took place in the online community site were evaluated to determine the levels of partic ipation for community members. T he interactions that took place between the students and the mentors were also analyzed and classified Secondly, I explored the themes that emerged from those discussions using a thematic analysis of the online transcripts of the mentor mentee discussion threads collected during April and May 2013. The discussion threads related to the m careers, their interest in STEM, and their science identities. Each message contained in
28 (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). These transcripts were analyzed u sin g an a priori codebook developed from a variety of sources, including existing research and theories as well as my own experiences and observations (see Appendix A). This method is e (2006) since is explicitly analyst (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 84). As the data analysis progressed, codes were subsequently modified, added, merged, or deleted during the analysis using the constant comparison method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). An audit trail w as established data collection and data analysis processes are described in greater detail in Chapter 4. To anal yze the second research question, I returned to the relevant posts of the online transcripts and purposefully selected individual girls to interview. Two types of girls were interviewed: those who seemed interested in the online mentoring process and thos e who did not seem interested in the online mentoring process. In this way I was able to determine their perceptions of both the opportunities and the constraints surrounding the online mentoring process. I used transcripts from seven completed interview s collected from the selected mentees during May 2013. The interviews followed a semi structured format, which allowed me to explore issues by asking probing questions and following hunches (Maltese & Tai, 2010). The interviews took place at school and w ere video recorded and transcribed. I also conducted a focus
29 group with the six mentors The purpose of the focus group was to gather evidence related to the perceptions of the opp ortunities and constraints surrounding the online mentoring process from the perspective of the mentors The focus group followed a semi structured format. The mentors were asked questions abou t the mentoring process during the group setting and were fre e to talk with the other group members. The focus group took place at school and w as video recorded and transcribed. The data collection and data analysis processes for the interviews and the focus group are described in greater detail in Chapter 4. Trustworthiness of Research Lincoln and Guba (1985) proposed the four criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability to evaluate the trustworthiness of inte rpretive research and to insure the rigor of research C Bradley, 1993, p. 436). Efforts to increase the credibility of this study included prolonged observation and engagement of the girls and member checking of interview transcripts by the participants (Lincoln & Guba 1985) Transferab (Zhang & Wildemuth, 2009). Rich descriptions of the project and data sets were provided to allow future researchers to make judgments transferability to other settings (Zhang & Wildemuth, 2009). D ependability is the Bradley, 1993, p 437) This means the findings of t he study are consistent and may be reproduced. I provided a clear description of the design of the OMC as well as of the methods employed by this study. C onfirmability is rcher, can be
30 Bradley, 1993, p. 437). I kept coding manuals and an audit trail throughout the project. I also kept a researcher journal where I record ed observations and reflections In addition, a colleague acted as an outside observer during the focus group She kept notes during the meeting and also completed a membe r check of the final transcript an d the results of the project This research represents practitioner research and a s the principal investigator for this project, my knowledge and experience in the fields of science education and online mentoring are inherently subject to bias when conducting my research. Although attempts were made to exclude thoughts and feelings, these may have an effect on the analysis and interpretation of my results. I utilized member checking and an o utside observer to limit the potential subjectivity that may have influenced my results. Significance of Research The practice of online mentoring has potential to support the growth of individual students, guiding them and providing them positive influen ces in STEM as well as in many other areas. Research has indicated that mentoring is effective at inspiring students as they work towards their career goals (Long & Close, 2012). There is research that assesses the effectiveness of mentors when working w ith mentees in the business world or higher education (Bierema & Merriam, 2002; Blake Beard Bayne, Crosby, & Muller 2011; Garrison et al., 2001; Penny & Bolton, 2010; Simonsen, Luebeck, & Bice, 2009) and research assessing the effectivenes s of mentors when working with mentees in online mentoring communities (Burgstahler, 2006; Dorner, 2012). Halpern et al. (2007) noted there is little research matching female STEM mentors a nd role models with K 12 girls.
31 The AAUW re commends exposing girls to successful female role models and mentors as a prescriptive measure for future success in STEM (Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010) O nline mentoring communities provide a way to accomplish this measure. This area of research and practice is formative and t he results of this study were specific to the Einstein Girls program However, the findings from this study have direct implications in the design and operat ion of similar progra ms Limitation s The student participants were members of the Einstein Girls program who chose to be a part of the group as well as a part of the research study. As such, the number of student participants was relatively small (n=20). The girls were members of a private school population an d shared a common bond of interest in science ; t his may not be typical for the average fifth or sixth grade girl. The numbe r of female STEM mentors was also small (n=6) and purposefully limited. This allowed student participants the opportunity to receive specific information from various mentors within the community. Since this was not a longitudinal study, it was n schooling and career paths to determine whether or not they became STEM professionals themselves. Organization of the Study The study was organized into seven C hapters represented in Table 1 1. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the c apstone project and identifies the purpose and research problem. Chapter 2 provides an introduction to STEM and STEM occupations as well as STEM majors in college. Chapter 2 also reviews the research on K 12 STEM education and includes a discussio n on several STEM and science identity Chapter 3 of fers a literature review that examines the
32 context of the Einstein Gi rls through the theoretical framework of the program. Chapter 4 presents the two research questions the capstone project seeks to answer and includes a description of the data collection process and the data analysis procedure. Chapter 5 outline s the results of the capstone project and discuss es the nature of the online mentoring process and the participant O MC A discussion of the study is included in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 presents the implications of the study and suggestions for future research. Table 1 1. Dissertation format Chapter Title Summary 1 Encouraging girls in STEM Introduction to project, description of problem of practice, and overview of project 2 Current status of STEM Introduction to STEM and STEM occupations, STEM majors in col lege, K 12 STEM education, and factors interests in S TEM 3 Literature review Review of research and literature examining the context of the Einstein Girls OMC project through the t heoretical framework of the program 4 Methodology: A qualitative analysis of the OMC Description of context of capstone project including description s of data collection and analysis procedures 5 Results Results of RQ 1 and 2 6 Discussion Discussion of RQ 1 and 2 7 Implications and conclusions Presents im plications a nd suggestions for future research
33 CHAPTER 2 CURRENT STATUS OF STEM Introducti on The purpose of Chapter 2 is to provide an overview of the current status of STEM occupations and education in the U.S. C hapter 2 examines the current status of wom en in STEM occupations and STEM education and reviews the research and literature related to girls and their science education and other science experiences. C hapter 2 co ncludes with a discussion of several factors that may affect the participation of girls in STEM. What is STEM? The acronym STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, and mat hematics. The U.S. government defines STEM in a variety of ways, but usually uses the term to refer to the physical, biological and agricultural sciences; computer and information sciences; engineering and engineering technologies; and mathematics (H ill et al., 2010). In the report Engineering Workforce the CEOSE (2004) stated that the local and global challenges of the new millennium resound with a call for the best minds to come together to apply a nd advance areas of STEM to deal with the growing complexity of the technological world For the U.S. this means that ongoing and future leadership depends on the development of science and technology talents of all of its citizens, keeping in line with the N ational Defense of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to ensure the
34 Over a half a century ago during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt effective program be proposed for discovering and developing scientific talent in American youth so that the continu ing future of scientific research in this country may be 1945, p. 1). After the war, the U.S. began a collective, coordinated, and sustained effort to recruit and educate the best and brightest that would become a new generation of innovators and leaders in science and engineering (NSF, 2010). Concern about the ability of the U.S. to be competitive in the global economy has urged a strengthening of the pipeline into these f ields (NAS, 2007; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2006a; NSF, 2010; NSF, 2011b). The National Science Board (NSB) believes that to guarantee the long term prosperity of the U.S., there must be a renewal of our commitment to excellence in education and the development of scientific talent (NSF, 2010). The call of the NSB is to develop new STEM innovators who can become leaders and creators for our society (NSF, 2010). In addition, the NSB calls for a commitment to equity and diversity and seeks to cast a wider net in finding and developing the leaders of tomorrow (NSF, 2010). STEM Occupation s The U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) defines STEM occupations as those professions that include science, tech nology, engineering and mathematics positions as well as the professional and technical support occupations in the fields of life and physical sciences, computer science, engineering, and mathematics (Beede et al., 2011). Occupations of social sciences, b ehavioral sciences, and health sciences are usually not included in these
35 definitions (Carnevale et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010) but are included in this project The ESA lists 50 specific occupations in STEM and estimates that between four and five these occupations (Beede et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010; NRC, 2011). The ESA divides STEM occupations into four categories: Computer and math, which represents approximately 47 percent of related employment; engineering and surveying, which represents approximately 33 percent of related employm ent; life and physical sciences, which represents approximately 12 percent of related employment; and STEM managerial occupations, which represents approximately 8 percent of related employment (Beede et al., 2011). An increasing number of jobs at all levels require knowledge of STEM (Carnevale et al., 2011; NAS, 2012; NSF, 2010). According to the NSF (2010), a key strategy for the future success of the U.S. is the cultivation of a world class science and engineering force and an expansion of t he scientific literacy of all citizens. However, after more than fifty years of unchallenged dominance in these field s our country is starting to lose ground to other nations ( Lemonick, 2006 ) N umerous alarms are sounding regardin g imminent shortages of scientists and engineers in the U.S. (Butz et al., 2003; Carnevale et al., 2011; Lemonick, 2006; NSF, 2010). Employers in many industries are concerned that job applicants lack needed STEM related skills to succeed, and that intern ational students are filling an increasing portion of elite positions in the U.S. (NAS, 2012). The NAS (2007) report Rising Above the Gathering Storm reiterated the alarm and indicated that in the 21st century, educated and motivated people and ideas are necessary for the The U.S. cannot afford to rely on a narrow and decreasing population segment to provide technical expertise
36 ty, prosperity, and quality of life. A vigorous innovative capability (NAS, 2007; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2006a; NSF, 2010; NSF, 2011b). Women in STEM Occupations A number of researc hers have studied the effect of gender differences in the achievement and participation in science (AAUW, 1992, 1994, 2004; Beede et al., 2011; Butz et al., 2003; CEOSE, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Lawrence & Mancuso, 2012; NAS, 2012; NRC, 2006; NSF, 1994; 2006a; 2011b). T hese researchers have offered explanations for the underrepresentation of women in some related fields. The STEM workforce is crucial to the U.S. global competitiveness and innovative capability, yet women are vastly underrepresented in related jobs despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforc e and half of the college educated workforce ( Beede et al., 2011; Halpern et al., 2007; NSF, 2006b; NSF, 2012 ). This has been the case over the past decade, even as women with college degrees have increased their percentage in the overall workforce (Beede et al., 2011) and the overall proportion of (Hill et al., 2010). According to the ESA, the proportion of women compared to men working in STEM fields remained constant at 24 percent between 2000 and 2009 (Beede et al., 2011). The NSF (2012) states that female scientists and engineers are employed in different professions than are men, with more women in the social sciences (53%) and biological and medical sciences (51%) and less women in engineering (13%) and computer and mathematical sciences (26%). In addition the representation of women in STEM occupations has varied over time, with a decline in computer and math jobs (from 30 percent to 27 percent since 2000) and a rise in other STEM jobs (Beede
37 et al., 2011). While the field of engineering represents the second largest STEM job group, only about one out of seven engineers is female (Beede et al., 2011). Men are more likely than women to have a job in a STEM field than women regardless of educational achievement (Beede et al., 2011; NSF, 2012). Even when women choose STEM degrees, their typical career paths diverge significantly from their male counterparts. Approximately 40 percent of men with STEM degrees work in re lated jobs, whereas only about 26 percent of women with STEM degrees work in related jobs (Beede et al., 2011; NSF, 2012). Participation of women in STEM has grown over the years but progress has been slow and uneven for women studying related f ields in college and choosing related career paths (Beede et al., 2011; CEOSE, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007; NSF, 2012). While there have been great strides over the past several decades, in spite of the progress fewer females than males are entering the workplace pursuing careers in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences (Halpern et al., 2007; NSF, 2012). Since women appear to be underrepresented in these jobs, this translates into an untapped opportunity to expand rel ated employment in the U.S. When female students opt out of these areas they shut the door to a growing job market and lose many scientists and engineers (Huebner, 2009). STEM Majors in College Most STEM careers require a degree in the field (Beede et al. 2011 ). The ESA identifies STEM undergraduate degree fields as computer science and mathematics, engineering, and life and physical sciences, and defines STEM degree holders as those w hose undergraduate major was in a STEM field. They do not include business, health care, or social science majors in their definition (Beede et al., 2011) but are included in
38 this project. The NSF (2006b) defines STEM undergraduate and graduate degrees as biological and agricultural sciences, chemistry, computer science, earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, engineering, mathematics, a nd physics. Data from the NSF, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, th e NRC, and the RAND RaDiUS database indicate significant shortages of scientists and engineers in the United States (Butz et al., 2003). A RAND Corporation study published in 2003 concluded that the U.S. is falling behind competitor nations in awarding sc ience and engineering degrees (Butz et al., 2003). The proportion of high school students in the U.S. that choose to graduate in STEM degrees in college is lower than in many other countries (NRC, 2007). In 2007, over one third of science and engineering graduate students were international, with more than 70 percent of those students remaining in the U.S. after earning their degrees (NRC, 2011 ). By using data obtained through the NSFWebCASPAR database, Tai et al. (2006) were able to compare the trends science and technology fields to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and non citizens. The downward trend in doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens is clearly evident. The physical sciences and engineering are at particular risk, with declines in the number of doctorates awarded in these fields over the past decade (Tai et al., 2006). Women in STEM Majors A number of researchers have written about women pursuing STEM majors in college (AAUW, 19 92, 1994, 2004; Beede et al., 2011; Butz et al., 2003; CEOSE, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Lawrence & Mancuso, 2012; NAS, 2012; NRC, 2006; NSF, 1994; 2006a; 2011b) In evaluating the current status of women in STEM fields, it is u seful to examine the extent to which workers in these jobs have related
39 degrees, but less than one third of these degrees were awarded in chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, math, or physics (NSF, 2011b). Amon g STEM majors in college, women hold a disproportionately low share of related undergraduate and graduate degrees, particularly in engineering (Beede et al., 2011, Halpern et al., 2007). The NSF (2006b) reports the percentages of engineering doctorate s earned by women in 2004 were the lowest in the subfields of mechanical engineering (11.1 percent), aeronautical engineering (11.9 percent), and electrical engineering (13.5 percent). In their report, Carnevale et al. (2011) conclude that the cur rent education system is not producing enough students proficient in STEM to meet the demands of related occupations. Broadening participation in STEM includes encouraging more women to enter the pipeline K 12 STEM Education T he N AS (2007) released a report warning that U.S. students were losing ground to international students in STEM education. When compared to global measures of science and mathematics achievement, U S. students are continuing to perform below average (NRC, 2007). Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that these performances decline as the students move from elementary school through high school (NRC, 2007). The U.S. is slipping behind other industrialized nations in K 12 science measures eneration of American students who rank far behind their peers from According to the 2010 Program for International Student Assessment report, the science scores of 15 year old students from the U.S. ranked 17th out of 34 compared to
40 other industrialized countries (Kays, 2012). Only ten percent of 8th graders from the U.S. met the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study international benchmark in science compar ed with 25 percent in China and 32 percent in Singapore (NRC, 2011). T here are reasons to be concerned about the state of STEM learning in the U.S. i n light of these statistics In their report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Hill et al. (2010) found that the transition between high school and college is a critical time when many interested young women tend to turn away from a STEM major and career path. To address these challenges, on e of the recommendations of the NAS (2007) report focuse d on ways to increase the U.S. STEM talent pool by improving K 12 science and mathematics education In their report Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators: Identifying and Dev Capital the NSF (2010) recommend ed that K p. 6). The NAS (2007) recommend ed utilizing high qualit y teaching with world class curricula, standards, and student learning assessment as a starting point for improved STEM instruction. There is a concerted effort for improvements in K 12 science education that includes the identifica tion of the science students need to know and the development of K 12 science standards that will better prepare students for college and STEM careers (NRC, 201 1 ). In addition, the NRC (2011) identified three goals for K 12 STEM education that in an increasingly science and technology p. 4). While one of the goals
41 is designed to increase STEM literacy for all students, the other two goa ls are designed to increase the participation of underrepresented groups, includ ing women, into STEM majors in college and related careers in the workforce (NRC, 2011). K 12 Science Learning for Girls R esearchers have gathered data do cumenting participation of girls in K 12 science ( Barton et al., 2008 ; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Papadimitriou, 2004). The traditional body of research aimed at recogniz ing and overcom ing flaws and deficits in science education experiences of girls (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Papadimitriou, 2004). Equity, accommodation, and social concern are also themes of research (Rennie, 1998). In addition, another current approach considers the epistemology, or the nature of knowle dge, as it relates to science and the science education of girls (Papadimitriou, 2004). Brotman and Moore (2008) recommended strategies designed to engage more girls in science The goal of the strategies was to increase the number of students who pursue degrees and careers in STEM as well as encourage more part icipation of women in those fields (NRC, 2011). Achievement for Girls in Scienc e T o increase the participation of girls in STEM, Levin Sabar, and Libman (1991) proposed an increase in their science achievement during the K 12 years There have been gains in achievement for girls over the past few decades and some studies have shown that girls and boys are achieving at science and mathematics at a comparable level (AAUW, 200 4; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Catsambis, 1995; Gilbert & Calvert, 2003; Greenfield, 1996; Halpern et al., 2007; Heilbronner, 2009; Hill et al., 2010; Huebner, 2009 ). Achievement is often quantitatively measured in t erms of school test scores and grades (AAUW, 1992; Barton et al., 2008; National Center for
42 Education Statistics, 2004), standardized test scores (AAUW, 1992; Halpern et al., 2007), course preferences (AAUW, 2004; Papadimitriou, 2004), and course selection (AAUW, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007; Papadimitriou, 2004). These achievement indicators are valuable in statistical analyses but they do not always tell the full story, since these increases have not been accompanied by a corresponding flow of girls into s ome upper level high school science courses, STEM college majors and careers (Papadimitriou, 2004). Barton et al. (2008) ma de beyond girls as a homogeneous population and beyond achievement as the only ma concurred, saying To better understand the nature of the science education experience for girls, other issues that interact with achievement and participation need to be considered such as educational factors, social and cu ltural factors, and intrapersonal factors (Kahle & Lakes, 1983; Papadimitriou, 2004). There are many factors that may affect participation of girls in STEM. These factors may be multi faceted and di fficult to study (Beede et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010; NAS, 2012). T he following factors are included in this paper : e ducational factors, social and cultural factors, and intrapersonal factors. Educational Factors Educational factors may affect girls Educational factors include, but are not limited to, the equitable treatment of girls in the science classroom (AAUW, 1992, 1994; Baker & Leary, 1995; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brotman & Moore, 2008;
43 Sadker & Sadker, 1995) and curriculum and pedagogy of science classroom s (AAUW, 1992; Brotman & Moore, 2008 ; Halpern et al., 2007). In their review of literature, Brotman and Moore (2008) found that some inequities exist in the science education experience of girls. Girls were of ten found to be treated differently in the science classroom than boys. Boys sometimes received more praise, attention, instruction, and feedback from a teacher than girls and were called on more often in class than girls (AAUW, 1992; 1994; Sadker & Sad ker, 1994). Boys were found to dominate over girls in science classrooms, especially wh en handling and manipulating lab equipment during an experiment (Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998; Kahle, Parker, Rennie, & Riley, 1993). Brotman and Moore (2008) d ocument ed instances where girls were portrayed differently than boys in some science textbooks. Strategies to overcome these barriers include improved teacher education and teacher training, and a change in the curriculum and pedagogy to include attent iveness to the interests, experiences, and learning styles of both boys and girls (AAUW, 1994; Brotman & Moore, 2008). Social and Cultural Factors Factors of culture and society may effect (Lawrence & Mancuso, 2012). Social and cultural factors may include but are not limited to, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (AAUW, 1992; 1994; Baker & Leary, 1995; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brickhouse et al., 2000; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Jones et al., 2000; Kahle & Lakes, 1983). T h e field of study is immense in nature, reaching into the areas of sociology, psychology, and philosophy (Brotman & Moore, 2008), and is beyo nd the scope of this background report. According to various researchers, differences in science participation for girls may be attributed to many factors including, but not limited to, socialization (Erwin & Maurutto, 1998; Farenga & Joyce, 1999; Kahle & Lakes,
44 1983), social interactions (Papadimitriou, 2004; Schibeci, 1984), stereotypes (AAUW, 1992; Sadker & Sadker, 1994), and family structure (Schibeci, 1984). Parents, peers, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status help shape and establish gender roles, which in turn may impact the participation of girls in science (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Lawrence & Mancuso, 2012; Papadimitri ou, 2004). Social and cultural factors often interact in multifaceted and powerful ways with educational experienc es and intrapersonal factors to influence the participation in science for the individual (Brickhouse et al., 2000). Intrapersonal Factors Intrapersonal factors may also have an effect on I ntrapersonal factors includ e 2004; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Halpern et a l., 2007; Jones et al., 2000), science identity (AAUW, 1994; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brickhouse et al., 2000; Brotman & Moore, 2008 ), perception of science (AAUW, 1994; Baker & Leary, 1995; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brickhouse et al., 2000; Br otman & Moore, 2008; Halpern et al., 2007; Jones et al., 2000; Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998 ), and attitude towards science (AAUW, 1994; Barton et al., 2008 ; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Jones et al. 2000; Kahle & Lakes, 1983). These intrapersonal factors cause a girl to construct meaning and understanding of science based on her own perceptions, attitudes, interests, and identity. As with the other factors, these factors in teract with educational experiences and social and cultural factors to influence the participation in science for the individual. The following sections describe s everal intrapersonal factors that may influence participation in science for girls
45 Science i nterest and STEM interest S cience interest and STEM interest are construct s that may influence the decision one makes to participate and persist in the study of science (Maltese & Ta i, 2010). Interest in science may be defined as the state of wanting to know or learn may be a general curiosity about how things work, for others it may be an enjo yment of the surrounding world, and for others the source of interest may come from intrinsic interests or extrinsic experiences (Maltese & Tai, 2010). Regardless of the source, having an interest in science is one of the most important reasons stu dents say they choose to pursue a science trajectory in school (Lindahl, 2007). When to encourage an i nterest Tai et al. (2006) make the case that to create a scientific job force, interest in science and STEM must be encouraged in the pre college years and as early as possible. They found that young adolescents who planned on careers in science were more likely to graduate from college with a degree in science. Based on data from over 3300 participants, they found that it was essential to develop early interest and emphasize encouragement for the exploration of sciences. science and that there was a direct correlation between this exposure and the pursuit of science in college. Several other studies highlight he importance of igniting an interest in science and STEM for students in their K 12 years to increase the numbers choosing to enter STEM fields (Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Maltese & Tai, 2010; NAS, 2012; Wigfield, Eccles Schiefele, Roser, & Davis Keen, 2006). In particular, it is important that girls become interested in science and STEM early on before entering high school so they will enroll in the kinds of courses that will
46 prepare the m for STEM majors and careers (Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; NRC, 2011 ; UMass Donahue Institute, 2011). In their report Encouraging Girls in Math and Science car eers in math and science if their interest in these fields is sparked and cultivated science education need to be made interesting and motivating for girls (Hill et al., 2010; Maltese & T ai, 2010; Tai et al., 2006; Wigfield et al., 2006). Some say that encouraging an interest in science and STEM for girls needs to take place in middle or high school (Burkam, Lee, & Smerdon, 1997; Barton et al, 2008; Cleaves, 2005) but others suggest that t he encouragement needs to take place earlier to engage them more meaningfully and support them in long term learning opportunities (CEOSE, 2004; Maltese & Tai, 2010; NRC, 2011; NSF, 2010; Reis & Graham, 2005; Tai et al., 2006). In their study of sources of early interest in science, Maltese & Tai early interest in science. The scientists they worked with were both male and female individuals w ith experience in either a chemistry or physics PhD program. Approximately 30% of the scientists indicated that their interest in science began in middle school or high school. Both men (68%) and women (66%) reported being interested in science before mi ddle school, indicating the timing to be during their K 5 years (early) or always (Maltese & Tai, 2010). This research emphasizes the importance of creating an interest for both males and females as early as possible. Young girls have been shown to exhi bit interest in science at age 10 with the interest declining sharply by age 14 (Archer et al., 2010a; Archer et al., 2010b; DeWitt et
47 al., 2010). At this point their interest in the study of science has been largely formed and life aspirations establishe d (Tytler, 2010). Gender differences in interest towards science were minimal during the elementary school years but increased from middle school upward (AAUW, 1994; AAUW, 2004; Andre et al., 1998; Archer et al., 2010a; Archer et al., 2010b; Blue & Gann, 2008; DeWitt et al., 2010; Farland Smith, 2009; Hill et al., 2010; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; NAS, 2012; NRC 2011; Reis & Graham, 2005; Skamp & Logan, 2005). According to Blue & Gann (2008), girls steadily lose interest in science over the course of their sch ooling. They state d that children enter Kindergarten with an interest for science but exhibit a decline as they progress through their K 12 years. In their study of nearly 2000 girls, they conclude that the fourth and fifth grades are the critical school years for encouraging girls in science. Jones et al. (2000) concur red and note d that the sixth grade is the defining year for science engagement with girls. The implication is that intervention after this point in schooling may become increasingly mor e difficult. I t is important to cultivate interest in science for girls as early as possible s ince interest declines fo r some girls during the transition into middle school Ideally this should happen in the primary grades and extend throughout the elementary grades. Research has shown that children enter school with a great capacity for learning science (NRC, 2007). Ch ildren are natural inquirers, and often act like scientists by posing questions, seeking answers, and using science processes (McCormack, 2010). Many early childhood specialists indicate the need for science to even be included in the primary school progr ams, stating that early science experiences are essential for children to help them develop an interest in science (Eshach & Fried, 2005; Tytler,
48 2010). Research confirms the need for the inclusion of quality science instruction at the elementary level to capture the interests of young girls (Brotman & Moore, 2008; Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998; Maltese & Tai, 2010; NAS, 2012; Patrick et al., 2009; Tai et al., 2006; Vanmali & Abell, 2009). Sources of i nterest While sources of interest in STEM and science may come traditional schooling experience. For example, the source of interest may come from an e & Tai, 2010). Maltese and Tai (2010) studied graduate students and scientists in physics and chemistry to determine the initial experiences that sparked the ir interest. They believed are a result of the complex interplay of person, considered both the nature of the experience and the source of the experience They found that the nature of the experience was often intrinsic, with many of the instances relating to activities done at home, such as reading science books, trying home experiments, or playing with electronics. For females, the source of the experience was school (52%), self (24%) In the report Under the Microscope: A Decade of Gender Equity Projects in the Sciences the AAU W (2004) found that many gender equity intervention projects to interest and a chievement in science (Kahle & Lakes, 1983). Some evidence suggests
49 that extracurricular informal learning opportunities such as informal science learning ISL programs will be discussed in further detail in C hapter 3. When girls are given the opportunity to see science inside and outside of the regular classroom as interesting and relevant to their lives, they may be more inclined to choose STEM for a career. Science i dentity Identity is difficult to define but usually refers to a social category expressed by the attributes, expected behaviors, or socially distinguished features of an individual. oretical framework that views identity as an embodied and a performed construction that is both nce in scientific practices with deep thinking, knowledge, understanding, and engagement in science (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Carlone, 2004). In addition, science identity often means that someone recognizes themsel f as a science person and gets recogn ized that way by others (Farland Smith, 2009). The identities of students are shaped by social and cultural factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (Archer et al., 2010a; Brickhouse et al., 2000). In much of the recent science li terature, the role of identity has been Brickhouse et al. (2000) used the framework of situated cognition to say that girls learn science as they see their complex identitie s coinciding with their pursuit of science or as compatible with scientific identities. They posited that once a girl decides what kind of person she is and wants to be, then she can engage in the types of activities that make
50 her a part of similar commun ities. They believed that identity formation is essential to learning since how and why a person learns connects to who they are becoming in their own lives. Tan and Barton (2007) added that the construction of identity requires the participatio n with others of similar backgrounds since identity is constructed socially within community of practices. Lave and Wenger (1991) agreed that students develop their identities through the engagement with practices of a dynamic community, such as a science class or an after school science program. For the members of such a community, learning science becomes a process of becoming to be, and of forging of identities (Farland Smith, 2009). Wenger (1998) views identity as a core outcome of human development. Brickhouse et al. (2000) have linked identity formation as a critical dimension of how and why students engage in science. Barton et al. (2008) used the idea o f practice was grounded in the sociocultural perspectives on learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991). They believed that science learning is an embodied activity. They said la For them, science learning moves beyond the memorization of content into the realm of participation in science related communities and feel that issues of identity ar e central to making sense of science practices (Barton et al., 2008). Perception of s cience The perception of science is an area where consistent differences have emerged between boys and girls (Halpern et al., 2007). Some studies have found that girls ma y perceive science as difficult to understand and oftentimes uninteresting and boring
51 (Brotman & Moore, 2008; Jones et al., 2000). Many girls underestimate their ability to succeed in science and mathematics (AAUW, 1994; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Halpern et al., 2007; Papadimitriou 2004; Sadker & Sadker, 1994). Jovanovic and Steinbach King (1998) found in one study that girls felt less certain about their science abilities at the end of a school year than they did at the beginning. They hypothe sized that the girls believed they became better in other subjects than in science as the school year progressed (Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998). describe common perceptions a alienated by science. Science is masculine, competitive, objective, impersonal -that science is a domain that be (Brickhouse et al., 2000; Farenga & Joyce, 1999; Jones et al., 2000; Kahle & Lakes, 1983). Some students have been found to identify certain courses as masculine, such as chemistry, mathematics, and physics and certain courses as feminine, such as biology, art, and language (Farenga & Joyce, 1999). These types of perceptions may influence the course selection process for girls, which in turn may influence eventual college majors and careers (AAUW, 1992). A ttitudes toward s cience The term attitude refers to the feelings one has towards something and generally refers to likes and dislikes (Koballa, 1988). The development of a positive attitude towards science is an important goal of science education (Koball a, 1988). In general, girls have less positive attitudes towards science than do boys (Baker & Leary, 1995; Catsambas, 1995; Jovanovic & Steinbach King, 1998; Kahle & Lakes, 1983; Osborne,
52 Simon, & Collins, 2003; Weinberg, 1995). In addition, it has been found that attitudes toward science decline as girls grow older and move from the elementary grades to the middle school and high school grades (Jones et al., 2000; Osborne et al., 2003; Simpson & Oliver, 1990). Girls have been shown to exhibit posi tive attitudes towards science at age 10, but exhibit less positive attitudes as the move through their early teens (Archer et al., 2010a; Archer et al., 2010b; DeWitt et al., 2010; Jones et al., 2000). ards science affects her career decisions more than her achievement in science. When these girls have less favorable attitudes towards science they may be less likely to enroll in advanced high school courses. This may in turn translate into less interes t in science careers for these girls (Catsambis, 1995; Papadimitriou, 2004). The relationship between attitude toward science and achievement in science for girls is complex and largely uninvestigated (Papadimitriou, 2004) and is difficult to separate fr om the other factors previously discussed. According to Weinberg (1995) general, there are gender differences in student attitudes toward science, or whether there are gender differences in correlations between attitudes toward science and faceted factors that may affect the participation of girls in STEM (Beede et al., 2011; Hill et al., 2010; NAS, 2012). Reg ardless of the reasons for the underrepresentation of females in STEM, efforts are related areas. S ummary to encourage m ore student s into STEM careers with girls in particular being targeted
53 (CEOSE, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007). Early exposure to science is important, since interest in science often begins to blossom in elementary school and may strongly influence future career plans (Eshach & Fried 2005; NSF, 2010; Tai et al., 20 06). Girls should be provided with a variety of excellent K 12 educational programs that spark an initial interest and encourage a sustained interest in STEM The NRC wrote a practice guide outlining several strategies designed to encourage girls in science and mathematics (Halpern et al., 2007). These strategies were based on experiments, review of literature studies, correlational studies, trends, and longitudinal studies (Halpern et al., 2007). Mentoring is a recommended strateg y and is the focus of this capstone project Th e project was designed to create and carry out an online mentor ing community which connect ed the Einstein Girls with successful female STEM professionals Chapter 3 presents a review of research and literature examining the context of the Einstein Girls OMC project through the theoretical framework of the project.
54 CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction The purpose of C hapter 3 is to provide a brief description of the Einstein Girls program and the online mentoring community that was a pa rt of the program. It will also describe the theoretical framework that informed the designs of the Einstein Girls and the online mentoring community. The need to encourage more girls into science and STEM was documented in C hapter 2. Researchers have studied issues related to gender and science education for decades and have recommended several strategies designed to engage more girls into STEM during K 12 years. The Einstein Girls was created as a program to address some of the issues related to girls and STEM utilizing recommended strategies. Theoretical Framework for the Einstein Girls Program systematic implementation of processes and procedures that are rooted in established primary assumptions that form the foundation of any notion of the teaching and learning process. Assumptions for learning are always assumed and cannot be p roven either true or false ; assumptions for learning lead to goals, strategies, and essences of instruction (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). I created the Einstein Girls program in 2009 as a response to a perceived need. I noted that several of my female students who were interested in science and saw themselves as a science person would lose that interest and identity as they transitioned from the Lower School (grades PK 6) to the Middle School (grades 7 8) and the Upper School (grades 9 12). I wondered why a decline in
55 interest often took place and considered ways I could encourage a long term interest and identity for these girls in science The Einstein Girls was created to answer some of these questions and as an attempt to encourage more girls into the STEM pipeline. I utilized the informal science learning fram ework to design and create the program. The Einstein Girls as an Informal Science Learning Program Informal science learning (ISL) is one of the strategies recommended to facilitate an interest in and an engagement of students in STEM (AAUW, 2004; NRC, 200 9). This strategy is also recommended to help build a pipeline of incoming majors and future professionals badly needed in the U.S. workforce. With the emphasis on scientific literacy for national success in the 21st century, some educators and policy ma kers looked outside the traditional science setting for ways to attract and retain more students in the STEM areas (Hussar, Schwartz, Boiselle, & Noam, 2008). The NSF describe d informal science learning as voluntary and self directed learning motivated b y curiosity, exploration, intrinsic interests, and social interaction (AAUW, 2004). This strategy focuses on the prospect of providing students with enriching out of school activities, such as after school academies, summer camps, off site field trips, a nd science museum visits. The NSF (2010) posits that quality ISL programs would utilize best practices of inquiry based learning, problem solving, peer collaboration, hands on training, career exploration, and interactions with practicing scientists, engineers, and other experts. Informal science learning settings are well positioned to encourage and Hussar et al., 2008). In 1999, the Board of the National Associati on of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) established the Informal Science Education Ad Hoc committee to focus on the
56 positioning of informal science learning (Dierking, Falk, Rennie, Anderson, & Ellenbogen, 2003). The committee recommended that science learning should include more than the experiences that take place during the school day and encouraged the establishment of outside of school learning opportunities for students (Dierking et al., 2003). The NSF recommends that informal science learning in volves projects designed to increase interest in, engagement with, and understanding of STEM by students through self directed learning experiences (Friedman, 2008). ISL projects typically offer an environment where inquiry can occur in a more casual and test free setting, allowing participants to focus on the experience s (Hussar et al., 2008) These experience s may be more personally and contextually relevant than those that are driven primarily by tests and required curriculum (Noam, Bian carosa, & Dechausay, 2003). Schwartz and science and their scientific knowledge. In addition, they found a correlation between participation in ISL programs and the increa se of selection of science related majors in college. Benefits of ISL p rograms There are beneficial reasons to u tilize ISL strategies to supplement traditional science education programs. The variety of programs available utilizing ISL are nearly limitles s even though many of the programs share similar goals (Friedman, 2008). Since they happen outside of the school, ISL programs can serve a wide population of students and can allow students to meet on a regular basis. In addition, the experiential nature of ISL programs has been shown to foster the interest in science for girls (AAUW, 2004; Hussar et al., 2008). Much of the research on encouraging girls in science focuses on exposing girls to science through ISL utilizing extra curricular clubs,
57 summer c amps, and science related activities (Anderson, Lucas, & Ginns, 2003; Farland Smith, 2009; Halpern et al., 2007; Heilbronner, 2009; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; Reis & Graham, 2005; Stake & Mares, 2005). Maltese & Tai (2010) found in their study of Ph.D. scient ists that participation in science activities outside of school played a significant positive role for girls in the development of their initial interest in science. Conversely, Jovanovic and Steinbach King (1998) fou nd a direct correlation between the lack of exposure to science related activities outside the classroom and the lack of interest in science for girls. Science learning s trand s The Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments was formed to evalua te evidences of science learning across age groups, settings, and time, and to identify six strands of science learning that articulate science specific capabilities supported by informal environments (NRC, 2009). Four of these strands are grounded in the four strands developed for K 8 science learning in the Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K 8 report by the N RC ( 2007). T wo additional strands are identified in the book Learning Sci ence in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits (NRC, 2009) that are unique to informal learning environments These strands developmentally, a NRC, 2009, p. 4). Strand 1 says NRC, 2009 p. 4) and Strand learners in informal environments think about themselves as science learners and develop an identity as someone who knows about, uses, and sometimes contributes to science ( NRC, 2009, p. 4).
58 These strands represented an important consideration in the desi gn and implementation of the Einstein Girls after school academy. Strand 1 was significant since the program offered a rich science environment that was designed to tap into prior interest and experience. M embership in the Einstei n Girls program was voluntary so it was assumed that the participants demonstrated a prior interest in science leading them to join the group Many of the participants have been in the group for multiple semesters and se veral participated in other ISL opportunities at the school such as Future Problem Solvers and Odyssey of the Mind. Strand 6 was significant to the program in that it addressed the processes by which participants built on interest and the development scie nce learning identities. Many members shared that they s aw themselves as science persons and joined Einstein Girls specifically to meet friends and improve relationships with others of similar interests. Several indicated an interest in pursuing science trajectories through middle school and high school, and considered a STEM major in college and a related career in the future The Einstein Girls p rogra m The Einstein Girls academy was a curricular innovation I created in 2009 to promote science and STEM learning in an informal after school setting The program was designed to utilize best practices of science learning, problem solving, peer collaboration, hands on training, career exploration, and interactions with practicing scientists, engineers, and other STEM experts (NSF, 2010). The Ei nstein Girls academy met in my science lab and had access to science equipment and materials, including 24 iMac computers, 4 iPads, 8 microscopes, 16 stereoscopes, digital cameras, digital microscopes, models, and various lab supplies. We also were given
59 access to school computer labs and science labs at the Upper School as well as the acre lakefront campus. Last year I completed a program evaluation of the Einstein Girls and determine d based on the various data collected that the program was a successful example of a local informal science learning program for the past four years. I found that the ISL arena was uniquely well suited to provide experiences that helped the girls make per sonal connections to science, explore STEM careers, and expand their interests and identities in science. My program and similar programs gave girls the time to investigate topics more deeply and participate in inquiry based real world STEM learning (Afte rschool Alliance, 20 1 1). By providing an opportunity to learn about STEM in STEM topics (AAUW, 2004). Other s uccessful ISL p rogram s Ot her ISL programs were designed and implemented which help ed girls connect science learning with their own lives (Afterschool Alliance, 2011; Friedman, 2008; NSF, 2010; Schwartz & Noam, 2007 ). These programs were designed utilizing research based best practices for encouraging STEM interest in girls ; some are listed in Appendix B These and similar ISL programs may exist at the local level (e.g. Girls at the Center, Girls in Science, Girlstart, Techbridge), or have an outreach at the national level (e.g. aspire2inspire, Sally Ride Science). Several programs have a web presence and in many cases are web based (e.g. Engineer Girl, National Girls Collaborative Project). Some of fer information on how to start an after school STEM club (e.g. The GEMS Club, Great Science for Girls). Based on evaluations of programs around the country, the Afterschool Alliance posits that the best STEM focused ISL after school
60 programs increase stu the future pursuit of STEM careers (Afterschool Alliance, 2011). By identifying the research based practices from some of the best programs available, an after school STEM club for girls can b e started at a school, summer camp, or youth program that may bring STEM alive for girls, encourage a long term interest in STEM, enrollment in STEM subjects, and encourage STEM majors in college. Koenig and Hanson (2008) describe d an ISL program known as entering middle school The program offers participants real world applications of science and information on STEM careers The GIS clubs meet after school several times during the year. During the meetings, invited female scientists present career fields and conduct an experiment with the participants. One weekend each year the GIS club visits a local university for a showcase of women sciences. The GIS model has gained interest and other clubs are being implemented around the country (Koe nig & Hanson, 2008). Techbridge is another ISL program that introduces girls in grades 5 through 12 to STEM topics through a variety of after school and summer activities (Cohn, 2009). Launched in Oakland, California by Chabot Space & Science Center in 2 000, Techbridge encourages girls to explore fields where women have traditionally been underrepresented. As of 2009, Techbridge has worked with a total of 2,500 girls in 30 area schools. The project receives funding from the N SF corporate, and private foundations (Cohn, 2009). Challenges of ISL p rograms Without funding from outside sources, ISL programs may be difficult to initiate and maintain. ISL programs may also find themselves at the forefront of budget cuts. Volunteers are often used to work with the programs. This may require a significant
61 commitment of time and resources and some are unwilling to be involved. W hile ISL programs offer valuable opportunities to inspire interest in STEM, such programs alon e are insufficient for effective science learning and are mo st effective when combined and coordinated with formal education (NSF, 2010). Since much of the research on ISL programs is descriptive f uture research agendas should include independent extern al evaluations on the designs and outcomes of ISL programs (Anderson et al., 2003; NSF, 2010). Time should be devoted to designing specific interventions backed by strong evidence based and data driven studies. Qualitative data may better suited to analyzing the deeper layers of science learning taking place in informal science learning programs and a review of literature is needed (Schwartz & Noam, 2007). Evaluations should be designed to provide the education community knowledge that can be generalized to build better interventions, thus increasing the knowledge base of best practices (NSF, 2010). Other Theories that Inform the Einstein Girls Progr am Several theories of learning that share many commo n beliefs and assumptions form the structural framework of the Einstein Girls program. They are based on similar active, conscious, constructive practice that includes re ciprocal intention action the grounding assumption in which the Einstein Girls program was situated. This assumption provided the framework for additional theorie s that informed the organization the program, the goals of the program, the strategies for the program, and the methods of instruction for the program. The additional theories that informed the program will be further described in terms of the social and cultural nature of the group
62 (social constructivism), the group as a student centered learning environment (learning community), the group as an online learning community, and the group as a social community (situated learning). Constructivis m The term con structivism has become an accepted expression for a wide diversity construct knowledge based on t heir own experiences, perspectives, conceptions, and social interactions. As a learner experiences something new it is internalized through past experience or knowledge constructs that have been previously established (Robinson, Molenda, & Rezabek, 2008). For effective learning to occur, the theory of constructivism dictates that learning needs to take place within a meaningful and authentic situation in which experience and knowledge are shared and adapted collectively (von Glaserfeld, 1984). Construct ivism as a learning theory has a long history in education and philosophy (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). John Dewey (1916, 1938) was a proponent of the restructuring of education to meet the changing needs of the society and was an advocate for learning by d oing (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). In the book Democracy in Education 166). Dewey (1916) put forth Jerome Bruner (1966, 1971) focused on learning as a function of the activity of the learner and said the discovery process mu st be personally relevant to the learner
63 (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). He believed that knowledge was not based in the content of the learning but in the activity of the learner during the discovery process (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Vygotsky (1962, 1978) focused on both the social and cultural situated context of cognition and emphasized the social origins of cognition (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Several recent philosophers have offered epistemological grounding for modern constructivist leanings, includi ng Kuhn, Wittgenstein, and Rorty (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). According to Duffy and Cunningham (1996), these philosophers hold a similar p. 172). Since about 1990 there have been significant changes in learning theory in history, most notably a shifting from theories of behaviorism and cognitivism towards contemporary sociocultural, situated, and constructivist notions of learni ng (Jonasse n & Land, 2012). Jonassen and Land (2012) describe d three fundamental changes in thinking that are reflective of this shift. First they note d that learning involves the making of meaning rather than a transmission of knowledge. Learners interact with ot hers and with artifacts of their worlds and try to make sense of those interactions, thus making meaning out of the dissonance between what is known and what is desired to be known (Jonassen & Land, 2012). This dissonance guarantees at least some ownershi p of the knowledge by the learner (Jonassen & Land, 2012). Secondly, they note d that the more contemporary learning theories focus on the social nature of the meaning making, and that learning is a process of social negotiation among the participants of a n activity (Jonassen & Land, 2012). Finally the third change focuse d on the locus of meaning making. As learners
64 knowledge about the world are influenced by that community their culture, their values, and their beliefs (Jonassen & Land, 2012). Constructivist learning is then defined 178). ISL and c onstructivism Anderson et al. (2003) propose d that the constructivist view of learning can inform the research and interpretat ion of research data of ISL. Much of informal science learning research has been descriptive and lacks a theory base (Anderson et al., 2003). As mentioned before, constructivism states that learners construct knowledge based on their own experiences, per spectives, conceptions, and social interactions (Robinson et al., 2008). As a learner experiences something new it is internalized through past knowledge constructs that have been previously established (Robinson et al., 2008). For effective learning to occur, constructivism dictates that learning needs to take place within a meaningful and authentic situation in which experience and knowledge are shared and adapted collec tively (von Glaserfeld, 19 84; 1995 ). Martin (2001) sta te d that Learners attach meaning to new experiences based on the familiarity and knowledge they bring to their learning environments (Martin, 200 1). Scott (1987) defines a constructivist approach in science instruction where students are active learners who come to science experiences readily having ideas about natural phenomena which they use to make sense of everyday
65 experiences. In an ISL setting, learners build upon their prior knowledge and active involvement in the construction of new knowledge (Anderson et al., 2003). Social c onstructivism Vygotsky observed that learners developed mental abilities through social interactions with adults, thus learning the habits of mind of their culture (Robinson et al., 2008). He termed his theory a sociocultural approa ch to learning since he placed significance in the social and cultural influences on his theory (Robinson et al., 2008). This sociocultural approach is also known as social constructivism. In a social constructivist approach of knowledge construction, Du ffy and Cunningham (1996) note d 175) and` how learning takes place as individuals participate in the shared endeavors of others. According to this theory, learning i s a process of acculturation as an actively constructing learner is participating in culturally organized practices (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). During this participation, the learner is applying prior experience and knowledge to new experiences that usual ly involves some element of emotion and feeling (Falk & Dierking, 1997). This definition situates the process of learning in the physical, social, and personal contexts of the learner (Anderson et al., 2003). During social learning, learners work towards an understanding of their own knowledge through engagement and ownership in tasks that are meaningful to the learner. This was apparent in the Einstein Girls meetings, as girls were observed engaged in the activities and were able to take ownership of the activities by suggesting e between the
66 actual developmental level of a child as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under 1985) described the ZPD as a place where culture and cognition are co created. A zone of proximal development therefore describes a form of community cognition where the members of the community provide support for one another for learning (Duffy & Cunnin gham, 1996). learning environment. The ZPD is described in terms of the affordances or scaffolding of the learning environment and may include the support of the individual members, a the history of the members, or the cultural context of the environment (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). The ZPD and scaffolding together are viewed as a learning environment designed to support the growth of the learner (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Student centered learning e nvironmen t The Einstein Girls program functioned as a studen t centered learning environment which was designed to provide interactive activiti es that enable the participants to address their unique learning interests and needs (Land et al., 2012). As such, the environment facilitated student directed learning as the participants engaged in complex open ended problem contexts enriched with resou rces, technology tools, and scaffolding among the members (Land et al., 2012). The design framework for a SCLE was based on the previously described constructivist inspired views of learning (Jonassen, 1991), in which learners made meaning and constructed knowledge while engaged in authentic and real world activities.
67 Several key features of a SCLE were assumed in the design of the Einstein Girls after school program as well as the online mentoring community. These assumptions included the nature of th e learning with the learner at the center of defining meaning, the participation in real world tasks and sociocultural practices, and the significance of everyday experiences in making meaning (Hannafin & Land, 1997). In the Einstein Girls program, an ove rarching focus was to support the participants in the active construction of meaning. The program connected the students with female STEM mentors online, enabling them to ask questions, receive support, and learn about the building of the science identity In addition, activities and inquiries were designed that were meaningful to the students and allowed them to make choices and pursue individual interests, thus taking greater control of their own learning (Land et al., 2012). The program utilized probl em contexts, such as engineering design problems and environmental research projects, and computer tools to enhance the visualization of science concepts. These were designed to link everyday experiences and build upon what the participants already knew. By allowing participants to make connections to real world contexts, their learning was enriched and allowed the development of meaningful and long lasting interests as well as the formation of a dynamic learning community (Land et al., 2012). Learning c o mmunities A learning community is made of a group of learners who work together, build relationships that create a mutual commitment and belonging, and are involved in a collected effort of understanding (Gunawardena et al., 2009; Land et al., 2012). T he notion of such a community generates widespread significance in a variety of contexts, whether in organizational behavior, higher education, or pre college education
68 (Luppicini, 2003). Within this framework, learning communities are considered to be cu rricular structures that connect various disciplines around a central question or theme and encourage shared inquiry among students and faculty (Luppicini, 2003). In such a community, students are provided with opportunities to share ideas, elaborate on t heir own thoughts, and consider the ideas of others. Bielaczyc and Collins (1999, p. 271) categorize four features of learning communities: (a) areas of varied expertise are facilitated and encouraged; (b) goals are designed to increase the collected knowl edge of the community; (c) learning how to create new knowledge is emphasized; and (d) technologies for sharing what is learned are key to the success of the community. The community may exist in a F2F environment, an online environment, or a combination of both. Palloff and Pratt (1999; 2004) were early authors to describe creating a community in an online environment and encouraged the utilization of social networking tools to facilitate the communication within the community (Hill, 2012). The social constructivist approach to teaching and learning provides is the framework that provides the order of a learning community (Akyol & Garrison, 2011). Hill (2012) say essential to the success of a learning community as the interactions between learners enable the comm unity to form within a particular context (Hill, 2012). The Einstein Girls together functioned as a successful learning community which in the spring of 2013 became an online learning community.
69 Online learning c ommunities The notion of a learning commun ity has expanded into a global view, as new technologies are changing the concept of community. The Internet enables communities to go beyond ph ysical boundaries present in face to face (F2F) communities and provides members a platform for world wide shar ing, teaching, and learning (Howland, Jonassen, & Marra, 2012), thus creating online learning communities. Online learning communities may also be known as virtual learning communities, social networks, collaborative networks, or by other names. The 2010 Horizon Report (Johnson Smith, Levine, and Haywood 2010) discusses online communities or collaborative environments as self contained online spaces for collaboration, exchange of ideas, and knowledge sharing. Such spaces give students the opport unity to build knowledge in their own way, work creatively, and learn from others who possess a wide range of expertise and experiences. Web 2.0 tools and social software that support the construction of communities offer unlimited potential by providing the bonds to connect students in their group with one another, selected outside experts, and online information sources (Howland et al., 2012; Richardson, 2006). Online learning communities happen when the participants share interests they have in common. Howland et al. (2012) recommend that emphasis be placed on the social and cognitive contributions of a group of learners with one another by collaboration and support of each other towards learning goals. Online tools allow for the effective building of community through online conversations and dialogue (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). Online learning communities may provide learners with the opportunities to collaborate with others in a complex, dynamic network
70 of collaborating contributors, functioning together to become more capable of learning (Howland et al., 2012). The Einstein Girls functioned as an informal social and cultural online learning community when they connected with one another and with the female STEM mentors through the I nternet. Together the participants pursued the common themes of career exploration, science interest and science identity. An online community scaffolds learning and may provide a supportive social context where learning can occur. By being a part of of isolation are reduced and feelings of connectedness are magnified. Beginning learners and expert learners work together in a community providing an increasing sense of mutual effort on behalf of the community by sha ring ideas, developing knowledge, and appreciating multiple perspectives. This gives the context that scaffolds the learning of the participants. In addition, cooperative learning strategies that are utilized during learning community interaction have al so been found to increase the academic skills, social skills, and self esteem among school children (Riel, 1990). Small group investigations or team projects improve instruction and learning which fosters pro social patterns of peer interactions and relat ionships among the members (Riel, 1990). Social constructivist theory can be used to examine the value of various technology applications for online learning community building (Gunawardena et al., 2009). According to social constructivist theory, an i world arises from their own shared construction of the world. An online learning interactions within the community as the online envir onment scaffolds learning and
71 provides a supportive social context where learning can occur (Turvey, 2006). Beginning learners and expert learners work together in a community providing an increasing sense of obligation and mutual effort on behalf of the community. This gives (1938) theory that the learning by an individual is the consequence of the interaction of their personal interests, their experiences, and thei r social worlds. It is also in people and within individual minds is fundamental for personal cognition development (Jung & Latchem; 2011). While there is evidence that a sense of community can be created online (Garrison, 2007), the community group members may lack the social interactions afforded by F2F communities. This may require more time to develop social relationships as members may be unfamiliar with others and isolated from others (Koh & Hill, 2009). The lack of social interaction may impact group formation, group dynamics, and individual and group learning (Koh & Hill, 2009). Other challenges such as communication problems, distrust, disagreement, and unwill ingness to participate may prove detrimental to an online learning community (Chen, Chen, & Kinsh u k, 2009). The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) provided capacity building topical webcasts that assisted girl serving organizations (NGCP, 2008). One of their program was a project based, design based learning approach in which games were placed in an imaginary science based online community for preteens. The project utilize d the online community to deal with environmental and social issues, allowing the
72 girls to work together in an online learning community (NGCP, 2008). Other online learning platforms such as Edmodo, Edublogs, ePals, and ThinkQuest are available for teache rs and students to collaboratively create learning projects together (Howland et al., 2012). During the spring of 2013, the Einstein Girls and the female STEM mentors formed an online learning community. The community utilized the social networking progra m Edmodo that connected the student participants with the female STEM mentors. By utilizing the network, participants asked questions of the mentors, got information from the mentors, and were encouraged by the mentors, building up the community nature of the group. The Einstein Girls participants functioned as the beginning learners and the female STEM mentors served as the expert learners. During the online interactions, all of the community members interacted and increased the strength of the communit y. Situated l earning The theory of situated learning maintains that learning as it normally occurs is a function of activity, context, and culture in which it occurs (i.e., it is situated). These activities are seen as authentic, and have embedded within them the working practices and culture of the real world. This contrasts with many learning activities within the classroom which involve knowledge that is out of context and abstract. In traditional ered on the development of strategies metacognitive activities that involve the authenti essential to situated learning.
73 Learning needs to be understood as a social process and in order to make sense of learning the sociocultural context needs to be examined (Rogoff, Turkanis, & Bartlett, 2002). Social intera ction is a central component of situated learning as learners become involved in a community which embraces certain behaviors and beliefs to be acquired (Ganley, 2011; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Wenger, McDermot, & Snyder, 2002). Falk & Dierking ( 1997) suggests that learning is strongly influenced by setting, social interaction, and individual beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes. Data indicate that a community brings for the participants a greater sense of belonging, connectedness, and meaningful re lationships, and may ensure better academic preparation (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Wenger et al., 2002). The Einstein Girls and Mentoring is usually a more experienced person (expert, old timer) who gives advice and help to a less experienced person (newcomer, peripheral by a richness of interdependence between two 2010). The idea of mentoring itsel f dates back to the ancient work The Odyssey by the Greek poet Homer. In the poem, Odysseus' son Telemachus is given direction by a wise sea captain named Mentor about how to cope with the difficulties associated with the long absence of his father since the Trojan War. The term mentor is used to describe individuals in a wide variety of relationships in educational and business communities.
74 Traditionally, mentoring is often associated with workplace relationships, with a more exp erienced mentor helping raise up a younger protg. For the purposes of this literature review, mentoring in education will be the focus. 9 8) separate d traditional mentoring relationships into two broad categories which are t ermed natural mentoring and formal mentoring Natural mentoring relationships represent those where the mentors and mentees come together by either personal affiliation or chance opportunities, and are often present in the workplace (O relationships are oftentimes the result of the initiative of a school, a business, or a non sprinkled throughout the literature on busine ss, teacher training, adult development, nursing, and various other fields. The research is often somewhat lacking in agreement Theoretical G rounding for M entoring The theoretical grounding for mentoring, while not well defined, is often included under the broader category of learning theories, specifically cognitive apprenticeship and constructivist/socio cultural theories (Ehrich, Hansford, Tennent, 2001). Cognitive apprenticeship provides a theoretical framew ork for the process of helping novices become experts through one on one guidance and is grounded in mentoring, coaching, and modeling. Cognitive apprenticeships are situated within the social constructivist model and suggest students work together on pro jects modeled in real world situations (Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991). The perspective of constructivism maintains that learning is a process of active construction. The construction of ideas takes place during social interactions with other people (Wei nburgh, 2007). Vygotsky (1962) submitted that the construction of new meaning is most often facilitated by a more
75 knowledgeable person, such as a teacher, an older student, or a mentor. The use of mentoring in K 12 education incorporates social construct ivist methods as students construct their knowledge and scaffold personal meanings through social interactions with their mentors (Penny & Bolton, 2010). The use of mentoring in the K 12 classroom fits well into the framework of constructivist methods of classroom teaching as well as in informal learning environments (Penny & Bolton, 2010). Mentoring relationships provide social interactions, the ZPD, and scaffolding of the learning environment between the member and the more experienced expert. Cognitive a pprenticeship theoretical framework for the process of helping novices become experts through one on e work of Resnick (1987) and Brown, Collins, and Duiguid (1989), and move d apprenticeships from the area of physical job skills to the realm of the development of cognitive skills (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Lave and Wenger (1991) examine d the entire soc iocultural context in which the learner is a part. They also discuss ed an apprenticeship as being a part of the legitimate peripheral participation theory with an apprentice assuming the responsibilities over time in the community. The learner becomes a part of the community of practice and begins to assume responsibilities in the community (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). All the parts of the community, the culture, the experts, and the artifacts, afford the scaffolding for the learner as s/he assumes the re sponsibilities (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). Another way to view a cognitive apprenticeship is through a mentoring relationship that involves a relationship between a mentor and a mentee. The next section discusses the mentoring, the theoretical
76 framework of mentoring, and how mentoring was accomplished in the Einstein Girls online mentoring community. Mentoring f unctions two functions the relationships provide to the protg b y the mentor. The two classes functions have been described by Schockett, Yoshimura, Beyard Tyler, and Haring Neill, 1998). While most of the mentoring research relates to higher education and adult settings, these functions may also inform mentoring in K 12 settings. A mentor offers a mentee the career functions of sponsorship, expo sure, visibility, coaching, and protection In a similar fashion, the mentor offers a mentee the psychosocial functions of role of these functions wer e observed in the OMC of the Einstein Girls and female STEM mentors and informed parts of the a priori codebook (see Appendix A) used to eval uate RQ 1 T he Einstein Girls were given the opportunity for exposure t o a variety of STEM careers. They were able to communicate with real STEM professionals and explore various careers and career paths. They could ask specific questions about their careers and questions about their educational pathways They received inf ormation on pursuing advanced degrees in STEM from a medical d octor, a veterinary surgeon, a woman with an Ed.D., an engineer, and two The girls also talked about thei r interests in STEM and their science identities with the mentors They were able to ask the women about the timing, the source, and the nature of their interest in science.
77 They were able to ask questions about science identity The girls were able to find out what drew the women to science, how their surroundings shaped them, and ways they could encourage their own science identit ies Mentoring m odels There are several models for mentoring that can be used in formal and informal educational settings, such as traditiona l one to one mentoring, group mentoring, team mentoring, peer mentoring, and online mentoring (NMP, 2005). In the book Creating an E Mentoring Community Burgstahler (2006) state d that, when working with young lore career options, set academic and She also stated that mentoring may help their protgs rovide a significant they begin to seriously consider future career options (Long & Close, 2012). Mentoring is seen as a strategy that can help young people of all cir cumstances realize their potential (NMP, 2005). Sjaastad (2012) investigated the extent STEM students said they were inspired or motivated in their educational choices by individuals. His research looked for a suitable theoretical framework to study the on STEM considered the sources of early interest in science in their research. They asked Ph.D. scientists who they attributed with initiating their ear ly interest. Several of the scientists that initial spark of interest in science.
78 Mentoring and g irls in s cience Mentoring and role models have shown to have a posit ive impact on female students and help improve their attitudes towards science (Weber, 2011). Mentors can convey to girls positive images of women in STEM and girls who find mentors from within the scientific community are more likely to pursue their inte rests in science (NRC, 2006; Weber, 2011). The AAUW recommends exposing girls to successful female role models and mentors as a prescriptive measure for future success in STEM (Hill et al., 2010). A mentoring relationship between a girl and a science men tor may offer the spark of encouragement needed to encourage towards STEM areas. M entoring programs can help female students develop an interest in STEM and help them persist in their studies of STEM (Blake Beard et al., 2011; Burgstahler, 2006; Farland Smith, 2009; Halpern et al., 2007; Wasburn & Miller, 2004). Female STEM mentors can be paired or grouped with girls to offer advice, guidance, and answer questions about their careers. These mentors ca n teach girls that struggles and successes in STEM are normal and that becoming good in science and mathematics takes hard work (Halpern et al., 2007). A mentor may provide a protg an example as a role model, offer motivation, give career advice, and pr ovide moral support. Science mentors for girls may be scientists (Farland Smith, 2009; Halpern et al., 2007; Heilbronner, 2009; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; Vanmali & Abell, 2009), graduate students (Buck, Clark, & Beeman Cadwaliader, 2008; Cohn, 2009; Penny & Bolton, 2010), professors and teachers (Reis & Graham, 2005; Weber, 2011), or older peers (Cohn, 2009; Karcher, 2008; Reis & Graham, 2005). Mentors may be utilize d in both F2F and online scenarios. The students receiving mentoring may be in elementary sc hool
79 (Karcher, 2008; Penny & Bolton, 2010; Ryan, Whitaker, & Pinckney, 2002), middle school, or high school. Girls can benefit from extra motivation and encouragement as well as career advice and inspiration they may receive from STEM mentors. These relat ionships may be advantageous for girls as they move through their pre college schooling as they consider interest areas and career paths. In a discussion on the specific need for girls to have mentors, Eschevarria (1998) said that girls reach a point in t heir development essential and far too frequently ignored requirement for healthy d evelopment in girls Challenges associated with m entoring There are several unique challenges that are inherent with mentoring. Setting up mentoring relationships for girls may be difficult as it may be problematic to recruit mento rs who are willing to commit the time and resources needed to build mentoring relationships. Mentors often report lack of time and lack of training as obstacles to mentoring (Ehrich et al., 2001). Strategies for recruiting mentors may include using schoo l, university, and community resources, obtaining assistance from older girls pursuing STEM, and visiting local chapters of professional societies and companies. In addition, school hours alone may not provide adequate opportunities for girls to be expose d to role models, as mentoring may be better suited to out of school time (Halpern et al., 2007). Another challenge relates to the research available on mentoring. A few promising studies have been found that demonstrate the effect of mentoring programs in increasing the number of minority students pursuing advanced
80 degrees in STEM (Maton & Hrabowski, 2004; Summers & Hrabowski, 2006). While some descriptions and evaluations are available in the literature of mentoring programs involving adolescents, ther e is little research available on elementary school mentoring programs (Ryan et al., 2002) or on the effectiveness of mentoring programs with girls. Online M entoring The increased interest in mentoring in educational environments has encouraged an interes t in online mentoring (Penny & Bolton, 2010). Online mentoring is defined as which provides learning, advising, encouraging, promoting, and modeling, that is often bound ary less, egalitarian, and qualitatively different than traditional face to face known as virtual mentoring, telementoring, electronic mentoring, or e mentoring (Harris, 2011 way to connect the Einstein Girls with female STEM mentors through the Internet and social networking. Prior to the spread of the Internet, mentors would have to come to a sc hool or outside meeting place to interact with their mentees in F2F settings (Penny & Bolton, 2010). In addition, the time and cost commitments were often prohibitive, often making F2F mentoring difficult to accomplish (Langley, 2008). By utilizing the I nternet, there is a reduction in time commitment for the mentor volunteers to maintain a significant involvement in the lives of the mentees. In addition, online mentoring allows 19 9 8). The models previously mentioned for mentoring in formal and informal educational settings may also be used in an online setting, such as traditional one to one mentoring, group mentoring, team mentoring, and peer mentoring (NMP, 2005).
81 Online ment oring may be accomplished using synchronous and asynchronous communication through email, websites, discussion boards, collaborative environments, social networks, or other emerging technologies (Johnson et al., 2010; Langley, 2008; Computers and web enabled devices allow for a wide variety of experiences and activities that can support learning outside of the classroom through mentoring. Through the use of mentoring framed in the cognitive apprenticeship model, participants are fur ther assimilated into the culture by interactions with the other participants and with the experts. Much of the research on online mentoring communities is focused on learning in higher education settings (Blake Beard et al., 2011; Dorner, 2012; Hung & T an, 2004; Muldoon & Wijeyewardene, 2012; Simonsen et al., 2009) or the fields of business and engineering (Blake Beard et al., 2011; Langley, 2008). While there is not a large body of research available on online mentoring in K 12 settings such programs have great potential for impact p. 15). According to Harris (20 successful Internet based mentoring projects used in K 12 settings. For example, the Electronic Emissary Project (EEP) matched subject matter experts ( SME ) from different disciplines with K 12 students and teachers ( Harris, 2011; Rotenberg, 1996; Sanchez & Harris, 1996). The EEP is an Internet based online mentoring service and resource that helps locate and match mentors and mentees in order to assist in curriculum based information exchanges between students, teachers, and SMEs. Researchers and teachers have been designing online mentoring programs
82 for close to two decades, yet the potential for such spaces has yet to be tapped (Harris, There have been some successful online mentoring groups that utilized group chat sessions for communication or throug h an established network. As a part of the Women@NASA website, the network aspire2inspire targeted middle school girls considering education and careers in STEM (Sohn, 2011). The website features four Twitter feeds for girls to communicate with the w omen highlighted in the videos. Penny and Bolton (2010) describe another online mentoring program that involves synchronous and asynchronous electronic communication through social media, e mail, discussion boards, blogs, and wikis. These types of system s support and facilitate online mentoring relationships allowing students to be mentored by role models or subject Edmodo For this project, the Einstein Girls and female STEM mentors were co nnected online through a program known as Edmodo (see Figure 3 1) Edmodo is a free social networking program that provides a communication platform for educational use. It is a private platform, meaning the content is not available to the general publi c. This makes Edmodo a safe and secure instrument that can be used in schools to connect a community of individuals for sharing ideas and collaboration (Anderson, 2010). My school has used Edmodo with students in grades 7 and 8 for student to teacher com munication and student to student collaboration in both English and social studies courses. We have an official school site which allows all of the networks to be managed by the technology department. Teachers can create and manage their own accounts simp ly by registering and creating an account within the Edmodo website. The program
83 features a simple, user friendly, and intuitive interface that offers a safe and managed environment. Figure 3 1 Welcome to Edmodo screenshot. The Einstein Girls online mentoring community The Einstein Girls program offered the participants opportunities for online mentoring with the female STEM mentors through Edmodo during the mo nths of April and May of 2013. I decided to use the team men toring model within an online setting. people, with an adult to The team mentoring allowed students to inter face with STEM professionals as well as one another. By using the online mentoring community, the girls were able to talk with the female STEM professionals about their careers in STEM and the pathways that led
84 them to their careers. In addition, they we re able to ask the women about the timing, the source, and the nature of their interest in science. They were also able to ask questions of the women regarding the science identity. They were able to find out what drew the women to science, how their sur roundings shaped them, and how girls could encourage a science identity in themselves. Through the online mentoring project, the girls were able to worked forge a sense of connectedness, culture, identity, and belonging with one another and the female STE M mentors.
85 CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE ONLINE MENTORING COMMUNITY Introduction The purpose of this capstone project was to create an online mentoring community among fifth and sixth grade girls and female STEM mentors, to examin e in depth the nature of the online mentoring process that took place within the community, the community. The project sought to answer two research questions. The first question centered on understanding the nature of the online mentoring process, with science identities. The second question sought to gain insight into the perception of the participants regarding both the opportunities afforded by the community and the constraints associated with the community. A qualitative research design was used to frame the first research question utilizing the collection of descriptive data to gain ins ight into the complex nature of the OMC (Gay et al., 2009) as well as a thematic analysis of the online discussions. Descriptive data contained within the online community site were examined to determine the frequencies of participation for each of the me mbers. The types of interactions that took place between the students and the mentors were also analyzed and classified. In addition, the transcripts of the discussions that took place in the community were evaluated to determine the participation approa ches by the members. A thematic analysis of the online discussions was also completed. The design process for this analysis was documented from the perspectives of the mentors and the is framework of
86 qualitative data analysis along with an a priori codebook which was developed before the program began. constraints surrounding the onlin e mentoring process. To analyze the second research question, a qualitative research methodology was also used. I interviewed seven Einstein Girls for the project to explore their perceptions of the online mentoring process using a semi structured i nterv iew format (see Appendix C ). I also conducted a focus group with the mentors to find out their perceptions (see Appen dix D ). I completed a member check with 12 of the 13 participants. Table 4 1 summarizes the two research questions, the data collection methods, and the data analysis process for this project. Table 4 1. Research design for capstone project Research question Data collection Data analysis RQ 1: What is the nature of the online mentoring process -with special explo ration, interest in STEM, and their science identities? Online transcripts of student and mentor discussions Researcher journal Frequencies of participation for each member Participation approach for each member Types of interactions identified and classif ied Thematic analysis of discussion topics using a priori codebook Researcher journal for additional insights into nature of online mentoring process RQ 2: What are the of the opportunities and constraints surrounding online ment oring? Interviews of seven Einstein Girls Focus group with six mentors Researcher journal Coding of categories perceptions through CCM Researcher journal for additional insights into perceptions
87 Design of Online Me ntoring Community New forms of community are emerging as our traditional assumptions about learning are being transformed by opened ended processes of communication though pow facilitate the within the community (Turvey, 2006) as the online environment scaffolds learning and provides a supportive social context where learning can occur. Beginning learners and expert learn ers work together in a community providing an increasing sense of obligation and mutual effort on behalf of the community. An online community offers the beginning learners a safe environment in which to ask expert learners questions about their areas of interest. The Mentoring Component Mentoring refers to a relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person (the mentor) provides advice and help to a less experienced or knowledgeable person (the mentee). Mentoring is a strategy that can hel p young people of all circumstances realize their potential ( NMP 2005). Over the past few decades, mentoring has become popular in education (Penny & Bolton, 2010). There are several models for mentoring that can be used in educational settings, such as traditional one to one mentoring, group mentoring, team mentoring, peer mentoring, and online m entoring (NMP, 2005).
88 educational experience by providing a pos itive influence as they begin to seriously consider future career options (Long & Close, 2012). The AAUW recommended introducing girls to successful female role models and mentors in STEM as a strategy to encourage girls in science and mathematics (Hill et al., 2010). M entoring programs can help female students develop an interest in STEM and help them persist in their studies of STEM (Blake Beard et al., 2011; Burgstahler, 2006; Farland Smith, 20 09; Halpern et al., 2007; Wasburn & Miller, 2004). Female STEM mentors can be paired or grouped with girls to offer advice, guidance, and answer questions about their careers. These mentors can teach girls that struggles and successes in STEM are normal and that becoming good in science and mathematics takes hard work (Halpern et al., 2007). Mentors can also convey to girls positive images of women and be role models in STEM (Farland Smith, 2009). It has been shown that girls who work with mentors from within the scientific community are more likely to pursue their interests in science (Farland Smith, 2009; NRC, 2006; Weber, 2011). Online Mentoring The design of the OMC used in this project connected adults with students through the Internet using the se cure social network Edmodo. Harris (2011) described OMCs in K 12 settings as those which typically support the exploration of career interests and personal issues. She recommended that K 12 students be afforded the opportunities to communicate with content specialists who share similar interests, experiences, and expertise. The 2010 Horizon Report (Johnso n et al. 2010) discussed OMCs as self contained online spaces for collaboration, exchange of ideas, and knowledge shar ing. Such spaces allow students the opportunity to build knowledge in
89 their own ways, work creatively, and learn from others who possess a wide range of expertise and experiences. The Einstein Girls, when connected online with the female STEM mentors func tioned as an OMC with the goals of interesting the girls in science and STEM, informing them about STEM careers, and encouraging their senses of science identity. The Einstein Girls OMC utilized the team mentoring model within the community, which involve to allowed students to interface with STEM professionals as well as one another through the Internet. Since we used the team mentoring model, there was no one to one matching of girls with specific mentors. Instead, the girls were able to ask questions of any one or more of the participating mentors. This contributed to the community nature of the Eins tein Girls online mentoring program. Edmodo as the Online Platform Before I began this project I spent about a year researching several educational social networking platforms available to use as my online mentoring delivery system. I began the search by looking at the following platforms: Blogger, Edmodo, Edublogs, ePals, Mentornet, Moodle, Ning, and Wordpress. At the time of writing, these platforms were open source community based tools used for various purposes in education and for personal use. I na rrowed the search down to Edmodo and Moodle which were both used at my school The sixth grade Einstein Girls had used Moodle in academic settings but none of the participants had used Edmodo prior to th e project. I reached out to several technology experts at my school for advice and chose to use Edmodo for
90 my OMC delivery platform I opened a teacher account through my school and created a group within my Edmodo account called the Eins tein Girls Group. Context The purpose of this project was to create an OMC that connected the Einstein Girls with female STEM mentors, allowing the girls to explore STEM careers, interest, and identity. The project was conducted during the spring 2013 sem ester of the Einstein Girls after school academy at my school using Edmodo as the online mentoring delivery system. The Einstein Girls were the student participants and six female STEM mentors were the adult participants. The components of the OMC ar e described below. Participants There were 27 participants who were a part of this project. There were 20 Einstein Girls, six female STEM mentors, and me as the director of the program In addition, the parents of the Einstein Girls were able to observe the OMC if desired. The following sections describe the participants and their roles in this project. Einstein Girl s There were 20 Einstein Girls who were a part of this project. The program had an enrollment of 19 fifth and sixth grade female students a nd one eighth grade former Einstein Girl student assistant who were all members of the school population. The Wednesday group consisted of 14 girls (eight fifth grade girls and four sixth grade girls) and the Thursday group consisted of six girls (one fif th grade girl, four sixth grade girls, and the eighth grade student assistant). The information from all 20 students was considered together during the data collection phase and the data analysis phase of the OMC project.
91 The Einstein Girls members were d efined as those students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) received the Parent Introduction Letter to Study (see Appendix E ) and signed the Paren tal Consent Form (see Appendix F ). The research protocol was approved through the University of Florida Instituti onal Review Board and all minor participants gave their assent to be included in this project (see Appendix G ). All of the students chose to be a part of the Einstein Girls program and also volunteered to participate in this research study; ther efore there was no selection process. To protect the anonymity of the girls, I created pseudonyms and used them throughout the project. The 20 Einstein Girls participants were a racially and culturally diverse group of girls. The demographics of the grou p at the time of the study were: 10% African American, 5% Asian, 40% Caucasian, 10% Hispanic, 25% Eastern Indian, and 10% Middle Eastern. The girls shared a similar high socioeconomic background which is typical for a private school. Einstein Girls p arents The parents of the Einstein Girls were invited to participate in the online mentoring community. Parents were emailed parent enrollment passwords to allow them access to the Edmodo site. Their access was limited, allowing them to read the posts and discussions between students and mentors. They were not active participants in the community and could not post any comments or delete any comments. The rationale for including parents was to allow them the ability to monitor the activities and discussions of the community if desired. Female STEM m entors A critical step in creating a successful OMC for the Einstein Girls was the selection of the female STEM mentors. Many women STEM profession als offered their
92 services to the project and I spent several months contemplating which mentors to use, how many to use, and which STEM areas to include. My first decision was to choose women who were parents of students in the school community. I chose women that I knew to insure the safety of my Einstein Girls and the comfort for their parents. Two of the mentors (Dr. B and Dr. K) were parents of former Einstein Girls and one mentor (Dr. G) was the parent of a rising Einstein Girl. In addition, I tau ght science to all of their children. Another mentor (Dr. P) was involved with me on several science and school parents who had daughters in the Einstein Girls program during the time of this study. I asked the six women if they would consider being mentors for the Einstein Girls OMC in February or March 2013. I asked Dr. G and Dr. K at school functions and gave th em a general idea of what to expect from the project. I then emailed Dr. P, Dr. B. and Ms. N in February with the same general information. The last mentor contacted was Dr. M; she was invited to join in March. All of the women graciously said yes and o ffered their services to the project and to the girls. The female STEM mentors were defined as those participants who signed the Particip ant Consent Form (see Appendix H ). The six mentors represented all areas of STEM. Representing areas of science were a clinical psychologist (Dr. K), a reproductive endocrinologist (Dr. P), and a veterinary surgeon (Dr. M). Representing the area of technology was a chemical engineer (Dr. G) who served as a research scientist in the electrical and computer engineering de partment at a nearby university. Representing areas of engineering were the chemical engineer as well as a
9 3 geotechnical engineer (Ms. N). Representing the area of mathematics was a high school mathematics teacher (Dr. B). Dr. B did not teach mathematics at our school, she taught at another school in town. The mentors were a racially and culturally diverse group of women. One of the mentors was African American, one was Eastern Indian, one was Hispanic, and three were Caucasian. One of the Caucasian men tors was born and raised in Canada. Five of the six mentors held terminal degrees. Two of the mentors attained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. G and Dr. K) and one of the mentors attained the degree of Doctor of Education (Dr. B). Dr. P attained the degree of Medical Doctor and along with being a practicing physician, was an Ass istant Professor at [university] College of Medicine Dr. M attained the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and was a board certified animal surgeo n. Ms. N received her undergraduate degree in geotechnical engineering and was a successful business owner. To protect the anonymity of the mentors, pseudonyms were assigned and used throughout the project. The mentor s title and the first letter of the last name. Director I served as the director and owner of the Einstein Girls Group contained within the Edmodo site. After setting up the teacher account through my school, I had the sole ownership of the group as well as the control of the group. I had to approve all comments submitted to the Edmodo site prior to posting and could lock, unlock, or shut down the site at any time.
94 Role s of the Participants The following sections describe the roles of the participants of the OMC. First the role of the Einstein Girls is discussed followed by an explanation of the role of the female STEM mentors Role of Einstein Girl s The Einstein Girls were first introduced to the Edmodo social network site during program meetings in Febr uary of 2013. On February 8, 2013, I emailed all parents of the Einstein Girl participants and told them about my plans to form on online mentoring community through Edmodo; I received permission from every parent to enroll their daughter in the OMC. We began working with Edmodo during the second week of the Einstein Girls after school academy in February 2013 with both the Wednesday group and the Thursday group. During our meetings I displayed the Welcome to Edmodo image on a large screen using my teach er computer and a projector. I demonstrated the procedure for enrolling a student in the Einstein Girls Group using a fictitious name. Each girl was then assigned to a computer in my science laboratory, given a teacher created username and password, and created their own student account. Once the 16 girls in the Wednesday academy were enrolled I took them on a virtual walk through of the Edmodo site. I showed the girls how to type and send a note (which was the same procedure used to begin a discussion t hread) with the fictitious down menu on T he message did not display immediately on the Edmodo screen but instead a message Your teacher must approve this message before it displays (see Figure 4 1 ). I explained to the girls that I set up
95 the program in such a way that every post from every participant (whether Einstein Gi rl or STEM mentor) had to be moderated or approved by me as the teacher and owner of the group. Once I approved the note from my teacher computer, the message displayed on the Edmodo Einstein Girls Group site. After each note a box appeared question or add a comment to another post. These replies and comments were also sent to me for approval before appearing on the Edmodo Einstein Girls Group site. I set up my account w ith the approval feature to ensure the appropriateness of the comments and preserve the integrity of the site. For the remainder of the class, the students practiced writing note s and replying to one another. Figure 4 1 Post sent for moderation screen shot. The enrollment process was r epeated with the Thursday Einstein Girls group the following day. The six girls were enrolled in the same group as the Wednesday girls, and the initial group consisted of 23 members, including 20 Einstein Girls, 2 fictit ious students (one from Wednesday and one from Thursday), and me. At this point I went to my Edmodo account and locked the group. The project was set aside for the girls until April 2013 and I turned to the mentors.
96 Role of m entor s The six mentors were c hosen by the process described earlier in this chap ter Once the mentors were selected all communications were accomplished by email On April 3, 2013, the first email was sent to the six mentors with more details about the program. On April 11, 2013, a second email was sent explaining how the Edmodo site would work and more abou t their role in the OMC. A third email was sent on April 21, 2013 requesting permission for me to enroll each mentor in the Edmodo community. I unlocked the Einstein Girls gro up so I could add the mentors to the group as students. Each mentor responded favorably and was enrolled as a student in the community. I sent each mentor a username and password that allowed them private access to the Edmodo site from a ny computer or mo bile device. The final group had 29 members, which included the 20 Einstein Girls, six female STEM mentors, two fictitious students, and the owner (see Figure 4 2 ) The group was locked again to keep it secure. Figure 4 2. Einstein Girls group locke d screenshot.
97 A training document was emailed to eac h of the mentors on April 23, 2013 (see Appendix I ). The training document was created from the synthesis and adaptation of several mentor training documents encountered during my search for mentoring i nformation (Cravens, 2000; M MP 2013). In the training document I requested that the mentors serve as supportive and caring adult supervisors for fifth and sixth grade girls who had demonstrated an interest in science or STE M. Their role was to answer any of careers, their educational experiences, their STEM interests, and their science identities. I asked the mentors to visit the Edmodo site whenever their schedules permitted, but requested that they visited the site a minimum of three times a week over In addition to answering any questions posted by the girls, I suggested that they also ask the girls questions, ask each other questions, and ask me questions. I told the mentors they could e mail or call me with questions at any time during the months of April and May. The Project The project began after I Institutional Review Board and collected all of the approval documents described earlier in this chapter. Before officially beginning the OMC project, I went back to the Edmodo site and deleted al l of the practice posts written by the girls. The project began on the evening of April 23, 2013 when I opened up the emptied Edmodo site and created an initial post for each of the si x mentors. Each mentor received the same initial post from me, in whic h I welcomed the mentors to the Einstein Girls OMC and asked the question, Edmodo transcript,
98 April 23, 2013)? I asked the mentors to try to answer the question before the Week 1 Einstei n Girls after school meetings set for April 24, 2013 and April 25, 2013. If they did not answer the question prior to the meetings, I requested they answered sometime during Week 1. Dr. K and Dr. M (see Figure 4 3 ) posted their responses before the Wedne sday group meeting and Dr. G posted her response before the first Thursday group meeting. Figure 4 3. Dr. M initial post screenshot. During the Week 1 meetings, the girls were reminded how to access the Edmodo site and logged into the group with their individual usernames and passwords. Each girl was given a list of suggested questions about career exploration designed to help them initiate discussion t hreads (see Appendix J ). Research literature on mentoring and girls
99 in science as well as the a prior i codebook (see Appendix A) informed the design of the questions. The questions were divided into career, STEM interest, and science identity. restricted to the li st of suggested questions but were free to ask their own questions as prompt the girls to ask many questions about their STEM careers. Before the girls left the Week 1 mee tings, they were told that they could access their Edmodo accounts from their homes with a computer or mobile device. I reminded them to obtain parental permission first and encouraged them to show the site their parents. After the class ended, I read the posts and approved all of them except for a few that were not relevant to the project Then I sent a separate email to each Einstein Girl parent and assigned them a parent code. This code gave each parent private read only access to the Edmodo site; parents were not active participants of the OMC. By the end of the Week 1, all six mentors had answered the initial question and answered some of the questions posted by the girls during the Einstein Girls meetings. The theme for Weeks 1 and 2 of the OMC was career exploration. During those two weeks the mentors were asked to visit the site at least three times per week at their own convenience and to answer any questions posted by the girls. The theme for Week 3 was STEM interest, and the theme for Week 4 was science identity. The mentors answered the various questions posted at the Edmodo site in an asynchronous manner at their convenience. During Weeks 2 4 the Einstein G irls had access to the Edmodo network during regular meeting times. In addition, I encouraged the girls to visit the site away from
100 school. During the last week of the OMC I reviewed the Edmodo site and identified a few unanswered questions. I then emai led each mentor with remaining questions and asked them to answer them in a final post. Individual question and answer threads are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 5. Research Design Much of the literature on online mentoring is dominated by reports on programs and less focused on the possibilities that exist for the design and study of programs described earlier in this chapter. However, the goal for the project was to study the outcomes of the OMC. By examining the nature of the online mentoring process and describe the online mentoring activities between the students and female STEM mentors. The results of this study were specific to the Einstein Girls program but generalizations may be made from this study to similar programs connecting students with adult mentors through OMCs. Information learned from this project may be cautiously generalized to inform future designs of comparable communities. Research Question 1 RQ 1: What is the nature of the online mentoring process -with special identitie s? Data c ollection The first research question was designed to explore the online mentoring process that took place between the Einstein Girls and the female STEM mentors. In particular, I was interested in examining the constructs of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity for the girls. I examined the discussions threads that took
101 place between the girls and the mentors on several levels and explored the themes that were present in those threads. A discussion thread consisted of a quest ion posed by a student, an answer from the mentor, and any subsequent discussions related to the original question. The following paragraphs describe the ways in which data was collected Once the project was completed and the questions were answered, I went back to the Einstein Girls Group at the Edmodo site and read through the conversations that took place between the students and the six mentors. Each post contained in the ned as a unit of data analysis (Garrison et al., 2001). I created one transcript for each mentor that reflected all of the exact conversations in which the mentor was involved. These transcripts were organized chronologically by date, with the oldest pos t listed first and the newest post listed last. I labeled these transcripts as (mentor pseudonym) Protocol A. There were six Protocol A transcripts, one for each mentor For a sample of a Protocol A transcript, please see Appendix K Since these transcr ipts were organized by date and the conversations were asynchronous, student question and mentor answer did not always correspond. In addition, because the girls asked most of the questions during Einstein Girls meetings and were not necessarily aware of the questions being asked by their peers, several questions were repetitious. Because of this, I created a second set of transcripts that were organized by question and not by date. I grouped similar questions together with the corresponding mentor answe r(s) and assigned each question a number. These transcripts were labeled as (mentor pseudonym) Protocol B. There were six Protocol B
102 transcripts, one for each mentor. For a sample of a Protocol B transcript, please see Appendix L Finally I formatted t he Protocol B transcripts on documents with open margins to allow for coding of data. This was accomplished by assigning line numbers to identify each line within the data and was used later for cross referencing the data. The pages were also numbered f or identification purposes. These transcripts were labeled as (mentor pseudonym) Protocol C. There were six Protocol C transcripts, one for each mentor. For a sample of a Protocol C transcript, please see Appendix M In addition to the various protocols I kept a researcher journal to record observations, thoughts, and wonderings. I used the Protocol A transcripts, the Protocol B transcripts, and the Protocol C transcripts as well as the researcher journal to complete the data analysis for RQ 1. Dat a a nalysis T h ere were three areas of interest in evaluating the nature of the online mentoring process. First, I was interested in the various approaches to the community used by the members. I used the numerical information contained in the Edmodo site to analyze the frequencies of participation for each of the members of the OMC. I was interested in how many times each participant posted to the site. The Edmodo site allowed for any member of the group to access information on any other member. When a indicated the number of posts and replies attributed to that member during the project. For example, fifth grade student Jordan posted 29 times and mentor Dr. M posted 27 time s. I was also able to determine which girls (if any) posted questions from outside of school by observing the Protocol A transcripts. I could see if the posting dates matched
103 the dates of Einstein Girls meetings. In addition, there were times when I had the Edmodo site opened up in the evening and saw that some girls had posted questions. I kept notes of this in the researcher journal. I coun ted the number of mentors each girl questioned using the Protocol B transcripts I viewed their questions and determined whether they used questions off the list of sug gested questions (see Appendix J ) or asked their own original questions. Finally I loo ked at each mentor and counted how many girls engaged them with questions. The second area of interest in evaluating the nature of the online mentoring process was an in depth analysis of the types of interactions that took place between the student and th e mentors in the OMC. The interactions between the students and the mentors were represented by question and answer threads or longer discussion threads contained within the Edmodo site. According to Zha ng, Chen, Xi, Zeng, and Ma (U.S. Patent No. 7,437,3 82 B2, 2008 ), a discussion thread allows participants to take part in a conversation about a specific topic through the Internet. A discussion thread usually begins when one participant creates an initial message or asks a question that relates to a topic Other participants read the initial message or question and post responses or replies, thus beginning a discussion thread. Other participants may join in the discussion making the thread longer and more diverse. Their definition described the student and mentor interactions contained within the Einstein Girls OMC. For me to better understand the nature of the online mentoring process, I decided it was important to look more closely at these i nteractions. Zhang et al. (2008 ) created a method or system for ranking the messages contained within discussion threads. Their system was designed for the business world and utilized a ranking
104 system defining the attributes of a message a nd an author (Zhang et al., 2008 ). This system was unsuitable for describin g and understanding the interactions that took place in our community. I then conducted searches of the mentoring and online community literature for discussion thread classification sys tems (Dorner, 2012; Harris, 2011 ; Hong & Davison, 2009; Lin, 2009; Ni sbet, 2004; Pena Shaff, 2004; Ravi & Kim, 2007; Schrire, 2006; Swan, 2002; Turvey, 2006 ). I was unable to find a classification system that could be used to organize and classify the interactions between the mentors and the girls although some of the cat egories described by Harris (2011) w ere useful I felt a classification system would allow me to identify what types of interactions took place and with whom they took place. This was a key component in understanding the nature of the online mentoring pr ocess being studied in this project. For this reason I devised my own classification system to identify, organize, and analyze the data. I observed four general types of interactions between the students and the mentors contained in the OMC discussion thr eads. I labeled the four types of interactions terminal discussion threads, group terminal discussion threads, associated terminal discussion threads, and extended discussion threads. Descriptions of the four types of threads and an example of each are p resented in Chapter 5. I went through the six Protocol B transcripts that were organized by question and labeled every question and answer thread by interaction type. I also totaled the numbers of each interaction type by mentor and counted the number of girls involved in the threads. Then I totaled the number of discussion threads for all mentors by type of interaction and determined which type of interaction was the most common and which type was the least common.
105 The third and final area of interest i n evaluating the nature of the online mentoring process was an in depth analysis of the discussions that occurred between the girls and the mentors. I analyzed the six Protocol C transcripts using the thematic analysis framework of qualitative data analys is. This framework was described by or analytical interest in the area, and is thus more explicitly analyst Clarke, 2006, p. 84). While this form of analysis provided a less thick description of the overall data, it did provide a mor & Clarke, 2006, p. 84). Using the theoretical approach of thematic analysis, I was interested in the way the constructs of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity appeared throughout the data. I focused on those particular features while analyzing, coding, and interpreting the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). I created an a priori codebook (see Appendix A) before I began the project that focused on career exploration, STEM interest, and s cience identity. The a priori codes were identified from a variety of sources, such as existing research and theories, or from hunches about the data or the setting (Gibbs & Taylor, 2010). To create such a codebook, it was imperative that I synthesized what was already known in the research literatu re about those constructs (see C hapter 2) as well as what was already known about learning communities, mentoring, and onli ne mentoring (see C hapter 3). The codes were developed from the K 12 sc ience education, mentoring, and educational media literature as well as from my own experiences and observations. According to
106 MacQueen, McLellan, Kay, & Milstein (1998), these codes formed the foundation on which the arguments rested and embodied the ass umptions that framed the analysis. The career exploration a priori codes related to themes such as, career definition, career specifics, educational pathways, career satisfaction, and career challenges. The STEM interest a priori codes related to the them es developed by Maltese and Tai (2010) of timing of interest, source of interest, and nature of interest. The science identity a priori codes related to the more personal issues of self, being a science person, being shaped by surroundings, and being attr acted to science. Some of the steps of thematic analysis are similar to those of other qualitative research (Braun & Clarke, 2006) and I utilized their phases of thematic analysis to inform the first research question. Data analysis began with a familiari zation of the data. I read through the six Protocol C transcripts several times and made general observations about the nature of the discussion threads Then I began the initial coding process of the transcr ipts of Dr. B and Dr. G using the a priori codebook as a guide. The process of coding was an essential part of the analysis process since coding organized the data into meaningful groups (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Miles & Huberman, 1994). I initially wrote t he code names in pencil in the right hand margins of the transcripts. Some discussion threads corresponded directly to a code and some corresponded to two or more codes. However, some discussion threads did not correspond to any of the codes. I made not e of this and wondered if I found some eme rging codes and needed to add to the a priori codebook. By the time I finished the initial coding of the two transcripts I noted two unexpected codes. Several girls asked Dr. B for advice relating to their mathema tics
107 codebook under the emerging codes section. Dr. G talked about the importance of col remaining transcripts and noted several more examples of mentor advice and mentor collaboration so I kept these new codes in the codebook. The process of coding the discuss ion threads continued, using Corbin and of the codes in my researcher journal and established an audit trail to allow for the al., 2009, p. 377). The original a priori codebook contained eight codes that related to career exploration. Some of the original codes did not appear in any of the transcripts so those codes were removed from the codebook. For example, none of the girls asked about the middle school or high school experiences of the mentors, but asked several questions about college and graduate school. However, some of the mentors discussed their pre college experiences in through of all the transcripts and checked the codes again and created a final a priori codebook. This codebook also contained eight codes relating to career exploration, but not all of the codes were the same as in the original book. Six new versions of the Protocol C transcripts were created Using the markup featu re on my computer, I transferred the penciled in codes to the computer documents
108 and called these new versions Protocol D transcripts. There were six Protocol D coded transcripts, one for each mentor. For a sample of a Protocol D transcript, please see Ap pendix N The final codes were collated from the Protocol D transcripts and transferred to documents which included all data relevant to a potential theme. For a sample of a theme sheet, please see Appendix O. The themes were broader units of analysis t han the individual codes (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Themes were then reviewed, which meant they were checked to verify whether they related to the final a priori codes as well as the entire data set. The themes were refined, named, and defined, until they r evealed the overall story told by the analysis of the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The themes were placed in a thematic map (see Appendix P ) which informed the writing of Chapters 5 and 6. Research Question 2 RQ 2 : What are the participant ions of the opportunities and constraints surrounding online mentoring ? Data c ollection To analyze the second research question, I also utilized a qualitative research methodology. I returned to the relevant posts of the online transcripts and purposefully selected individual girls to interview. I looked for two types of girls; those who seemed interested in the online mentoring process and those who did not seem interested in the online mentoring process. In this way I was able to determine t heir perceptions of both the opportunities and the constraints surrounding the process. The interviews took place at school and were video recorded and transcribed. The interviews followed a semi structured format which allowed me to explore issues by as king probing questions and following hunches (Maltese & Tai, 2010). Questions were prepared in advance
109 using an interview guide, which was a list of questions that were explored through the indiv idual interviews (see Appendix C ). The interview guide was prepared to verify that essentially the same material was covered with each participant. I transcribed t he interviews from the video recording s and the text s w ere formatted on documents with open margins to allow for coding of data. T his was accomplished by assigning line numbers to identify each line within the data and was used later for cross referencing the data. Six out of seven of the girls completed a member check of the interview transcripts ; t he seventh girl moved out of the area after the study. I conducted a focus group with the mentors to gain insight into their perceptions of the opportunities and constraints su rrounding the OMC. Three of the mentors were physically present for the focus group The other three mentors sent in their answers by email prior to the focus group. A colleague also attended the focus group meeting and kept notes. The int erviews followed a semi s tructured format (see Appendix D ) and were conducted on the school campus during an early dismissal day. I recorded and transcribed the audio interview, then combined the transcript with the answers from the non present members an d the notes from the colleague. This became the final focus group transcript. All six of the mentors and the colleague completed a member check of the focus group transcript. I kept notes in the researcher journal for additional insights into the research questions. Data a nalysis The qualitative analysis of the eight interviews (seven student interviews and one focus group interview) was completed using the CCM (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) The interv iews were read through using open coding on the transcripts. Inductive coding was used that was developed during the
110 direct examination of the data collected from the interviews. Each incident in the data 2008, p. 73). Similar incidents were grouped together and categorized as a specific concept or category. Codes were modified, added, merged, or deleted until the codes were saturated, revealing all of the concepts or categories surrounding the second question. In addition, an audit trail was established of the evolution of the coding system. The inductive categories were refined and renamed when necessary, using ongoing CCM to perfect the specifics of each category as well as to look at the overall story that was being told by the analysis of the data. This step also generated the names for each category as well as a clear definition for each category. The categories were assembled in to a concept map (see Appendix Q ) which informed th e writing of Chapters 5 and 6. Summary An online mentoring community was created connectin g fifth and sixth grade girls who were interested in science with female STEM mentors The data collection took place during the month s of April and May, 2013 and sought to answer two research questions described in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 presents the results of the two research questions and is followed by a discussion of the results in Chapter 6 and a presentation of the implications of the research in Chapter 7
111 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS Introduction The purpose of this project was to create an online mentoring community among fifth and sixth grade girls and female STEM mentors, to examine the mentoring process that took place w the opportunities and constraints of the community. This chapter presents the results of the project by research question, with the results of RQ 1 presented first, followed by the res ults of RQ 2. Research Question 1 RQ 1: What is the nature of the online mentoring process -with special identities? To answer this first question I looked at two aspects of the onli ne mentoring process: the participation in the OMC by the community members and a thematic analysis of the online discussions. The results of RQ 1 are presented in two parts, with the analysis of the participation by community members presented first foll owed by the thematic analysis of the online discussions. Analysis of Participation by Community Members To analyze the participation by community members, numerical data contained within the Edmodo site were examined to determine the frequencies of partici pation for community members. Then the transcripts of the student and mentor conversations were evaluated to determine the participation approaches by the various community members. Next the types of interactions that took place between the mentors and the students were analyzed and classified In addition to identifying the interactions that
112 took place in the Edmodo site, I also examin ed the participation approaches of the various community members. Each community member was free to approach the community in their own way; there were no requirements or expectations for either the students or the mentors. The following sections describ e the mentors and the students, their frequencies of participation, and the ir approaches to the community The Students The students who participated in this project were the nineteen fifth and sixth grade girls enrolled in the Einstein Girls after school academy and one eighth grade former Einstein Girl student assistant. The demographics of the 20 participants were described in Chapter 4. To protect their identities, the girls who participated in the project were identified only by pseudonyms. Student F requencies of Participation Each student was involved in the Einstein Girls OMC in her own unique way, as evidenced by the varying numbers of posts (see Table 5 1). The OMC project lasted for approximately four weeks. Over the course of the four weeks, a ll 20 of the girls visited the site on multiple occasions during Einstein Girls meetings held after school. One girl chose not to post any questions but still was observed during three Einstein Girls meetings reading the questions and answers contained in the Edmodo site. Five girls (Denise, Gail, Jordan, Kim, and Xitali) also chose to login from outside of school. As the Edmodo group administrator I was able to see how many times each student posted to the site. The students posted a varying number of questions with different combinations of mentor(s). Overall, the girls posted to the Edmodo site 141 times. Table 5 1 summarizes the student activity levels according to pseudonym, grade, number of posts, and an indication of activity outside of school.
113 Table 5 1. Einstein Girls parti ci pants by pseudonym grade, number of posts, and login from home Student Student grade Number of posts Login from home? Annie Fifth 12 No Beth Fifth 1 No Connie Eighth 1 No Denise Sixth 15 Yes Emily Sixth 5 No Ga il Fifth 10 Yes Georgia Fifth 0 No Greta Sixth 6 No Heather Sixth 2 No Jordan Fifth 29 Yes Kay Sixth 6 No Kim Sixth 6 Yes Mary Fifth 8 No Mary Ann Fifth 2 No Pam Sixth 2 No Reddie Fifth 11 No Rickie Sixth 12 No Shammie Sixth 5 No Tabbie Fifth 2 No Xitali Sixth 6 Yes Eighth grade student assistant Different girls posted different numbers of times on the site. Jordan posted 29 times which was the highest number of posts for any of the girls. She posted from school and out of school. Denis e posted 15 times and also accessed Edmodo from school and out of school. Annie, Gail, Reddie, and Rickie each posted 10 or more times. Of these four girls, Gail was the only one who accessed Edmodo out of school. The remainder of the girls posted less than 10 times each, with Georgia electing not to post any questions at all. Student Approach to the Community The students asked a variety of questions relating to the STEM areas represented by the mentors. However, not all students approached the communi ty in the same fashion. I reviewed the Edmodo site and found that three girls (Denise,
114 Jordan, and Mary) posted one or more questions for all six mentors, three girls (Annie, Reddie, and Shammie) posted one or more questions for five of the mentors, and f ive girls (Emily, Gail, Greta, Kim, and Rickie) posted one or more questions for four of the mentors. Xitali posted one or more questions for three of the mentors, Heather and Mary Ann posted one or more questions for two of the mentors, and Beth, Connie, Kay, Pam, and Tabbie posted one or more questions for only one of the mentors. Georgia did not post any questions during the four week project. Denise, Jordan, and Mary posted one or more questions for all six mentors. All of their questions were orig inal and did not come off of the list of recommended questions I provid ed for the girls (see Appendix J ). Conversely, even though Reddie and Shammie posted questions for five different mentors, when I reviewed the Edmodo transcripts I noticed that Reddie (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) asked four of the five mentors the same question, Th e question came directly off of the list of questions suppl ied to the girls Shammie (Edmo do transcript, May 15, 2013) also asked the five mentors the same question, which was, ? The remaining girls posted varying amounts of questions to the mentors of their choices The Mentors The mentors were six female STEM professionals described in Chapter 4 who represented various fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They were all parents from the school community and were known by me and purposefully selected by me. Two of the mentors were parents of former Einstein Girls and one was the parent of a rising Einstein Girl. None of the mentors were parents of current Einstein Girls. The mentors volunteered their time to participate in the project and
115 e xpressed enthusiasm for the project. To protect their identities, the mentors who participated in the project were identified by pseudonyms of their titles and the first letter of their last names. Mentor Frequencies of Participation Each mentor was invol ved in the Einstein Girls OMC in her own unique way, as evidenced by the varying number of posts (see Table 5 2). Different mentors posted different numbers of times on the site. Two of the mentors were involved in multiple question and answer sessions a nd posted over 20 times each while another mentor posted only five times during the four week project. In all, the six mentors posted to the Edmodo site 104 times. Table 5 2 lists the m entors by name, STEM career, number of posts and number of girls who posted question for mentor Table 5 2. Female STEM mentors by name, career, number of posts, and number of girls who posted questions for mentor Mentor name STEM career Number of posts by mentor Number of girls who posted questions for mentor Dr. B High school mathematics teacher 17 12 Dr. G Chemical engineer 15 10 Dr. K Clinical psychologist 25 14 Dr. M Veterinary surgeon 27 14 Ms. N Geotechnical engineer 5 5 Dr. P Reproductive endocrinologist 15 10 Mentor Approach to the Community Every mentor w as asked questions by different combinations of girls (please see Table 5 2) Dr. M and Dr. K were asked questions by the largest number of girls; they each had 14 different girls post questions. Dr. B had 12 different girls post questions, Dr. G and Dr. P had 10 different girls post questions and Ms. N had different 5 girl s post
116 questions. The number of answers varied by mentor and by question. Some mentors grouped several questions together and answered them all at once; some mentors answered each que stion individually. Most of the mentors (Dr. B, Dr. G, Dr. K, Dr. M., and Dr. P) replied to the girls(s) by name. Student and Mentor Interactions The interactions between the students and the mentors were represented by question and answer threads or lon ger discussion threads that appeared on the Edmodo site. Some of the discussion threads were short, and consisted of a question by a student followed by an answer from the mentor. Other threads were longer and in some cases involved multiple students. I t became apparent that there were several types of interactions or exchanges between the students and the mentors in the OMC. Identifying Types of Interactions Over the course of the project, I observed four general types of interactions that took place be tween the girls and the mentors. These interactions were contained in the OMC discussion threads. I labeled the four types of interactions terminal discussion threads, group terminal discussion threads, associated terminal discussion threads, and extende d discussion threads. The types of threads are described with an example from the OMC in the following sections. Terminal discussion t hread The first and most common type of interaction observed was one in which a student asked a mentor one question and the mentor answered the question. No more exchanges of information about that question occurred between the participants and no one else joined in the discussion thread. I chose to label this type of interaction a
117 terminal discussion thread (TDT). This type of interaction was demonstrated in the following example. What would you say were the people, things, or events that got you interested in Geoscience (Denise, Edmodo transcript, May 1, 2013)? My father! He was a geotechnical engineer and I used to sp end Saturdays with him driving to job and construction sites to look at the soils and sometimes even a sinkhole and once he took me to the phosphate mines of [state] which is amazing (Ms. N, Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013). Group terminal discussion t hread A second and similar type of interaction observed was one in which two or more students asked one mentor the same or a similar question and the mentor answered their questions with one response. No more exchanges of information about that question occurr ed between the participants and no one else joined the discussion. I chose to label this type of interaction a group terminal discussion thread (GTDT). This type of interaction was demonstrated in the following example. What are the symptoms of a dog tha t has cancer (Xitali, Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013)? What cancer is most prone to dogs (Jordan, Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013)? Xitali and Jordan dogs and cats get lots of different types of cancer. The most common are skin cancers...so a lump or bump that you can see. The also get many cancers that you cannot see until they make the animal sick.....so cancers of the lung, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder...on and on. Usually you see general signs of illness....loss of appetite, vomiting, loss of energy, weakness etc. Some of these diseases can be very advanced before the pet shows signs, which makes them challenging to treat. Just as I am a specialist in surgery, there are specialists in cancer medicine there are veterinary oncologists, radiation oncol ogists and surgical oncologists. I like oncology a great deal, especially when I have cases where the surgical aspect of the treatment goes far to help the patient (Dr. M, Edmodo transcript, May 11, 2013).
118 Associated t er minal discussion t hread A third type of interaction observed was one in which a student asked a mentor a question and the mentor answered the question. Another student joined the discussion thread. The student asked an associated or related question which the mentor subsequently answered. No more exchanges of information about the questions took place again between the participants. I chose to label this type of interaction an associated terminal discussion thread (ATDT). This type of interaction was demonstrated in the following example How do you react to people's problems (Mary, Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013)? Hi Mary! I like your question. I react in many ways. I try to understand the origins and history of their problems and determine if these problems arise in a specific envir onment or at a particular time. I try to figure out the individual strengths of a person and incorporate them into a treatment plan. For example, if a person is insightful, they will likely deduce after therapy what types of environments are triggers for t heir disorders so they may employ adaptive coping strategies when confronted. Like anybody, I feel sad when I hear of loss. I feel anger when someone has been a victim, I feel frustration when individuals struggle with addiction etc. however, I mostly feel hopeful that with therapeutic intervention, they will make improvements and positive changes in their lives (Dr. K, Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013) That is really interesting! It is an amazing thing to be able to cure people in any way! It is really sad t o see someone hurt and you have the power to fix it! Is your job hard? What if you have no answer? Do you send them somewhere else? Have you ever not had an answer (Gail, Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013)? Gail, thank you for your questions! Like any profess ion, it is has its challenging moments. I find that it challenging when patients are full of fear and anxiety which may prevent them from changing destructive behavioral courses. If I feel that if they need a very specific trained therapist to overcome the ir issues, I will refer them out. For example, some therapists are highly trained in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and design their practice around treating this one disorder. In the cases of severe OCD, I would refer them to this type of specialist (Dr. K, Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013).
119 Extended discussion t hread The final type of interaction observed was one in which a student and a mentor engaged in an extended conversation about the same or similar topic. One student asked a mentor a question and the mentor answered the question. The student subsequently asked the mentor another related question. A lengthier discussion thread developed between the two participants until the original question and any subsequent questions were all sat isfied. I chose to label this type of interaction an extended discussion thread (EDT). This type of interaction was demonstrated in the following example between Kim and Dr. G. In her initial post, Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) about the topic. What exactly is a Semiconductor? I understand they are used to make computer chips, but what do the computer chips do in cell phones, cars, computers, etc. (Kim, Edmodo transcr ipt, May 1, 2013)? Kim, Good question! It helps if you think of materials as being in one of three categories: a conductor (like metal), an insulator (like glass) or a semiconductor (like silicon). A conducting material allows free flow of electrons throug h it. An insulating material barely allows electrons to move through it. A semiconductor is somewhere in the middle of a conductor and an insulator. It lets some electrons flow through it. A semiconductor is perfect for computer chips because engineers can control how many electrons flow through it at a given time. By controlling whether the electrons flow or not, we can control when the computer chip is "on" and when it is "off." We can also use these electrons as little data packets. So, a computer proces sing chip uses electrons to represent data and do computations. There are other computer chips that are used for storing data. Your cell phone has some of both, too (Dr. G, Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013). I understand now, also you said the engineer(s) ca n control how many electrons pass through at once. So if I saved two different pictures on a laptop, would different amounts of electrons pass through if the pictures had different quality, colors, etc. (Kim, Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013)?
120 Kim, Another e xcellent question. With the pictures on a computer, that is a completely different type of semiconductor than a processor chip. It is made of different semiconductor elements. Usually, a processor chip is made out of Silicon or Gallium & Arsenide. A comput er monitor or television screen is made of a different type of material. Usually something like thin layers of Zinc Sulfide on glass. This Zinc Sulfide type of material emits light in packets. So, if you are seeing a certain picture on a computer screen, t hen yes, the processor inside the computer communicates with another chip that controls the display screen, which then controls what color and how much color to emit (Dr. G, Edmodo transcript, May 6, 2013). Frequencies of Interactions There were 81 separa te and distinct discussion threads contained in the Edmodo site. These discussion threads represented all of the interactions between the girls and the mentors over the four week period. I went through the six mentor Protocol C transcripts and categorize d each discussion thread by type of interaction (TDT, GTDT, ATDT, and EDT). The discussions between the mentors and the students represented the four types of interactions. For two of the mentors (Dr. M and Dr. P), all four types were represented; for fo ur of the mentors (Dr. B, Dr. G, Dr. K, and Ms. N), less tha n four types were represented. There were 21 discussion threads between Dr. K and the Einstein Girls. Of the 21 threads, 20 were TDTs and one was an ATDT. There were no GTDTs or EDTs. Fourteen different girls asked Dr. K one or more question. There were also 21 discussion threads between Dr. M and the Einstein Girls. Of the 21 threads, 13 were TDTs, five were GTDTs, one was an ATDT, and two were EDTs. Fourteen different girls asked Dr. M one or more question and ten girls posted ques tions for both of the mentors. Dr. B was involved in the next highest number of discussion threads with the Einstein Girls; there were 13 threads. Of the 13 threads, nine were TDTs, one was a
121 GTDT, and three were EDTs. There were no ATDTs. Twelve different girls asked Dr. B one or more questions. Dr.G was involved in 12 discussion threads with the Einstein Girls. Of the 12 threads, eight were TDTs, two were GTDTs, and two were EDTs. There were no ATDTs. Ten d ifferent girls asked Dr. G one or more questions. There were 10 discussion threads between Dr. P and the Einstein Girls. Of the 10 threads, three were TDTs, five were GTDTs, and one was an EDT. There were no ATDTs. Ten different girls asked Dr. B one or more questions. Ms. N was involved in the least number of discussion threads during the online mentoring program. There were four discussion threads between Ms. N and the Einstein Girls. Of the four threads, three were GTDs, and one was an EDT. There were no TDTs or ATDTs. Five different girls asked Ms. N one or more questions. Please see Table 5 3 for a summary of the types and number of threa ds associated with each mentor. The discussion threads for all the mentors were also totaled by type represe nted (see Table 5 3) Of the 81 discussion threads, 53 were TDTs ( 65.4 %), 16 were GTDTs (19.8%), 3 were ATDTs (3.7%), and 9 were EDTs ( 11.1 %). Approximately 85 % of the conversations between the Einstein Girls and the female STEM mentors were ei ther TDTs or GTDTs. Table 5 3. Discussion threads by type, by mentor, total by type, and total by mentor Mentor TDT GTDT ATDT EDT Total Dr. B 9 1 0 3 13 Dr. G 8 2 0 2 12 Dr. K 20 0 1 0 21 Dr. M 13 5 1 2 21 Ms. N 0 3 0 1 4 Dr. P 3 5 1 1 10 Total 53 16 3 9 81 TDT stands for terminal discussion thread GTDT stands for group term inal discussion thre ad ATDT stands for associa ted terminal discussion thread EDT stands for extended discussion thread
122 Thematic Analysis of Online Discussions The onli ne mentoring community was designed to give girls who were interested in STEM the chance to communicate online with women who were successful STEM professionals. The community provided them a venue to ask the women questions about their careers, their int erests, and their science identities. The transcripts of the online conversations between the students and the mentors were thematically analyzed to better understand the nature of the online mentoring process. Results of the career exploration portion o f the project are presented in the following section. Career Exploration The Edmodo site opened up for the first time during Week 1 of the project when the mentors were asked to answer the initial question about their careers. The mentors were listed on t he site by their pseudonym which was their title and the first letter of their last name. The order in which the mentors were listed was randomly chosen: Dr. M, Veterinary Surgeon; Ms. N, Geotechnical Engineer; Dr. K, Clinical Psychologist; Dr. B, High S chool Mathematics Teacher; Dr. P, Reproductive Endocrinologist; and Dr. G, Chemical Engineer. Introductory posts by m entors The opening question was posted for each of the six mentors designed to initiate the conversations prior to Week 1 of the project. During Week 1 of the project each of Edmodo transcript, April 23, 2013)? Each mentor answered the question with a brief overview of their STEM career. The following
123 Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013) surgeon. This means that after veterinary school, I spent 4 years training specifi cally in surgery with patients that have surgical diseases that involve any part of the body except bones, Edmodo transcript, April 24,2013). Ms. N (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) challenging sites that had high groundwater, soft organic soil, trash/landfills, and even contamination in the soil or water Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, Ap ril 24, 2013) c post traumatic stress disorder, grief, co d with pain and lifestyle changes Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, April 26, 2013) math teacher responsible for teaching freshman Algebra 1/Honors Dr. P (Edmodo transcr ipt, April 29, 2013) After medical school, I went to a residency in obstetrics and gynecology for four 4 year s Finally Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) materials are used to make computer chips and laser devices used in such products as computers (duh) cell
124 phones, cars, Xbox, Playstations, DVD players and stuff for outer space These statements were the first posts to appear in the Edmodo site and began the online mentoring community discussions. questions according to the method de scribed in Chapter 4. Table 5 4 presents an overview of the eight cod es from the final a priori codebook that informed the career exploration portion of the project, including a definition for each code and the number of times each code appeared in the Edmodo transcripts. The results of the theoretical thematic analysis po rtion of this project are presented in the following sections of this report. To discuss each code, excerpts of representative discussion threads are presented and the type of interaction (TDT, GTDT, ATDT, or EDT) indicated. Table 5 4. Career exploration codes, definition of code, and frequency of appearance of code Career exploration code Definition of code Frequency of appearance of code Specific questions for mentors job 52 Mentor daily routine Relating to to day tasks in job 6 Mentor career choice Reason(s) mentor chose her career 11 Mentor career satisfaction Source(s) of satisfaction for mentor in her career 27 Mentor career challenges Source(s) of challenge for mentor in her career 27 Mentor educational pathway Course pathways in high school, college, and professional school 25 Collaboration with STEM peers Ways in which mentor works with other STEM professionals in career 14 Advice from mentors Girls sought advice from mentors 18 Total 262
125 Code 1 : Specific questions for each m entor During the Einstein Girls meetings in Week 1 the girls went to the Edmodo site t, Edmodo transcript, April 23, 2013)? After reading the answers they began posting questions for the mentors. Many of the questions asked were directed towards individual mentors and were often specific in nature. The girls asked 53 questions during th e first week as they accessed the Edmodo site during Einstein Girls meetings. Jordan, Denise, and Kim also posted questions from home. The mentors answered most of the questions posted at the site during the Weeks 1 and 2. Most of the questions were of the Terminal Discussion Thread (TDT) type but the other three discussion thread types were also observed. Dr. K (clinical psychologist) and Dr. M (veterinary s urgeon) were the first mentors to login to the Edmodo site and answered the initial question. Se veral of the girls were (Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013) initial post that animals from area parks This c omment seemed to pique the interest of three of the Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013)? Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013 ) st was a crocodile she was egg bound & needed a C section! That was interesting! I've done procedures on a Florida panther & a mandrill from [animal park] & various other things This discussion thread was an example of a GTDT since three students asked similar questions that were answered with one post by the mentor. There were no more exchanges of information about the question and no o ne else joined the discussion.
126 (Ed modo transcript, April 24, 2013) practice is also centered upon Clinical Health Psychology, in which I help individuals develop coping strategies to manage anxiety and depression as sociated with pain and lifestyle changes Gail (Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013) responded to the statement yourself ? Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) both! In psychotherapy, I help people develop strategies to identify negative thoughts She also told Gail hindering their ability to function in a healthy manner. Once patients learn these strategies, they are asked to independently put them into acti K, Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) This was an example of a TDT. Kim (Edmodo transcript, April 30, 2013) asked Dr. B. a specific question about e content and similar equations as I solve now ? Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, May 7, 2013) I am so super excite d to hear that you love math! That positive attitude about the subject will definitely lead to continued success in math Algebra is a great prep course for Algebra 1. The concepts are the same, just a higher le Edmodo transcript, May 7, 2013).
127 Jordan and Rickie had GTDT questions for Dr. G about how she used my field of science, we use math equat ions to describe how the atoms and electrons in Edmodo transcript, take these complex equations and put them into a computer program. Some of my computer programs have hundreds of math equat ions that have to be solved all at the sam Edmodo transcript, May 13, 2013). The final example of a specific question was an example of an ATDT combined with an EDT which had an unusual outcome. Ms. N shared that her father was also a geote chnical engineer and used to take her out to job and construction sites on Saturdays to look at soils, phosphate mines, and sinkholes. This prompted Jordan to ask a question about sinkholes because they had been discussing them in her fifth grade science class Edmodo transcript, (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) answer underground. They occur bec slowly move downward to fill these openings This response caused Jordan and Mary to ask follow up questions about sinkholes. Jordan (Edmodo transcript, Ma y 8, 2013) Mary (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) your hous Ms. N did not answer either question. Ins tead, for her last post in to do my best in everything I do and also challenge myself to learn and do more. Those
128 qualities have allowed me to grow fully and qu Ms. N, Edmodo transcript, May 17, 2013). The code career specifics appeared 52 times in the data, more times than any other code in the project. Many of the discussion threads were TDTs but there were also examples of GTDTs, ATDTs, and ETDs in the career specifics category. When the threads were EDTs the participants explored the topics in question at a greater depth. The next code examined was mentor daily routine. Code 2: Mentor daily r outine Several girls asked questions about the daily routines of t he six STEM professionals. Since the STEM areas represented were diverse, questions about their jobs were wide ranging. The girls seemed interested in finding out about what the women did in their careers on a daily basis including working hours, working locations, She asked the question, Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013)? Dr. P. (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) responded by saying my day anywhere from 7 am to 8 am and finish by 4 5 pm. I see patients in clinic, I do procedures in the office and operate as well Rickie also wanted to know something about a mentor daily routine when she as (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) 8 patients in one day of work. The therapy session lasts approximately one hour Mary Ann also had a daily Edmodo transcript, older aging population.
129 There are also therapists who primary focus on the needs of th Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013). One last example of a mentor daily routine came from Annie and was directed to wards Dr. G. Annie (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) your job work to drive to [city] to give an update on my work and have a conference with my boss and G, Edmodo transcr ipt, May 13, 2013). She added Edmodo transcript, May 13, 2013). The code mentor daily routine only appeared six times in the data. All of the discussion t hreads were TDTs. Each question asked about mentor daily routine was answered directly by the mentor and there were no were no other exchanges of information on that topic between the two participants. The next code examined was mentor career choice. Code 3: Mentor career c hoice The reasons why a mentor chose her career were as varied as the careers themselves. All six mentors were asked by the girls why they selected their particular career. For example, Jordan wanted to know why Dr. G decided on chemic al Edmodo transcript, Mate G, Edmodo transcript, I wanted to study some more. So, I went to graduate school at [university] to study
130 sem Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013)! Dr. M. (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) and that what initially got her interested in her job was the opportunity to Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013). Dr. P. (Edmodo transcript, May 6, 2013) said she was first inspired to pursue medicine was after watching her aunt struggle with infertility and was inspired by Mother Theresa by and medical care Ms. N probably had the most personal reason for wanting to become a geotechnical engineer. When asked by Greta if she always wanted to be a would take me on weekends to job sites. I became fascinated looking at the big construction projects and wanted to be a part of it someway [ sic Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013). The code mentor career choice appeared 11 times in the data. All of the questions about ment or career choice were TDTs. Each question asked about mentor career choice was answered directly by the mentor and there were no were no other exchanges of information on that topic between the two participants. The next code examined was mentor career sa tisfaction. Code 4: Mentor career s atisfaction Several girls asked the mentors if they were satisfied in their careers. Some girls also asked if they liked what they did or if they enjoyed their career. For example, Tabbie asked Dr. M what she liked mo st about her job as a veterinary surgeon. She
131 Edmodo transcript, opportunity to work with the othe r doctors, veterinary technicians, assistants & staff, all Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013). explaining complex medica l issues in terms they can understand & I know that is very happy & makes the late ni Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013). Similarly, Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) shared with the girls what she ts and figuring out what is causing their infertility. An equally favorite part is when they are She told the I have the privilege of helping others. I am (Dr. P, Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013). Denise (Edmodo transcript, May 1, 2013) asked Dr. B. if she enjoyed being a nts may be hard to deal with She replied, Your first question made me smile: ) Each day brings a new set of challenges with the students and discipline issues, but it does not deter me from teaching them. I enjoy what Edmodo transcript, May 7, 2013).
132 The code mentor career satisfaction appeared 27 times in the data. Some of the mentors were asked directly about their satisfaction in their jobs and some shared information when asked other questions. The co de appeared in a few TDTs but also appeared in other discussion threads. In a similar way, the mentors discussed with the girls some of the challenges they faced in their careers. Code 5: Mentor career c hallenges A few of the girls asked mentors about the challenges they faced in their careers, but most of the mentors shared about their career challenges while answering other questions. Jordan specifically asked Dr. G if she ever had a project fail. She rch is mostly about failure. Every researcher tries a bunch of things that fail before they ever think of the idea that G, Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013). Gail (Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013) also a sked a direct question about career go Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) It is always sad but usually the most compassionate choice for the animal. Surgeries do fail or involve complications from time to tim She wners Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013). In most of the discussion threads, mentor career challenges were shared when answering other questions. Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, May 7, 2013) told Denise that and Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) overwhelming information about topics I considered to be personal Both mentors
133 concluded that through perseverance would not deter them from moving forward in their professions. Similarly, Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 20130) profession, it is has its challenging moments. I find that it challenging w hen patients are full of fear and anxiety which may prevent them from changing destructive behavioral courses The code mentor career challenges appeared 27 times in the data. The code appeared in a few TDTs but also appeared in other discussion threads. The next code examined was mentor educational pathways. Code 6: Mentor educational p athways school selections and their educational pathways. Five of the s ix mentors were asked by the girls something about their college experiences. The sixth mentor (Ms. N) mentioned her college experience during her opening remarks. o college for 4 years at [university] and I received my Ph.D. from Edmodo transcript, May research, internship and post Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013). Dr. M. (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) also discussed her path to becoming surgical residency in 1995 (Dr. M, Edmodo transcript, April 2 5 2013). Dr. P (Edmodo transcrip t, A pril 29, 2013)
134 fellowship at [university]. Once I completed my training I too k an exam to become board certified in both OB/GYN and infertility probably the most tough...lots of study and memorization. Once we got into the later Edmodo transcript, May 18, 2013). The code mentor educational pathways appeared 25 times in the data. Most of the question and answer interactions were examples of TDTs where the question was answered directly by the mentor and there were no were no other exchanges of information on that topic between the two participants. The next code examined was collaboration with peers. Co de 7: Collaboration with p eers Several of the mentors talked about the importance of working with other STEM professionals in their own careers. For example, Dr. G mentioned collaboration or working with co workers six times. Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, Apr il 25, 2013) shared because you can all collaborate to come up with ideas. Sometimes each teammate comes up with one piece of an overall solution She also said in a different post that Edmodo transcript, April 27, 2013). Dr. K. mentioned that she works with other psychologists when dealing with some of her patients] need a very specific trained therapist to overcome their issues, I will refer them Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013). Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013)
135 also mentioned that she co other areas almost every day Finally Ms. N (Edmodo transcript, May 17, 2013) shared offices, then merged it with a 3000 person firm The code collaboration with peers appeared 14 times in the data. None of the students asked direct questions about the code of collaboration with peers, but the information was share d during their various answers. The final code examined was advice from mentors. Code 8: Advice from m entors Several of the girls took advantage of the opportunity to ask a particular mentor advice about a topic relevant to their interests. For example, fifth grader Jordan took the occasion to ask for advice from Dr. B. regarding her mathematics courses in school She asked, Algebra and I do not know if I am rea dy (Jordan, Edmodo transcript, May 10, 2013). Dr. B. (Edmodo transcript, May 17, 2013) gave her advice by saying If you are currently in Accelerated Math, then you are definitely ready for pre algebra/honors next year. The accelerated course definitely pro vides you with good foundational knowledge for success Rickie, who was interested in veterinary medicine, asked Dr. M for advice on with them Edmodo transcript, April 24, 2013)? Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, May 18 2013) responded by dog/cat groomin g/training, veterinary medicine where there are a huge variety of
136 opportunities horses, cows, small animals, exotics etc, to working with marine animals, fish, birds sue a science Edmodo transcript, May 18, 2013). Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) something you love doing and will enjoy doing everyday [ sic ] She also told the girls that if they are interested in pursuing a career in a medical field, then they should counselor, a MA, a surgical Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013). An interesting discussion thread was an EDT occurred between Denise and Dr. M. This thread had seven entries and was the longest thread in the project. Denise (Edmodo transcript, April 2 5, 2013) any local animal shelters that accept young girls. I love animals, and I wanted to voluntee r Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 26, 2013) a Denise (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) Dr. M. (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) Denise (Edmodo transc ript, April 30, 2013) discuss with my family One day later, Denise (Edmodo transcr ipt, May 1, 2013) added
137 our program to older dogs with my parents and they love it She also wanted to know if Edmodo transcript, (Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013) final response in While this dis cussion thread was taking place, Jordan joined in with her own EDT which was an associated thread with the one initiated by Denise. She wanted to know before? If so do you have Edmodo transcript, April 30, 2013)? Dr. M told Jordan that she did volunteer at many vet hospitals when she was a teenager. She me enough to Edmodo transcript, April 30, 2013). This prompted Jordan (Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013) (Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013 ) response not all of these establishments are the same in terms of the services they offer, quality of service, staffing & so o This se t of 11 exchanges took place between two Einstein Girls and one mentor over an eight day period. The conversations were associated with each other and both threads represented distinct conversations between two girls and one mentor. The threads were exam remaining discussion threads were TDTs. Overall, the code advice from mentors appeared 18 times in the data.
138 T he construct of career exploration was one that the girl s had great interest, as demonstrated by the number of their questions. Over half of the OMC discussions between the girls and mentors focused on career exploration. The remainder of the discussions focused on the constructs of STEM interest and science identity. The results of those constructs are presented in the next two sections. STEM Interest The topic of science interest has been well documented in the science education literature and was discussed in Chapter 2. For the purposes of this proj ect, science interest and STEM interest are used interchangeably. In addition to questions on career exploration, the girls also asked questions about the mento 5 presents an overview of the three codes from the final a priori codebook that informed the STEM interest portion of the project, including a definition for each code and the number of times each code appeared in the Edmodo transcripts. The results of the theoretical thematic analysis portion of this pro ject are presented in the following sections of this report. To discuss each code, excerpts of representative discussion threads are presented and the type of interaction (TDT, GTDT, ATDT, or EDT) indicated. The criteria developed by Maltese and Tai (201 0) were used as codes for this portion of the project. Code 9: Timing of i nterest The girls asked the mentors questions about their interests in STEM. Most of the when they firs ) timing criteria (see Table 5 5 ). The answers varied among the
139 mentors, but all six were able to identify an approximate time at which they became interested in scie nce or STEM and there was an example from each category. Always. Dr. K and Ms. N indicated that they were always interested in STEM. Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) age, in trying to figure out why pe ople had so many different kinds of reactions to the same event Ms. N indicated that she became interested in geotechnical engineering the big con struction projects and wanted to be a part of it someway [ sic Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013). K 5. Dr. M and Dr. P indicated they became interested in their STEM fields by late elementary school. Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) said, age & thought his life was pretty cool Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, May 6, 2013) by 11 6 8. Dr. B and Dr. G mentioned the middle school years as the defining time for their interests in STEM. It was interesting that Dr. B preferred science over r myself more of a math person, however as a middle schooler [ sic ] I preferred science. Biology was my favorite Edmodo transcript, May 14, 2013). Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, May 13, 2013) cience in 8th grade, when I 9 12. Both Dr. G and Dr. M said their interests in STEM increased during high school. Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, April 27, 2013) said she became more interested in
140 in ninth grade. Dr. M. also mentioned that ninth grade was a defining year for her as well. College. Even though the mentors were already interested in STEM by their college years, three of them mentioned their college years as influential times for their careers. Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 18, 2013) Psychology classes in college, it became very obvious to me what my career choice should be Dr. G. (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) Dr. M. (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) Table 5 5. STEM interest codes, definition of code, and frequen cy of appearance of code STEM interest code Definition of code Frequency of appearance of code Timing of interest Point in time when p articipant became interested in S TEM: A lways, K 5, 6 8, 9 12, or college 21 Source of interest School family, or self 16 Nature of interest I ntrinsic, education based themes, or cannot identify 23 Total 60 Code 10: Sources of i nterest The girls also asked questions about the sources of STEM interest for the mentors. A few of the questions were direct, such this que stion posed by Emily (Edmodo transcript, May 1, 2013) how old were you In other cases, the mentor shared about the sources of STEM interest while answering other questions. The a nswers varied from mentor to mentor
141 but all six mentors were able to identify their sources of interest in STEM. Most of the discussion threads were TDTs. source of interest criteri a of school, famil y, and self (see Table 5 5). School. Dr. B. talked about school and a specific teacher being the source of loved math and loved teaching and therefore made going to clas s fun. He took what Edmodo transcript, May 1, 2013). Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, May 14, 2013) favorite because I loved dissections Dr. G (E dmodo transcript, May 2, 2013) let us do a lot of experiments She expected all of us to und Edmodo transcript, May 2, 2013). Family. Ms. N was inspired to become a geotechnical engineer by her father. and construction sites to look at soils an d sometimes even a sinkhole and once he took Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013). Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, May 17, 2013) mentioned that her mother inspired her to work hard ing even though she did not attend college herself Self. The only mentor to mention self as the source of interest was Dr. K. She many d Edmodo transcript, May 8,
142 wondered how we my siblings and I came from the same environment yet were different peo Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013). Code 11: Nature of i nterest type of experience of the cases, the mentor shared about the nature of their STEM interests while answering other questions. The answers varied from mentor to mentor but all six mentors were able to identify the nature of interest in STEM. The responses were divided into Maltese of interest criteri a of intrinsic, education based themes, and cannot identify (see Table 5 5). Intrinsic. Dr. K, Ms N, and Dr. P mentioned that the source of their interest came from within. Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 18, 2013) told the girls that she was even when I was a child. I often would think about things such as birth order, family dynamics, genetics to see if I could come up with any plausible explanations Ms. N (Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013) also Dr. P also mentioned that she knew from an early age that she wanted to become a reproductive endocrinologist. She told the girls that her [ sic ] appointments. Experiencing her journey through treatments made me realize I loved being Edmodo transcript, May 6, 2013). She recognized specialty requires alot [ sic Edmodo transcript, May 6, 2013).
143 Education bas ed themes. Dr. B and Dr. G both discussed the impact of teachers and school experiences on their interest in STEM. Dr. M also talked about the le Edmodo transcript, May 11, 2013). Cannot identify. This code did not appear in any of th e discussions with the mentors. Science Identity The topic of science identity has been well documented in the science education literature and was discussed in Chapter 2. In addition to questions on career science identities. Table 5 6 presents an overview of the three codes from the final a priori codebook that informed the science identity portion of the project, including a definition for each code and the number of times each code appeared in the Edmodo transcripts. The results o f the theoretical thematic analysis portion of this project are presented in the following sections of this report. To discuss each code, excerpts of repre sentative discussion threads are presented Table 5 6. Science identity codes, definition of code, and frequency of appearance of code STEM identity code Definition of code Frequency of appearance of code Science person Person sees themselves as a science person 5 Attracted to science Person is attracted to science, scientific concepts, and science ac tivities 8 Shaped by surroundings Person enjoys science due to something in her surroundings 9 Total 22
144 Code 12: Science person Edmo do transcript, May 8, 2013)? This question came from the list of suggested questions about science identity designed to help the girls get the convers ations initiated (See Appendix J ). The answers varied but each mentor answered the question with the exc eption of Ms. N. For example, Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013) answered Reddie by as a behavioral and cognitive specialist who focuses on examining behavior and c ognition Dr. M also said she saw herself as a science person. She said that she efore, I was...but I started Edmodo transcript, May 11, 2013). Dr. P said that she considered herself a science person. Dr. B (Edmodo transcript, May 14, 2013) of a math person than a science person. Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, May 13, 2013) also answered the question posted by science classes through high school and had so many friends who were science people, too. We really loved the challenge of figuring out complicated problems She Edmodo tra nscript, May 13, 2013)? Reddie never answered the question posted by Dr. G.
145 The code science person appeared 5 times throughout the data. All of the questions were TDTs. Each question asked about being a science person was answered directly by the men tor and there were no more exchanges on information on that topic between the two participants. The next code examined was attracted to science. Code 13: Attracted to s cience None of the girls asked the mentors if they were attracted to science but four of the six mentors shared examples in which they loved science or were drawn to science classes in school. For example, Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, April 25, 2013) you, I loved math and science in school. When I was in high school I especial ly liked Chemistry Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, April 29, 2013) and Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013) medicine & animals is a give while answering a question from Tabbie about job satisfaction. Finally, Ms. N (Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013) shared with the girls that part of it The code attracted to science appeared 8 times throughout the data and appeared when the mentors were answering other questions. The final code examined was attracted to science. Code 14: Shaped by s urroundings None of the girls asked the mentors if their science identity was shaped by their surroundings but four of the mentors shared examples in which this was true. For example, Dr. G (Edmodo transcript, May 13, 2013) science classes
146 Edm odo transcript, May 6, 2013). Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, May 3, 2013) relayed a story about the influence of those around her when realize where my passions & skills lay & I was back on the vet s chool track Ms. N shared about the influence of her surroundings while visiting construction sites as a child with her father, and Dr. P (Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013) said she enjoyed sses or community activities The code shaped by surroundings appeared 9 times throughout the data and appeared when the mentors were answering other questions. Summary I counted the frequency in which the mentors and girls were involved in discussion threads pertaining to th e constructs of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity Of the 81 separate and distinct discussion threads contained in the Edmodo site, 59 related to career exploration, 17 related to STEM interest, and 5 related to science identity. There were 262 coded units located in the six Protocol C transcripts of the discussions between the mentors and girls. Of the 262 coded units, 180 coded units referred to career exploration, 60 coded units referred to STEM interest, and 22 coded units referred to s cience identity
147 Research Question 2 constraints surrounding online mentoring ? The next portion of this project focused on the perceptions of t he online mentoring community from the perspectives of the Einstein Girls and the female STEM mentors. I was seeking information on both the opportunities and the constraints of the program. Seven girls spoke about the opportunities and constraints throu gh their interviews. A focus group also was conducted with the six mentors to collect their data. The results are presented in the sections below and are presented by students and mentors. During the interviews, the girls discussed six areas that they perceived as opportunities related to the OMC. These areas were: Edmodo site operation, impressions of mentors, exploring STEM careers, increase STEM interest, increase science identity, and personal satisfaction w ith program. The following sections present the six areas the girls identified as opportunities afforded by the OMC. Each area includes supporting quotations f rom the interview transcripts. Edmodo site o peration Several girls mentioned that they felt the Edmodo program was easy for them to
148 that they [the mentors] would take a Some girls noted that when they went back to the site they discovered that answers had been posted to their questions. Kim (personal interview, May 21, 2013) mentioned this (personal interview, May 2 Two of the girls said they liked the online features of the site. Gail (personal ith someone [the a little shy she liked the anonymity afforded by the online format. She s questions face to 2013). Gail also noted that she may have felt intimidated by the mento rs if she met with them face to face. The girls were able to read the other questions and answers posted on the site. ld read your question and was reading the
149 Two girls mentioned they liked being able to go to the Edmodo site where they had a choic e of mentors and careers to explore. Jordan (personal interview, May 20, a positive feat ure for her was being able to talk to a variety of professionals from diverse interview, May 2 1, 2013). Three girls mentioned that they visited the Edmodo site outside of school. Kim mentioned school and either download the app or go on our own computers and do it (Denise, personal interview, May 23, 2013). Finally, Jordan mentioned using a mobile nterview, May access the Edmodo site from home. Impressions of m entors The girls also shared about the mentors that were a part of the OMC. When prompted, the girls interviewed made several specific comments about the mentors.
150 One positive feature of the OMC for the girls was the opportunity to talk online with real pretty intereste d in science and math but have never had any good opportunities to outside working in thei Four girls also mentioned feeling comfortable talking online with the mentors. and helpful and they were so kind and they were so open with us on how they loved their fields in make us feel awkward. She led us in in on one, not as a she felt one of the mentors put some thought into her answer. She said questions about that [geotechnical engineering] and, um, I got really good answers from their explanations and mentors answered the questions by student name.
151 Exploring STEM c areers Another positive feature of the OMC mentioned by the girls was the opportunity to explore STEM careers with the mentors. Jordan, Kim, Denise, Gail, Tabbie, and Georgia all mentioned that they enjoyed learning about the various careers from the mentors. The girls interviewed were interested in exploring different careers. Denise ( to 2013). Pam was interested in learning about veterinary science as well as endocrinology, while Gail (personal interview, May 28, 2013) mentioned an interest in A few girls men tioned learning more about other jobs relating to the careers of the mentors. Gail said that there were aspects of medicine that she had not considered. complicated branches regular
152 and Dr. P. also discussed some of the various branches associated with medicine. Den ise, Tabbie, and Gail said this made them interested in studying their fields and the areas of specialization. When I asked the girls during their interviews if meeting with the mentors caused them to consider studying their fields in STEM, all seven girls responded affirmatively. sonal interview, May pursue their various careers (Kim, personal interview, May 21, 2013). She also said 2013). Increase in STEM i nterest All seven girls interviewed said that in some way their interest in STEM increased because of the OMC. Jordan, Kim, a nd Tabbie mentioned that, while they already had an interest in STEM prior to the program, their interest increased over the course of the project. Kim (personal interview, May 21, 2013) noted that she already was interested in science prior to the OMC pr that her interest was
153 interview, May 28, 2013). Gail, Georgia, and Pam reported that their STEM interest increased a l ittle over the course of the program. Denise (personal interview, May 23, 2013) mentioned that y interest in 23, 2013). Increase in science i dentity The girls also talked about their science identities and most said that participating in the program caused some sort of increase in their science identities. Denise and Kim said that they already saw themselves as science people before the program and Kim (personal interview, May 21, 2013) said she saw herself as both a science and Georgia, Pam, and Tabbie all said the program helped them with their science identities but Gail said she did not know. Personal satisfaction with p rogram Several of the girls expressed personal satisfaction with the program during their interviews. Six of the girls either said they enjoyed the prog ram or were interested in
154 bie (personal interview, May 28, t did not answer the question. Both Denise and Jordan mentioned that they benefitted from a piece of advice given t o Gail by Dr. B. regarding taking mathematics tests. Jordan (personal interview, que Jordan and Kim also mentioned they appreciated receiving advice from Dr. B. regarding their Pre Algebra and Algebra courses for the upcoming year. Finally, Denise of OMC Opportunitie s Following the conclusion of the program I conducted a focus group with the six mentors to determine their perceptions of the opportunities and constraints afforded by the online mentoring community. The mentors mentioned the followin g as positives: features of the Edmodo site, benefits to students, opportunity to motivate girls in STEM,
155 and personal satisfaction with program. The following sections present the four areas accompanied by supporting quotations taken from the focus group transcript. Features of Edmodo s ite The first positive comments about the program related to the Edmodo site itself. Five of the six mentors (Dr. B, Dr. G, Dr. K, Dr. M, and Dr. P) mentioned the asynchronous nature of the OMC program as a positive featur e This feature allowed the mentors to access the Edmodo site when it was convenient for their personal format was conducive to possible schedule conflicts as a result of work schedules and other commitments that prevent face to Four of the mentors noted that along with being asynch ronous, the online format offered a level of anonymity for the students. During the focus group, Dr. G, Dr. M, and Dr. P. all concurred that they felt that since the girls could ask questions anonymously, they could do so without fear of intimidation or j udgments by anyone. Dr. K (focus conversations: Non leviated with the online format (Dr. K, focus group interview, May 30, 2013). Dr. G, Dr. M, and Dr., P thought the way the girls were guided through some of the questions was helpful. I gave the girls a list of suggested questions to get them started with the question and answer process (see Appendix G). The three mentors also mentioned that they thought it was a good idea that all messages had to be approved by the owner of the site before messages posted in the Edmodo site. This
156 was a feature selected in the Edmodo program when the site was set up. Finally, they felt the program was just the right length of time to hold the interest of the girls and to accommodate the maximum number of questions; the program lasted approximately four weeks. Benefits to s tudents The mentors also thought that the program was beneficial to the Einstein Girls. Three mentors (Dr. B, Dr. K, and Ms. N) made references to the students who participated in the program. Dr. B (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) felt the girls the girls did not appear to be afraid to talk with the mentors. She indicated that she enjoyed the nature of the conversations that took place. She also noted that s everal of ). Dr. B and Dr. K mentioned that they both felt comfortable talking with the inte sic in Opportunity to motivate g irls in STEM The mentors used the OMC as an opportunity to help encourage the Einstein Girls in STEM. Dr. K (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) mentioned that she was
157 thou they might not know the answer to could BLOCK them from ever pursuing a STEM N, focus group interview, May 30, 2013). Dr. K (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) felt that the Einstein Girls program and the online mentoring program helped experienc need to be e Personal satisfaction with p rogra m The mentors indicated that t hey enjoyed being included in the program and made several comments that indicated personal satisfaction with the program. Dr. G, Dr. M, and Dr. P said they had never been a part of such a program and were interested in seeing how it would work. Dr. K (f While the overwhelming majority of the responses were positive, the students interviewed did have several comments regarding what they perceived were limitations of the OMC program. The first limitation was mentioned by Kim. She noticed that over
158 time, the size of the Edmodo site became increasingly unmanageable as more know that there would be that many questions to look through and have to look at every single one to m personal interview, May 21, 2013). Georgia had an interesting insight as well. She was the girl who did not post any questions to the site but was observed on three occasions reading the que stions and answers from her computer. When I asked her why she did interview, May 29, 2013). Pam thought it became increasingly difficult to think of the different, like [ sic ] to her that I thought the project had a life span and that we probably reached the end by mid Two o ther interesting comments came from the girls regarding the choices of mentors. Kim and Gail thought there should have been more female STEM mentors all of the STEM fields represented Denise (personal interview, May 23, 2013) said that s
159 (personal interview, May 28, 2013) stated she also was less interested in the geot mentioned being the least interested in the career of the High School Mathematics Teacher added t OMC centered on the functionality of the site. Two of the mentors expressed uncertainty about t he program prior to the start of the program. Dr. B (focus group Dr. G., Dr. M., and D r. P. note d that there were several duplicate questions on the site. One girl did not login until the final week of the program and asked Dr. M several questions already asked by other girls. Dr. G felt that the order in which the mentors were presented may have influenced the number of questions posted for each mentor. Dr. M was presented first in the Edmodo site and had the most posts. Dr. G wondered if the engineers would have experienced more activity had they been presented first. Finally, several mentors also shared that they had to think about how to
160 frame their answers with understandable language that was age appropriate for the students. They had to rely on their written answers s ince their communication tools were limited within the Edmodo si te. Rating the OMC The participants were asked if the program met their expectations and to rate the program. The girls interviewed felt the program either met their expectations or ter than I thought it the way they expected. The mentors had similar comments. Dr. M (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) said The participants were asked to rate the online mentoring program. The girls a scale of 1 (persona scale of 1
161 The mentors gave simi lar comments. Dr. K (focus group interview, May 30, Summary The seven student interviews and the focus group interview together were important dat surrounding the OMC and the constraints afforded by the OMC. C hapter 6 presents a summary of the project and discussion of the results
162 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION Introduction This project was designed to give girls who were interested in STEM the chance to communicate online with women who we re successful STEM professionals. The comm unity provided the girls a setting in which to ask the women questions about their careers, their interests, and their s cience identities. Through the venue the girls were able to explore various STEM careers, we re exposed to positive role models, and potentially increase their interest in STEM for the future. To better understand the mentoring process, I examined the discussions that took place between the girls and the mentors on several levels and explored the themes that emerged from those process, I conducted interviews of seven selected Einstein Girls and conducted a focus group with the six mentors and analyz ed their collective responses. The project took place through the Internet using the secure educational social networking program Edmodo and spanned a four week period between April and May 2013. All of the communications between the participants were asynchronous. The stu dents used the Einstein Girls after school academy meeting time to participate in the project and several of the students also accessed the site from their homes. The mentors accessed the site when convenient to their schedules from the locations of their choice. The girls posted questions for the mentors about their careers and their the posts and in several cases engaged some of the girls in extended discussions.
163 Discussion of RQ 1 RQ 1: What is the nature of the online mentoring process -with special e identities? The first research question was designed to determine the nature of the online mentoring process that took place between the Einstein Girls and six female STEM mentors. Special emphasis was placed on the constructs of career exploration, STE M interest, and science identity To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process, I looked at specific aspects of the participation by the Einstein Girls in the OMC and specific aspects of the participation by the mentors in the OMC. Nex t I studied the types of discussion threads that took place between girls and mentors and determined the types and numbers of interactions that occurred between the members. Finally, I examined the overarching themes that were present in the community. A s I made these investigati ons, several interesting discoveries were revealed. These discoverie s related to the way community members participated in the OMC and the types of interactions that occurred between the members. In addition, there were several interesting findings that were generated by the thematic analysis of the online discussions. These findings are presented in the sections below. Each Einstein Girl Participated in Her Own Way The first set of findings related to the way in which the girls participated in the OMC project. Since the girls were members of the Einstein Girls after school academy, their involvement in an ISL program was voluntary. Membership in the OMC was also voluntary and participation in the community was up to the discretion of the girls and their families. As such, each girl was free to participate in the community in her own unique way. Some girls immersed themselves in the program right away and posted
164 many times while others waited two or three weeks to join in the discussions and posted only a few times or not at all. There were sev eral girls whose participation efforts fell between the two extremes. Overall, t he girls posted a varying number of questions as well as a variety of types of questions They posted from school and in some cases posted from home. To determine the partic ipation of the Einstein Girls, I looked at their numbers of questions posted, their types of questions posted, their numbers of mentors questioned, and their participation from inside and outside of the classroom. There were several findings from this por tion of RQ 1 which are discussed in the following sections. Numbers of questions p ost ed To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process for the girls, I began with an examination of the numbers of questions posted by the girls fo r the mentors. The girls posted a varying number of questions on the Edmodo site. Jordan posted more questions than anyone else in the Einstein Girls. She asked 29 questions which was almost twice as many as anyone else. Denise asked 15 questions, Rick ie asked 12 questions, Reddie asked 11 questions, and Gail asked 10 questions. Seven girls posted five to nine questions, six posted one to four questions, and one girl did not post any questions. Five girls (Denise, Gail, Jordan, Kim, and Xitali) posted from outside of school in addition to posting during Einstein Girls meetings. I wondered why the number of posts by the girls varied so much, so I asked that question of two of the girls interviewed for RQ 2. The question was first posed to
165 answer I, just l ike [ sic ] (Jordan, personal interview, May 20, 2013). It seemed apparent that she was the girl most interested in the project. She asked the greatest number of questions during the project. In addition, I observed and noted that Jordan was engaged in the other science related activities that took place during the semester that were not directly a part of the OMC. Finally, she was the first girl to post from out of school and the girl who poste d the most times from out of school. Jordan posted six questions during Einstein Girls meetings and 23 questions from out of school. I wondered how she was able to post so many times, especially from out of (Mrs. Scott, personal interview, May 20, 2013)? Jordan (personal interview, May 20, affirmatively. Some girls seemed content to ask a minimum number of questions or no questions at all. I considered the case of Georgia who did not post any questions to the Edmodo site. I know she was logged into the site because she altered her online profile. In addition, I observed her viewing the site during Einstein Girls meetings on three separate occasions, which was noted in the res earcher journal. Because of her apparent lack of involvement, she was another one of the girls I selected to interview for w, May 29, 2013)? She responded by
166 posting questions for the mentors. I had assumed t hat she was not interested in asking questions but found out through her interview that she was not interested in asking questions that had been already asked by another girl. Two girls (Beth and Connie) posted only one time. Beth joined the group late and only participated in one Einstein Girls meeting. During that meeting she wrote Dr. M a series of questions about her career as a veterinary surgeon, most of which had already been asked. Connie (the eighth grade former Einstein Girl student assistant ) asked a very specific question for Dr. K. She was working on a project for school and took the opportunity to reach out to the clinical psychologist and obtain help on her project. Four girls (Heather, Mary Ann, Pam, and Tabbie) only posted two questio ns during the entire project. I wondered why they asked so few questions despite having four weeks to work on the project. Pam gave some insight into the question when she to think of what to ask the different like [ sic The four girls only asked TDTs and received their responses from the mentors. They did not ask any follow up questions. Types of questions posted To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process for the girls, I also examined of the types of questions posted by the girls. The girls posted a variety of types of questions at the Edmodo site. It appeared tha t several of the girls put a great deal of thought into their questions and that they took advantage of the opportunity to have an online forum with actual STEM professionals. I observed that Denise, Gail,
167 Jordan, and Kim asked the greatest variety of que stions of the mentors. Based on their numbers of questions and types of questions, it seemed they were interested in the mentoring process, or in the very least were interested in being a part of the Edmodo social network. They were eager to ask their qu estions as well as to receive their answers and were all involved in EDTs. Denise, Gail, Jordan, and Kim asked questions about the constructs of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity. Not surprisingly, these same four girls accessed the Edmodo site from outside of school. I selected these girls as interview candidates for RQ 2 based on their high level of involvement in the project. Conversely, some girls did not appear to put a lot of thought into their questions. Shammie (Edmodo tran script, May 15, 2013) asked five of the mentors the same TDT question which was, Week 4 of the project and asked the mentors no other questions. I wondered if she was i nterested in having discussions with the mentors or simply interested in the social experience with friends during Einstein Girls meetings. Similarly, Reddie (Edmodo yourself was attempting to initiate a discussion thread with Reddie. However Reddie never answered the question on the Edmodo site. This made me wonder if she went back to the Edmodo site to read the discussion threads, if she saw the answer to her question, or even noticed that Dr. G had asked her a question.
168 There were a number of interesting questions posted by other girls. Rickie, Tabbie, and Xitali have all mentioned they were interested in becoming veterinarians. They asked Dr. M the veterinary surgeon sever al specific questions about her career and asked her for advice. Several girls asked Dr. B for advice on mathematics courses. Dr. G also received a wide variety of questions regarding her career as a chemical engineer; questions about her favorite projec t, her longest project, and her most difficult project. These were all examples of TDTs. Dr. K also received an interesting array of TDT questions regarding her practice as a clinical psychologist, such as questions about her daily routine, her patients, and dealing with difficult issues. Several questions were also asked about STEM interest and science identity. Numbers of mentors questioned To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process for the girls, I then examined of the numbe rs of mentors questioned by the girls. Denise, Jordan, and Mary posted questions for all six of the mentors. I was not surprised to see Denise and Jordan engaged with all of the mentors because they were the two girls who seemed to be the most involved in the OMC. They took the opportunity to post original questions for all the mentors. They also were two of the five girls who went to the Edmodo site from home. Mary also posted questions for all six of the mentors but several of her questions came off o f the list provided for her during meetings. She posted all of her questions during Einstein Girls meetings. Annie, Reddie, and Shammie posted questions for five of the six mentors. As discussed earlier, Shammie and Reddie posted similar questions for al l five mentors. However, Reddie asked a few other questions as well. Annie addressed five of the mentors but in most cases did not ask any questions but made general comments to the
169 mentors thanking them for participating in the project. An example of t his was when sic ] really adm ire what you do for ladies. thank [ sic May 8, 2013)! While these posts were complimentary to the mentors, neither contained a question or generated a significant discussion thread. The other gi rls posted questions for three or four of the mentors. This did not necessarily indicate that these girls were not interested in the online mentoring process. For example, Kim was interested in careers that involved technology and mathematics; this was c onfirmed in her interview. Rather than asking questions of all six mentors she focused most of her attention on Dr. B the mathematics teacher and Dr. G the chemical engineer. Her questions were direct and thorough, as demonstrated in the EDT showcased i n Chapter 5. Her direct line of questioning with Dr. G demonstrated her desire to understand more about semiconductors and how they were used in her technology devices. Similarly, her questioning of Dr. B regarding her upcoming Honors Algebra I course de monstrated that she seized the opportunity to get advice from a high school mathematics teacher who could help direct her mathematics trajectory through middle school and high school. Several girls only posted questions for one or two of the mentors. In m ost cases, it appeared that the girls were marginally engaged in the program. They participated in the mentoring process but did not take full advantage of the opportunity to communicate with STEM professionals. However, it appeared that two girls purpos efully chose to talk
170 with only one mentor. It appeared they did this because they were specifically interested in that one career. Tabbie was so focused on veterinary medicine that she only posted questions for Dr. M. Similarly, Kay expressed an interes t in becoming a physician, so she involved herself in an EDT as well as a TDT with Dr. P, the reproductive endocrinologist. Posted from school and home To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process for the girls, I finished by looking at which girls posted only at school and which girls posted from both school and home. The girls were given four weeks of Einstein Girls meetings to ask questions of the mentors and read the responses by the mentors. All of the girls except Georgia posted at least one question during the meetings. Since each girl had their own username a nd password, they could visit the Edmodo site outside of the classroom. They were reminded of this every week. Only five girls visited the site from off campus; they were Denise, Gail, Jordan, Kim, and Xitali. It was confirmed through interviews with De nise, Gail, Jordan, and Kim that these four girls were given permission from their parents to visit the Einstein Girls Edmodo site from off campus. I was not able to obtain that information from Xitali. I also wondered whether the other girls were permit ted by their parents to login from home. I concluded that these five girls appeared to have put the most effort into the OMC. I based my conclusion on the findings regarding the participation of the various Einstein Girls. It was apparent that some of th e girls were interested in participating in the OMC and others were not. The girls who seemed the most interested in the program and put the most effort into the program appeared to be the ones who received the most benefits from the program. Conversely, the girls who seemed the least
171 interested in the program and put the least amount of effort appeared to be the ones who received the least benefits from the program. Each Mentor Participated in Her Own Way Other findings related to the way in which the mentors participated in the OMC project. Each mentor volunteered her time and energy to the project and as such, was free to participate in the community in her own way. In the mentoring training document (see Appendix I) I asked that the mentors login a minimum of three times per week over the course of the four week project and answer questions addressed to them. They were free to decide when to login, how many times to login, and choose the manner in which they answered questio ns. In the same document it was suggested that the mentors ask the girls questions as well. Some mentors immersed themselves in the program right and answered many questions while others waited until the end of the first week or beginning of the second we ek to join in the discussion threads. To determine the participation of the mentors, I looked at their numbers of answers posted, the timing of their posts, and made other observations about their participation in the OMC. The findings from this portion of the research question are discussed in the following sections. Number of answers posted To better understand the nature of the online mentoring process for the mentors, I began with an examination of the numbers of posts made by the mentors. Each mentor posted a varying number of times on the Edmodo site. Dr. M, the veterinary surgeon, posted the most number of times at 27, followed closely by Dr. K, the clinical psychologist, who posted 25 times. Not surprisingly, these were the first two mentors to answer the initial question about their careers. Their posts appeared on the Edmodo
172 site before the first Einstein Girl Wednesday Week 1 session, giving the girls initial posts to rea d and questions to ask. Dr. K and Dr. M received more questions than the other mentors the first week. In fact, Dr. M received ten questions on the very first day of the project. Both of these mentors had 14 different girls ask them questions. Several of the girls were interested in the career of the veterinary surgeon. During the first week of the project, the girls posted 20 questions for her. Many of the questions were specifics about her job. Dr. M answered each and every question with a direct answer that was scientifically challenging and utilized terminology that was appropriate for the age group represented (10 12 year olds). It was apparent from the dates recorded in the Edmodo site that Dr. M visited the site and answered questions more fr equently than any of the other mentors. The mentors were asked to visit the site around noon. During the focus group interview she told me that she used some of her lu nch hours to answer questions. This likel y accounted for the timing and high number of posts. Dr. B, the high school mathematics teacher, had the third most posts at 17. Twelve different girls asked her questions. Gail, Jordan, and Kim, took the opportu nity to ask her questions about their mathematics courses. Gail even asked for advice on an upcoming test which she said helped her. During their interviews, Denise and Jordan said they read the advice given to Gail and that they used the advice on their mathematics tests; both reported the advice helped them on their tests. Dr. G, the chemical engineer and Dr. P, the reproductive endocrinologist, both posted 15 times to the Edmodo site and they both had ten different girls post questions for them.
173 The m entor with the least number of posts was Ms. N, the geotechnical engineer. She only posted to the site five times. During a review of her Protocol B transcript (for an example, see Appendix L), I noticed several interesting findings about her participati on in the OMC. She was the last mentor to answer the initial question and did not answer six of the questions posted by the girls. Her answers were thorough and to the point for the questions she did address. Rather than answering the last round of ques tions, she chose to address the girls addressed the girls with a final summary post. Timing of posts To further assess the nature of the online mentoring process, I looked at the timing of the posts by the mentors. This information was obtained from the Protocol A transcripts (for an example, see Appendix K). These tr anscripts were obtained directly from the Edmodo site and were arranged by date of post. The project lasted approximately four weeks and the weeks of the project ran from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. Dr. K and Dr. M were the first mentors to answer the initia l question about their careers, which were posted during the day on Wednesday (April 24, 2013) prior to the first Einstein Girls meeting. Dr. G posted her response the next morning (April 25, 2013), which made her initial post available for the Thursday g roup. Since Dr. K and Dr. M posted prior to the first Einstein Girls meeting, there were many questions posted by the girls on the first two days of the project. Dr. M answered 11 questions addressed to her by that afternoon (Thursday, April 25, 2013) an d answered three more questions by the next day (Friday, April 26, 2013). Conversely, even though Dr. K posted her initial question regarding her career on Wednesday (April 24, 2013) and received 12 follow up questions, she did not answer any of the quest ions until Thursday, May 2, 2013. Similarly, Dr. B did not answer the first five questions posted for her until Wednesday,
174 May 1, 2013. Since May 1, 2013 marked the beginning of Week 2 and I noted that Dr. B and Dr. K had a combined 17 unanswered questio ns, I made the decision to email all of the mentors with a gentle reminder to visit the Edmodo si te and answer their questions. Dr. G posted her initial response on the morning of Thursday, April 25, 2013, in time for the Thursday Einstein Girls meeting an d for any girl who chose to access the Edmodo site from outside of school. Greta asked Dr. G a question during the meeting and Jordan had logged in from home after school and asked three more questions. Dr. ng and answered the other t hree questions two days later. script, April 24, 2013). She posted this question on Wednesday evening, in time for the Thursday Einstein Girls group but too late for the Wednesday group. This posting confused several of the girls since Dr. P did not give any specifics about her job so they did not know what types of follow up questions to ask. Their response was to ask questions about medical school, her sources of inspiration, and her daily routine. They asked her 12 questions the first two days of the project. She responded by writ ing a lengthy answer that addressed their questions in one large post on April 29, 2013. She did this after I emailed her earlier that day reminding her to check the Edmodo site. Because of her busy schedule, she asked me to email her three times a week to remind her to visit the Edmodo site and answer questions.
175 Dr. B and Ms. N were the last mentors to answer the initial question, with Dr. B posting her answer on Friday, April 26, 2013, and Ms. N posting her answer on Monday, April 29, 2013. Both of the se posts were available on the Edmodo site prior to Week 2 of the project. Jordan and Kim posted follow up for Dr. B from outside of school asking her questions about her career as a mathematics teacher which she answered on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Denis response with follow up questions which she answered on Friday, May 3, 2013. She visited the site again on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 and answered a question and on Thursday, May 9, 2013 and answered another que stion. I emailed her one last time on Friday, May 17, 2013 asking her to respond to any unanswered questions. She did so with the final post that summarized her career pathway in a few sentences. The timing of the posts was interesting to me since each m entor participated in the OMC in her own way. Two of the mentors were able to post their initial responses prior to the Einstein Girls Wednesday meeting; two posted prior to the Thursday meeting, and the other two posted prior to the beginning of Week 2. For the girls who visited the Edmodo site from outside of school (Denise, Gail, Jordan, Kim, and Xitali), they were at an advantage since they were able to read the posts near to the time the posts went live on the site. The other girls had to wait for E instein Gir ls meetings to read the posts. Another interesting finding related to the number of days each mentor visited the site. I went back to the Pr otocol A transcripts and made a fascinating discovery. I had asked the mentors to visit the site three times a week over the course of four weeks to answer questions posted by the girls. This would mean that each mentor would have
176 visited the site on approximately 12 different days. What actually happened was very different. Four of the mentors (Dr. B, D r. G, Ms. N, and Dr. P) visited the site on five different days, and Dr. K visited on six different days. The only mentor who came close to the goal of 12 visits was Dr. M, who visited the site on 11 different days. As mentioned earlier, Dr. M said she o ften visited the site during her lunch breaks and was able to answer most of her questions in a timely fashion. This was significant for the EDTs with both Denise and Jordan who wanted to know more about pet shelters, pet hospitals, non profits, and volunt eer work. Because Dr. M, Denise, and Jordan visited the site more frequently than the others, they were able to carry on significant discussion threads among themselves. The conversations, though asynchronous, moved quickly between participants. The rap id pace of the discussions appeared to hold the interest of the girls for a longer period of time, which led to longer and more significant two way discussions. Other comments The mentors answered most of the posted questions. In general, they provid ed the girls with age appropriate answers. Some of the answers were short and concise while other answers were long and detailed. Some questions were grouped together and answered with one post (GTDTs) while other questions were answered individually (TD Ts). During the final week of the project, I noticed that there were several unanswered questions. Dr. B, Dr. K, Ms. N, and Dr. P had not answered one or more questions addressed to them. I emailed them and asked them to go back to the site one last tim e and address any unanswered questions, which they did. Only two of the mentors posted questions back for the girls. In the training document it was suggested that they reach out to the girls with questions of their own.
177 However, Dr. B and Dr. G were the only mentors to do so. Dr. B asked Greta a question which she read and subsequently answered. Dr. G asked Reddie a question, but Reddie never responded with an answer. This finding was helpful to inform future projects of a similar nature. Recommendat ions for future projects are discussed later in this chapter. Variety of Discussion Threads Harris (2011) described 12 types o f learning activities that focused on the primary communicative functions of mentors in K 12 online settings. The 12 activities were: advise/coach, assist, chat, co create, discuss/debate, impersonate, problem solve, provide feedback, question and answer, share information, supervise, and tutor (Harris, 2011). Her research related to the design of online mentoring opportunities for the K 12 classroom in a curriculum based setting, but the learning activities are applicable for an informal, out of school s etting such as the one used for this project. Of the 12 activities listed, four were present in the discussion threads contained in the Edmodo site. They were: question and answer, advise/coach, chat, and discuss/debate. Harris (2011) described question and Question and answer and advise/coach learning activities generally corresponded with the various types of terminal discussion threads that took place during the project (TDTs, GTDTs, and ATDTs). There were 81 separate and distinct discussion threads contained in the Edmodo s ite. These represented all of the interactions that took place between the Einstein Girls and the mentors. Of the 81 discussion threads, 72 (88.9 %) were terminal in nature (TDTs, GTDTs, or ATDTs). These types of threads tended to
178 be one way in nature, or what Dorner (2012) described as vertical questions seeking information. The girls asked questions and the mentors answered the questions. These questions usually related to the various codes presented in C hapter 5 In addition, some of the questions related to advice seeking by the girls. Advice from mentor was a code that emerged during the thematic analysis of the online transcripts and is also discussed later in this chapter. In most cases, no follow up questions were asked by the girls or the me ntors and no extended discussions were formed. This finding was important for several reasons. First, the finding indicated that the most of the girls used the OMC primarily to ask one directional questions of the various mentors. The question and answer threads were considered one directional because the questions appeared to be a one way mentor to student process, and occurred as TDTs. Almost 70 percent of the discussion threads were classified as TDTs. In these discussions a girl asked a question and the mentor answered the question; the girl did not ask any more questions about the topic. This was true for all of the questions regarding the codes mentor daily routine, mentor career selection, timing of STEM interest, source of STEM interest, and sci ence person. It was also true for most of the questions regarding the code mentor educational pathways and for some of the questions regarding the code specific questions for each mentor. These results indicated that while most of the girls took advantag e of the opportunity to talk to real scientists, they did not use the opportunity to deepen the discussions by asking follow up questions, or in other words to pursue two directional questions. There were 16 GTDs in the Edmodo site, which represented nearl y 20 percent of the discussion threads. I believe that there were two underlying reasons for the large
179 number of GTDs. Most of the questions were asked during Einstein Girls meetings and needed to be approved by me before posting to the site. Since some of the girls used the questions from the suggested list and since the approval process sometimes took several minutes, they may have been unaware that other girls were asking similar questions. In addition, each girl would have to scroll through most of the Edmodo site to see if anyone else had asked their question. Some of the girls spent time reading This was best evidenced in the string of questions posted late in the project by Beth. On May 17, 2013, Beth asked Dr. M several questions that had already been asked earlier in the project. Dr. M (Edmodo transcript, May 17, 2013) responded by saying, n answered the questions again for Beth. of discussions took place between the mentors and the girls during several of the discussion threads. The girls asked the kinds of questions that elicited personal stories from the mentors, such as the story shared by Dr. P (regarding her aunt who strugg led with infertility) or the story shared by Ms. N (her father took her to his construction sites), or the personal story shared by Dr. K (regarding birth order and sibling differences). Most of these discussion threads were terminal in nature and inheren tly one way in direction. However, chat type learning activities moved closer to being two way in direction, because of the personal nature of the comments. There were three ATDTs present in the Edmodo site. One was
180 described in Chapter 5 and took place between Mary, Dr. K, and Gail. Mary asked the initial question about how Dr. K reacted to the problems of her patients. Dr. K discussed the ways in which she tried to help her patients, and how her job was to rson and incorporate them into a treatment e between the three participants had the feel of being two and more comprehensive discussion. Dr. K (Edmodo transcript, May 9, 2013) replied to 7). Discussion threads th at included dialogue between girl and mentor participants tended to be more two way in nature, or what Dorner (2012) described as horizontal questions which started a discussion. Of the 81 discussion threads, nine of the discussion threads (11.1 %) w ere e xtended in nature (EDTs) These r epresent ed significant and longer discussions between girls and mentors. Gail, Greta, and Kim were involved in EDTs with Dr. B, Denise and Kim were involved in EDTs with Dr. G, Denise and Jordan were involved in EDTs with Dr. M, Jordan was involved in an EDT with Ms. N, and Kay was involved in an EDT with Dr. P. Denise, Jordan, and Kim were involved in ETDs with two separate mentors; the other three girls were involved with one mentor. In the discussion mentioned earlier in this chapter between Kim and Dr. G
181 (the chemical engineer), Kim wanted to know more about semiconductors. Dr. G answered with a detailed and age appropriate answer which prompted Kim to seek more clarity in her understanding. Dr. G responded with a l engthy answer that addressed all the parts of her questions. Denise, Jordan, and Dr. M were involved in an ATDT and two EDTs that occurred in two lengthy discussion threads. These discussions were presented in Chapter 5 under the sect ion Code 8 advice fr om mentors. I wondered why there were so few EDTs contained in the Edmodo site. First, I considered the ages of the girls; they ranged in ages from ten to 12. Perhaps it was somewhat unreasonable on my part to expect young girls of these ages to have the maturity to carry on lengthy discussions with women they did not know. The girls who did participate in the EDTs were in the fifth grade (Gail and Jordan) and the sixth grade (Denise, Greta, Kay, and Kim). Four of these girls (Denise, Gail, Jordan, and Kim) were the girls who seemed most involved in the OMC, as pr eviously discussed, so it was reasonable that these girls were the ones who participated in ETDs. I also considered the training received by the mentors. I looked back over their training docum ent (see Appendix I) in which I recommended that the mentors asked the girls questions in addition to answering their questions. Only two mentors asked one question each during the entire project. I wondered if more ETDs would have taken place if the men tors had been given more guidance on ways to develop two way discussion threads. I could have encouraged the mentors to ask the girls questions and encouraged the girls to involve themselves in longer discussion threads as well. A
182 discussion whether the mentoring process was one way or two way in d irection appears later in C hapter 6 Thematic Analysis The th ematic analysis of the codes derived from transcriptions of the Edmodo site yielded several interesting findings. The discussions of the findings are presented in the following sections: the a priori codebook, career exploration, STEM interest, science id entity, and other comments. The a priori codebook The original a priori codebook contained 14 codes, including eight codes relating to career exploration, three codes relating to STEM interest, and three codes relating to science identity. After reading t hrough the transcripts and coding them in the manner described in Chapter 4, there were several changes made to the codebook. Since I perspectives, I noted the emergence of unexpect ed codes as well as the absence of several anticipated codes. It was imperative to have the codebook accurately represent the mentoring process since the codes formed the assumptions that framed my analysis (MacQueen et al., 1998). Using the CCM (Corbin & Strauss, 2008), I noted that two significant codes emerged from the data, the codes of collaboration with peers and advice from mentors. Collaboration with peers. The code of collaboration with peers was significant rspectives regarding their careers. It was interesting to note that several of the mentors talked about the importance of working with fellow STEM professionals in their careers. For example, Dr. G the chemical engineer spoke on six different occasions a bout how important it was in her career to collaborate with
183 co days or weeks, and WORK WITH MY CO WORKERS to find a solution, then I usually come up with a new idea to t ideas that make our project better than if we had worked alone. And these scientists are from arou out through these and other direct examples ways in which the mentors worked with others in their jobs. I felt it was important for the girls to understand the concept of collaborati on even at their young ages. Through the mentors they saw that scientists rarely work alone and gained insights into the importance of teamwork and collaboration in real world STEM environments. Advice from mentors. Another code that emerged from the dat a was advice from mentors. I expected that the mentoring site would contain many question and answer threads regarding the constructs of career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity. This did take place, and the questions were thoughtfully ans wered by the mentors. However, several girls took the opportunity to ask the mentors advice about their careers or topics relating to their careers. Advise/coach (from the mentor perspective) and advice seeking (from the mentee perspective) are learning activities that relate to what participants do when engaged i n online mentoring (Harris, 201 1 ). Some of the advice seeking discussion threads were highlighted in Chapter 5. I thought it significant that Gail asked Dr. B for advice on test taking strategi es. Gail (Edmodo
184 know the right answer. check your wo rk, but do not B, Edmodo transcript, May 14, 2013). Gail (Edmodo transcript, May 15, 2013) was grateful for the advice and told Dr. found it helpful as well. Jordan (personal interview, May 20. 2013) said the advice I t was also noteworthy that Jordan and Kim sought advice from Dr. B about their upcoming mathematics courses. In addition, Mary (Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013) frac will your interest in the topic. Math can be fun! The best way to get better is to p ractice, important for Mary who was an aspiring soccer player. Dr. M shared specific ways in which girls could meet their goals in becoming
185 (Xitali, Edmodo transcript, May 8, 2013). Xitali not only was seeking advice on getting a job as a veterinarian, but demonstrated an understanding of veterinary medicine as a business as well as a j ob in which one works with animals. She was also direct in indicated that Xitali felt a level of comfort with the mentors and was not afraid to ask questions that were impo rtant to her. Educational pathways. Just as some codes emerged, other codes became obsolete. Some of the anticipated codes did not appear in the Edmodo transcripts and were either deleted or merged with existing codes. Prior to beginning the project, I and high school STEM related experiences. The literature reviewed in Chapter 2 pointed to late elementary, middle school, and high school as the times to inspire an e arly interest for girls in STEM. As I continued to use the CCM (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) to analyze the data, I noted that no questions were asked of the mentors about pre college STEM experiences, with the exception of girls asking Dr. B for advice on wha t mathematics courses to pursue. However, a few mentors mentioned their pre May 1, not focused on the pre college experiences of the mentors, they were interested in the
186 middle school coursework, high school coursework, and college coursework, and combined all three codes into a new merged code known as educational pathways. Final a priori codebook. The final a priori codebook also contained 14 codes. The final eight career exploration codes included mentor collaboration and mentor advice, and replaced the codes mi ddle school coursework, high school coursework, and college coursework with educational pathways. The three STEM interest codes and the three science identity codes remained the same. The final cod ebook is listed in Appendix A. Career exploration The thematic analysis of the codes that pertained to career explora tion revealed several interesting findings. The first finding was that the girls posted more questions about career exploration than on STEM interest and science identity combined. The girls were interested in the STEM careers represented and took advant age of the opportunity to talk with real STEM professionals about what they did in their careers. Not surprisingly, the largest number of questions related to the code of specific questions for mentors. This code was defined as a specific detail or aspec t of the out what the mentors did in their jobs they possessed the initial informat ion that prompted them to ask the various specific questions about their jobs. Many of the specific question a nd answer threads were discuss ed in Chapter 5, and in most cases were terminal or one way in nature. The girls were also interested in the reason All six mentors were asked by the girls why they chose their particular careers. Several
187 of the answers were highlighted in Chapter 5. I felt these were significant question and answer threads for the girls. The gir ls were able to learn from the mentors the stories behind their career choices. For example, Ms. N talked about visiting construction sites with her father as a child. Ms. N recognized that those visits helped encourage her to become a geotechnical engin eer. Dr. P was motivated to become a reproductive infertility. Dr. M said she was inspired by the James Herriot novel series during her childhood. I wondered if these s tories had the potential to inspire any of the girls. Halpern et al. (2007) noted that woman role models may serve as inspirations for girls to persist in their STEM interest. Tabbie (personal interview, May 28, 2013) said she was able to figure out why wanted to know where the me ntors went to college, how long the mentors were in college, and what the mentors liked about college. I wondered why the girls asked questions about college and not about high school or middle school. I looked at our school community to find some possib le explanations. Our school is a tight knit, college preparatory, PK 12 independent school. There are many opportunities for the students in each division to interact with students in other divisions. Students in fifth and sixth grade often networked wi th high school students in academic, athletic, and artistic settings and several of the girls had older siblings. The girls were aware of the college selection processes and pressures facing the older students, and were also
188 aware that many of our student s pursue STEM professions in college. In addition, a significant number of parents in the school community are STEM professionals. Ten of the 20 Einstein Girls participants have one or two parents who are STEM professionals. These girls were likely awar e of the educational pathways of their mothers and fathers and were possibly more able to articulate questions for the mentors regarding their own educational pathways. Perhaps these factors influenced the girls to only ask questions llege experiences. It was interesting that several girls wanted to know about the opportunities as well as the challenges associated with the various careers of the mentors. The code mentor career satisfaction appeared 27 times in the data and the code me ntor career challenges also appeared 27 times in the data. The girls wanted to know if the mentors were happy in their careers, and asked specific questions about their career satisfaction. The mentors talked with the girls about their sources of satisfa ction and shared many examples. Several of these discussion threads were presented in Chapter 5, but there were some other interesting comments shared by the mentors. Dr. p in 2013)! She also mentioned her love for working with microscopes. She shared an amusing story about working with the transmission electron microscope (TEM). She said the microscope was very sensitive and was stored in a building next to the co
189 6, 2013)! Ms. N shared a source of satisfaction in her career. She told the girls that she 2013). She also encouraged the girls to learn about the way businesses work beca use that could potentially help them in their own STEM endeavors. significant for the Einstein Girls. The stories were fun and exciting, and provided the girls with examples of STEM women who were successful and satisfied in their careers. succeeded in STEM fie lds may serve as role models that inspire girls to persist in their studies in STEM. When girls hear about the positive aspects of STEM careers, they may be encouraged to work hard and pursue a STEM career. The mentors shared many examples of challenges th ey faced in their careers as well. Several of these were highlighted in Chapter 5. One of the more interesting comments came from Dr. G. Jordan asked her if any of her projects failed. Dr. G ineering and science research is mostly about failure. Every researcher tries a bunch of things that fail before a very important lesson that needed to be conveyed to the girls. Halpern et al. (2007) recommended female role models who have achieved in STEM can teach girls about the challenges they may face as they aspire to become STEM professionals. They
190 ruggle and eventual takes hard work and that self doubts are a normal part of the process of becoming STEM intere st. The thematic analysis of the three codes that pertained to STEM interest revealed several interesting findings. First, all of the mentors were able to identify the timing of their initial interest in STEM. Two of the mentors (Dr. K and Ms. N) said th ey were always interested in some aspect of STEM. Many of the Einstein Girls indicated that they too were always interested in science. For example, Tabbie (personal Tabbie was able to read the responses by Dr. K and Ms. N and realize that she had something in common with two professional scientists. Dr. M and Dr. P indicated that they became interested in STEM at approximately the same age as the Einstein Girls. Dr B and Dr. G both mentioned the middle school years as the defining time for their initial interest in STEM. All of the Einstein Girls were able to read the responses by these four mentors and realize that they had early interest in STEM in c ommon with S TEM professionals. The mentors articulate d who they attributed with initiating their interest in STEM. Using the Maltese and Tai (2010) coding categories of self, family, or school based, the sources of interest were identified for the mentors. Two mento rs (Dr. B and Dr. G) mentioned school activities or a teacher who helped them make the connection with science. As discussed in Chapter 2, schooling experiences for girls can have both positive and negative influences on their interest in STEM. Ms. N tal ked about the great
191 influence of her father on her decision to become a geotechnical engineer, and Dr. P mentioned the struggles of her aunt as the decisive factor for her career choice. Maltese and Tai (2010) discussed sources of intrinsic science self i nterest in terms of activities (such as playing with toys or blocks and taking things apart) and curiosity about the world and how things worked. Dr. K mentioned that she knew from an early age that she was interested in the types of factors (i.e. behavio rs, birth order, and differences between siblings) that led her to become a clinical psychologist. Dr. M talked about books and volunteering at vet hospitals as a girl. Finally, the mentors were able to articulate the nature of their interest in STEM. Us ing the Maltese and Tai (2010) coding categories of intrinsic interest, education based themes, or cannot identify, the nature of science interest was identified for the mentors. The mentors mentioned many subjects or experiences that promoted their inter est in science or STEM. For some of the mentors, it was difficult to identify a single experience. Several mentioned being involved in activities that encouraged their interest in science, such as a book, a science museum, a construction site, or volunte ering. Others mentioned a teacher, a dissection, an experiment, a lecture, a family member, or a friend as the catalyst for interest in STEM. Many of these activities were outlined by the N RC (2009) as activities that occur outside of the classroom in no n school settings. Dr. G talked about how the challenge of figuring out complex
192 13, 2013). Science identity The thematic analysis of the three codes that pertained to science identity also revealed several interesting findings. Science identity was discussed in Chapter 2, and according to Farland Smith (2009) means that someone recognizes themselves as a science person and is seen that way by others as well. Five o f the six mentors mentioned that they saw themselves as a science person. All seven girls interviewed mentioned that they saw themselves as a science person as well. Tan and Calabrese Barton (2007) said that identity construction requires the participati on with others of similar background since identity is socially constructed. By participating together in the OMC, the Einstein Girls were able to learn about science identities from the mentors and receive help and encouragement regarding their own scien ce identities. The mentors also discussed ways in which they were attracted to science, or were shaped by their surroundings. These examples were shared in Chapter 5. Other comments The conversations between the various girls and mentors were impressive. The quality of the questions written by the girls surprised me. The questions were thoughtful, probing, and genuine. In retrospect, it seemed reasonable that their questions were high quality in nature since these girls voluntarily chose to be a part o f the Einstein Girls program as well as the OMC. Equally impressive was the quality of questions with straight forward answers and age appropriate vocabulary. They usua lly
193 addressed the girls by name which made it easier for the girls to find their answers in the Edmodo site. Mentoring has been shown to have a positive impact on female students and help improve their attitudes towards science (Weber, 2011). Others (Blak e Beard et al., 2011; Burgstahler, 2006; Farland Smith, 2009; Hill et al., 2010; and Wasburn & Miller, 2004) concurred, suggesting that mentoring programs can help girls develop an interest in STEM and help them persist in their studies of STEM. Mentoring programs, such as 2007, p. 21). The girls were able to read about the six m sources of STEM interest, and science identities through the OMC. By reading their posts and considering their responses, the girls found role models and sources of inspiration for their own STEM pathways. Discussion of RQ 2 constraints surrounding online mentoring ? This research question was designed to determine the perceptions of the Einstein Girls and female STEM mentors of the opportunities afforded by the OMC as well as the constraints posed by the community. To answer the question, seven Einstein Girls were purposefully selected and interviewed after the project was completed. A focus group interview was also conduct ed with the six mentors after the the focus group interview transcript. An analysis of the transcripts revealed their perceptions of the opportunities and the constra ints surrounding online mentoring.
194 Perceived Opp ortunities The following discussions relate to the perceived opportunities surround the online mentoring community from the perspectives of the Einst ein Girls and the female STEM mentors. The opportunities of both groups are presented in the sections belo w. The Einstein girls Seven of the 20 Einstein Girls were selected and interviewed to determine their perceptions of the opportunities afforded by the OMC. While their answers varied, there were several common themes among their answers. All seven of the girls said they enjoyed the online format of the community and that it was easy for them to use. They also said they were happy that the site was safe and secure. Kim said it appealed to her since it looked and appeared similar to Facebook. These resul (2011) comments about social networking in educational settings. She said that etworking. It appeared that the girls enjoyed the opportunity to navigate in an online social networking site separate from a traditional school setting; they enjoyed the social side of the communication process. The girls also enjoyed the asynchronous na ture of the OMC. During traditional mentoring, girls and mentors would have to schedule a time to meet together as well as a place in which to meet; these logistics may be challenging and costly. Using an online mentoring format alleviated these challeng es. Penny and Bolton (2010) said that online and time efficient, allowing for maximum exchange of information in a minimal amount of time (Penny & Bolton, 2010, p. 19). The girls mentioned that they appreciated finding quick an swers for their questions. This
195 encouraged them to ask more questions or in some cases seek clarification of answers. Five of the girls visited the Edmodo site from off campus. They were able to access the information more quickly than the girls who wai ted for after school meetings to read their answers. The online format also facilitated discussions between girls and mentors who did not know each other. F2F mentoring may involve some barriers of age, gender, race, or status, which might negatively affe ct the relationships between the participants (Penny & Bolton, 2010). Gail, Georgia, and Tabbie mentioned that they felt a little shy or intimidated to speak with adults who were STEM professionals. They were grateful for the anonymity afforded by the on line nature of the community, which allowed them to overcome these barriers. Several girls even mentioned that the mentors made them feel comfortable and at ease. Denise discussed that Dr. P led the girls in conversations 2013). This comment reminded me of two of the learning activities associated with online mentoring discussed by Harris (2011). In a chat learning activity, mentors often share personal stories and informa tion about themselves. Denise felt that Dr. P was talking with her as a friend rather than as a stranger and was willing to share personal stories from her own life. In a discuss/debate learning activity, a dialog takes place between mentor and student ( discussion with Dr. P that was two way in nature rather than one way in nature. The group dynamics of a community also came into play, where the girls could navigate throughout the site and read the discussion threads posted by all of the
196 participants. Since there were 20 girls asking questions and six mentors answering questions, there were always topics and themes to explore. Some of the girls mentioned that they enjoyed reading the discussions between other girls and the mentors. They felt they learned a great deal from the discussions and were inspired to ask more questions themselves. The girls enjoyed the oppo rtunities to speak with real STEM professionals. They enjoyed hearing about how the careers of the various women and were interested in finding out how and why they chose their professions. They valued the opportunity to ask specific questions about the by the mentors. They appreciated the fact that they could choose which mentors to question and which careers to explore. They could talk with all of the mentors or none of the mentors; there was no pr essure from me as the Einstein Girls director, from the mentors, or from their peers. Several girls mentioned that they were inspired by the STEM women and all seven of them said that their senses of STEM interest and science identity increased to some ex tent. Almost all of the girls interviewed mentioned that they enjoyed the program and found it to be interesting to them. Several of the girls asked me to continue the OMC program during the next school year. The girls all rated the program highly, with ratings of 10 out of 10, nine out of 10, and 105 out of 100. The mentors The six mentors participated in a focus group designed to determine their perceptions of the opportunities afforded by the OMC. Three of the mentors participated in person. The oth er three mentors sent in their answers prior to the focus group and their answers were included in the transcript. While their answers varied,
197 there were several common themes among their answers. In addition, they pointed out some of the same positive f eatures cited by the girls. Five of the mentors mentioned the ease and the convenience of the Edmodo site as a positive feature. The asynchronous nature of the program worked well for their busy schedules as mothers and as professionals. Penny and Bolton (2010) said that 19). The mentors were willing to help but were careful not to overextend their schedules. They also indicated that the program and their commitment to the program was the right length of time. The mentors also appreciated the anonymous nature of the OMC for the girls as well as for themselves. Dr. P wondered if the girls felt more comfortable asking questions via an online mentoring format than they would have in a traditional mentoring setting. Dr. K, as a clinical psychologist, was keenly aware of the benefits of using an online format. She felt the discussions were less threatening online and that the girls were more comfortable and not afraid of speaking with the mentors through the Internet. The barriers that Penny and Bolton (2010) discussed were eliminated by using the online format. The mentors felt the pr ogram was beneficial to the Einstein Girls and were grateful for the opportunity to encourage girls in STEM. Dr. B was happy to be able to work with girls who were interested in pursuing STEM careers. Ms. N thought it was important for the girls to have a place in which they could ask questions about the various fields in STEM and mentioned that she often sought out opportunities to work
198 with and mentor girls. Halpern et al. (2007) formulated specific recommendations that may be used to encourage girls i n the STEM fields. One of their recommendations was to expose girls to female role models who are successful STEM professionals. The mentors recognized the importance of their participation in the project since they knew they were serving as role models for the Einstein Girls. Finally, two mentors spoke about their personal satisfaction with the program. Ms. N (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) said she appreciated the opportunity to be do well and succeed mentors rated the OMC as superior, an 8.5 out of 10, a 9.8 out of 10, and a 10. Perceived Constraints The fol lowing discussions relate to the perceived constraints posed by the online mentoring community from the perspectives of the Einstein Girls and the female STEM mentors. The opportunities of both groups are presented in the sections below. The Einstein Girl s The Einstein Girls had definite opinions about the constraints posed by the OMC. Pam felt that the project had a life cycle and that it had been reached by the end of the four weeks. I agreed with her and noted that the mentors said that four weeks was the perfect length of time for the program to last. At the beginning of the program, it was not too difficult to navigate through the Edmodo site. However, as the project moved into Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4, the site became increasingly large and more difficult to manage. By the time the program was over, there were 245 posts contained in the
199 Edmodo site. It became difficult for individual girls to locate the answers to their s had scroll through many pages of text. For some girls, that became too difficult and they simply quit trying. That was one of the problems I noted with the site. Another problem related to the way the questions and answers were ordered. Every post wa s listed by date, so in many cases the questions and answers did not match up on the site. The participants had to read through many posts to find the ones meant for them. Some of the girls mentioned wanting more time to navigate the site. Denise recomme nded more Einstein Girls meeting times devoted to the OMC. However, she was one of the girls who posted from outside of school. If she felt she needed more time, I wondered about the other girls who did not access the site from off campus. The girls had different opinions about the numbers and types of mentors included in the OMC. Some girls wished for more mentors while others thought the number of mentors was correct. Some girls were interested in all of the careers represented by the mentors while o thers only gravitated towards mentors that represented their perceived interests. This may have affected their engagement with the program. Jordan person who makes the Dr. G five questions. It was important that the community included several mentors representing a variety of STEM careers. What was interesting to one girl was not necessarily interesti ng to another girl, so the key was to give the girls a choice. The mentors The mentors also talked about what they saw as constraints posed by the community. An area of concern for the mentors was in the presentation of their careers.
200 Dr. G felt the site limited her ability to adequately explain what she did as a chemical engineer. She would have preferred creating a video presentation for her postings in which she showed the girls a periodic table of the elements to facilitate her discussion about semic onductors. Dr. G, Dr. M, and Dr. P mentioned that there were several duplicate questions on the site. They suggested that the girls divide the questions among themselves to alleviate that problem. Dr. B (focus group interview, May 30, 2013) suggested tha t the questions to which they want responses, then divide those questions up amongst minute video to introduce themselves to the mentees and provide a brief over view of their career. They w ondered if these videos could be embedded in the Edmodo site. Dr. G made an interesting comment during the focus group interview. She felt that the girls may have been more interested in careers in which they had more familiarity. For example, she believ ed the girl s knew what a veterinarian did for a job and noted that they asked her many questions She wondered if the girls found it easier to ask the veterinary surgeon questions than some of the other mentors. In addition, she noted that the veterinary surgeon was listed first on the Edmodo site and wondered
201 if an engineers would have received more questions if she were listed first In retrospect, it might have been a worthy idea to present the mentors in a different order. Emerging Questions Two questions emerged as a result of this study. The first question related to the actual mentoring process: Was the process one way or two way in nature? The second question related to the presence of a sense of community: Was a sense of community devel oped among the participants? The following sections explore the two emerging questions in more detail. Th e section is followed by discussions of the implications of the study and recommendations for future research. Was Mentoring a One Way or Two W ay P rocess? f mentoring in an ISL incorporates social constructivist methods as students construct their knowledge and scaffold personal meanings through social interactions with their mentors (Penny & Bolton, 2010). The relationships between the mentors and the Eins tein Girls provided the social interactions and the scaffolding of the learning environment. A study of the discussion threads contained in the Edmodo site shed light on the mentoring process. Most of the discussions were question and answer discussions w hich were vertical in nature (Dorner, 2012; Harris, 2011), and included the TDTs, GTDTs, and ATDTs. These types of discussions were inherently one way in direction, a mentor to student process. The girls chose to use the OMC in these examples as a venue to seek information from the mentors about their careers, STEM interest, and science identity. However, several of the discussion threads were more personal in nature or were extended in length. These discussions were inherently two way in
202 direction, whe re students constructed their knowledge by scaffolding personal meanings through social interactions with the mentors. My conclusion is that the mentoring process was both a one way and a two way process; with aspects of both processes contained in the Edm odo site transcripts I asked several of the participants their thoughts regarding the mentoring process to test my conclusion. Jordan said she felt the mentoring process was two way since the some cases asked follow up questions. Gail also felt the process was two way but was not able to articulate the reasons for her answer. Kim had an interesting insight into the mentoring process; she said it depended on the discussion. She said the ment oring process was one way when the thread consisted of a question and answer. Kim was involved in several of these threads, the ones labeled TDTs, GTDTs, or ATDTs. However, she felt the mentoring process was two way when she had an actual discussion with a mentor. way and two way. I also asked four of the mentors for their thoughts on the mentori ng process. Dr. M said the process was two way. She felt since she was able questions and comments, she gained insight into what interested them about her career and what was important to them. She was able to tailor her answers to focus on the y from their co nversations. Dr. M said a one way process would be more like a lecture and said for her, this was not the case. She concluded by saying the two way process was important to both the student and
203 the mentor since the student got her questions answered and the mentor was able to speak to the issues that mattered to the student. Dr. P said the process way two way since s he was able to learn about the interests of the girls and how they approached a topic. Dr. B also felt the process was two way since it allo wed for o pen dialogue between the girl s and the mentors via the Edmodo site. Not only were the girl s able to ask questions, but the mentors were able to ask questions of the girl s to seek further clarification on their STEM aspirations and fears about sub ject matter. I went back to Dr. comments. While she only asked one distinct question, she did probe more deeply into thei r fears a bout subject matter. However, t his only happened when she and the student were involved in an EDT. The only mentor with an opposing po int of view was Dr. K. She said the mentoring process appeared to be a one way mentor to student process. This was no s urprise since she was involved in 20 TDTs, one ATDT, and no ETDs. She did not participate in any extended discussions with the girls and she did not ask any follow up questions in her responses. However, she did offer a suggestion for a more interactive paradigm. She suggested the girls schedule a time with a mentor for an online chat. During this time the girl and the mentor could carry on significant discussions about STEM careers or oth er areas of interest. She said this design would better represe nt a two way mentoring process as opposed to a one way process. She also felt the girls would enjoy the design and leave the community with a stronger attachment and sense of identity with the mentor.
204 Was a Sense of Community Formed? A learning community is comprised of a group of learners who work together, build relationships, and construct knowledge (Gunawardena et al., 2009; Land et al., 2012). The focus for the OMC was to support the participants in the active construction of meaning by connecting students online with mentors. Palloff and Pratt (1999) said ttention needs to be paid to the developing sense of community within the group of participants in order for the learning process to be common. The girls were able to learn from the mentors and in many cases be inspired by their stories. The mentors were able to share their stories with the girls and influenced them in positive ways. The Einstein Girls was a learning community before beginning the project and an onl ine learning commu nity during the pr oject However, I wondered if the mentors felt that they were a part of the community as well The concept of community was discussed during the focus group. Dr. K felt that a sense of community was formed during the project. Dr. M felt a sense of community was formed between the girls and the mentors but not among the mentors. Most of the mentors did not know one another and met for the first time during the focus group. The mentors made several suggestions designe d to develop a greater sense of community. Dr. P suggested the group meet F2F near the end of the project so the participants would have known each other. Some of the other suggestions were discussed earlier in this chapter. During the project, Dr. P t ook seven of the Einstein Girls and me to [university] College of Medicine for a field trip. Dr. G and Dr. M offered to take the girls on field trips to their places of
205 professional practice as well. They felt trips with the mentors to real world scienti fic laboratories would help build a sense of community among the participants. Finally, I wondered if a community of practice formed among the participants. was used si multaneously by Brown and Duguid (1991) and traced back to work by others (Constant, 1987 ; Orr, 1990 ). A community of practice is defined as a community whose members share their practice with one another and is situated in authentic contexts that is loca ted between individuals and their cultures ( Barab & Duffy, 2012; Hoadley, 2012). Lave and Wenger (1991) defined a community of practice as the description of the process of knowledge creation, application, and duplication. They noted that the central and defining phenomenon of the community was the act of joining and identifying with the community (Hoadley, 2012). The OMC as it existed virtually between the Einstein Girls and female STEM mentors may have taken on some of the features of a community of pra ctice, based on the notion that learning is a cooperative process between the members, their actions, and the world (Luppicini, 2003). Further research would be required to explore this notion in more depth. Summary Through the course of this project I was able to determine the nature of the online mentoring process by studying various aspects of the online mentoring community. I was also abl e to determine the participants after interviewing key students and mentors that participated in the program. Chapter 6 presented a discussion of the results of the project. Chapter 7 will present the implicat ions of this pr oject and suggestions for future research.
206 CHAPTER 7 IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Implic ations for Action Online mentoring communitie s are important in a variety of settings, since the 2002, p. 220). These pr ograms introduce new possibilities for professional practice (Harris, 2011) and offer the potential for connecting groups of individuals across many settings. While the online community described in this stud y matched pre adolescent girls with female STEM mento rs, students from other demographic groups could potentially be matched with mentors who are experts in diff erent di sciplines. E xamples of successful ISL based mentoring groups for girls are listed in Appendix B. Online mentoring program 3, The Electronic Emissary Project is the longest running curriculum based online mentoring program for K 12 stu dents and their teachers (Harris, 2011). The EEP has sponsored and facilitated approximat ely 800 online mentoring pro gram s over the past 20 years and has connected students, teachers, and experts in the areas of science, literature, writing, history, soci ology, computer science, politics, and the arts (Harris, et al., 1996; Harris, 2011) In addition to these pro ject s online mentoring communities have also been set up to help minority, disabled, urban, and rural disadvantaged students in K 12 settings (P enny & Bolton, 2010). Similar initiative s could connect low socioeconomic status (SES) and middle SES students with STEM mentors in online communities similar to the one described in this project.
207 Online mentoring communities could be formed connecting m any types of participants For example, at risk youths could be connected with mentors who will serve as role models for them. Students who are home schooled or home bound could be matched with subject area experts to supplement their academic experiences. Students interested in business could be matched with mentors from the business world and students with political ambitions could be matched with mentors from the public service sector. Students interested in the arts could be matched with professional ar tists, musicians, or actors and aspiring athletes could be matched with p rofessionals from their sport. Any combination of p articipants is possible. Transferability of Research The findings from this study have direct implications in the design and operation of future online mentoring programs. Linc oln and Guba (1985) proposed the four criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability to insure the rigor and trustworthiness of research. Transferability refers to the application of the findings of one study to other contexts outside of the study. This project was designed to determine the nature of the online mentoring process with special focus on career exploration, STEM interest, and science identity. The project also identified the ties afforded by the community as well as the constraints posed by the community. The research represented by this study was practitioner research with my work connecting theory with practice. The knowledge gained through the intentional reflection on and study of the Einstein Girls OMC was useful in the production of knowledge that is transformative for my own professional practice and transferable to other similar settings. The results of this study are most applicable to online mentoring programs wi th similar contexts and demographics, but
208 are also applicable to other online mentoring settings such as the ones p roposed at the beginning of Chapter 7 The l essons learned from this study will guide the design and implementation of future online mento ring communities. Components of an OMC In Chapter 7 I will provide designers and directors of online mentoring communities my perspective on how to successfully b uild and operate a community to support STEM or other initiative. I ser ved as designer and implementer for this project. My perspective is based on reflections about my work throughout the project and design nsidered why I built the online mentoring community the way I did, and whether there might have been more effective design or implementation options. The following sections describe necessary components for the design and operation of an OMC and present my recommendations for the components based on what I learned from this research study. The components relate best to an OMC situated in either a K 12 curriculum setting or an informal extracurricular setting. The components include, but are not limited to, the design of the community, goals and time frame for the commu nity, the online delivery system for the community, the choice of the participants, the preparation of the participants, the role of the facilitator, and methods for assessment of the community. Design of the community Several factors need to be considered when attempting to create an online mentoring community. Harris (2011) described the design process for K 12 curriculum based online mentoring as a series of steps. First, she recommended that the designer carefully choose their learning goals. The goa ls for the community should be clearly articulated before designing and implementing an OMC project. Next, the designer
209 estions will guide the design and sequence of learning activities that form the OMC. Who will be the student participants? Will there be training for the student participants? If so, h ow will the student participants be trained? Will the community be a part o f a classroom curriculum or will the community be a part of an extracurricular activity? Will the student participants be given time during class to participate in the OMC or are the students be expected to participate on their own time? What will be the online delivery system? Who will be the mentors and how many mentors should be selected? What mentoring model will be used: one to one, group, team, or peer (NMP, 2005)? What are the expectations for the mentors? Will there be training for the mentors ? If so, how will the mentors be trained? Do all the participants have reliable and secure Internet access? How long will the community operate? The designer sh ould select th e tools a nd resources that from the learning e mentoring is to be used in a K 12 classroom setting, assessments would be chosen that whether or not the OMC is attaining the learning goals set forth by the designer. Evidence based reflections on what was learned from each OMC trial would be useful Selecting the online delivery system The designer of an OMC nee ds to carefully consider which online delivery system would best facilitate the project. A platform should be selected that enables the community to utilize communication tools allow ing for participation of all member s.
210 Communication through an online me ntoring community is generally asynchronous and text based, with participants spread out geographically (Harris et al., 1996). Therefore, the OMC relies on interaction strategies among members to create the maximum benefit. The selection of the best onli ne delivery system is critical ensuring the community build s itself up through interactions and communications among members (Frady, 2012). Several programs are well suited to host an online mentori ng community. T here are dozens of open source community based online social networks available free of charge for educators interested in setting up an OMC. For this project, Edmodo was chosen as the online mentoring delivery system. Edmodo is a free social networking program created for educational purposes. The program provides a safe and secure online platform that can be used in school and other settings to connect communities of individuals for sharing ideas and collaboration (Anderson, 2010) In addition, Edmodo ha s a simple and intuitive interface tha t offers the participants an easily managed environment. As owner of the Einstein Girls group I had complete control o f the site and could enroll participants, assign usernames and passwords, moderate all posts, and shut down the site if necessary. What ever online delivery is chosen, the designer should spend time learning the features of the program prior to the launch of a mentoring project Selecting the student participants The community designer needs to consider the recruitment of student participa nts. The students may be part of a K 12 classroom, a virtual learning program, an after school academy, a summer camp, or other similar group The student participants may be teacher selected, school selected, parent selected, or self selected
211 The stu dents sho uld be willing to participate in an online mentori ng program. They will also require reliable and secure access to the Internet, whether at school, at home, or at a meeting place. The student parti cipants for my project were part of the Einstein Girls after school academy A ll g irls expressed a desire to be a part of the online mentoring program. Preparing the student participants Prior to beginning an online mentoring program, some form of student participant training needs to take place. S pend time teaching the students how to use the online delivery system that is chosen to host the p rogram. For my project, I spen t Einstein Girls academy time demonstrating the proper use of the Edmodo site and allowed time for the girls to practice creating posts and respondin enabled the girls to become famili ar with the features of the online program and become comfortable with the workings of the site These pra ctice session posts were deleted from Edmodo prior to the official launch of the m entoring project. Anothe r part of preparing the student s involve s teaching them how to become active participants in the community. Student to mentor and student to student interactions are important for the success of an online community (S wan, 2002 ). L ead a discussion with the student participants on the community nature of an onli ne mentoring program. E ncourage the students to make a plan for their communications with the mentors, including suggesting topics and potential questions for the mentor s. For my project, I gave the student participants some suggested questions designed to initiate conversations (see Appendix J). These suggestions were designed to begin discussions and to help keep conversations flowing ; the girls were free to ask their own questions as well
212 T alk with student participants about types of questions they can a sk and present them with the online mentoring learning activities discussed by Harris (2011). Learning a ctivities include: question and answer, advice/coach, chat, a nd discuss/debate (Harris, 2011). The first three types of activities tend to be one way in nature, with the student asking a question and the mentor answering a question. Students wanting to receive specific information from mentors could follow the que stion and answer format, where Students seeking advice from mentors could utilize the advise/coach format, where dents progress with their project stories, information about themselves and their familie their profes (Harris, 2011, p. 7) E ncourage student participants to consider pursuing two way relationships with the mentors developing deeper, m ore mea ningful discussions Student s will benefit from two way online mentoring relationship s (Penny & Bolton, 2010) E ncourage students to become involved in other student/mentor discussions and carry on discussions with each other. Select ing the mentors The designer/implementer of the OMC will need to decide on which mentors to include in the program. T his is one of the most critical steps for the success of project. I selected mentors that I knew and trusted who were members of the scho ol community. These women were asked to lead the Einstein Girls in meaningful discussions regarding STEM and to serve as supportive, caring role models. Careful decisions need to be
213 made regarding which mentors to select Mentors should be chosen who are experts or h ave careers in area s that relate to the focus of the OMC. In addition, per sonal qualities or features may make certain mentors well suited for a project, such as gender, ethnicity, SES, career area, job experience, level of education, or geographical location. Mentors must be willing to commit the time and effort to make the project a success for the sake of the stude nt participants. Above all the mentors must be willing to take on the responsibility of being quality role models and ex amples for the students. Preparing the mentors T he mentors shoul d receive some sort of training information p rior to beginning an online mentoring p rogram mentors automatically know how to mentor students; Harris et al., 1996, p. 7) may arise unexpectedly. M entors who do not have teaching experience should receive training and suggestions for working with student participants (Harris et al., 1996). The training include s tion about and suggestions for working with et al., 1996, p. 7). E ncourage mentors to based and student centered 1996, p. 6) M entor s should listen to the questions and respond with answers that are thoughtful and m eaningful to the girls. R esponses may initiate additio nal questions from students lead ing to longer and meaningful two way discussions between participants It is optimal to have the mentors first meet F2F for a training session. During this time, show the mentors how to use the online delivery system and lead a discussion on how to effectively serve as a mentor. If a F2F meeting is not an option, consider a virtual meeti ng or series of telephone calls. Training may also be accomplished through
214 written documents and email communications. The mentors for my project were trained in this way. I sent out several email communications prior to beginning the program. I also e mailed a mentor training document (see Appendix I) created from the synthesis and adaptation of several mentor training documents (Cravens, 2000; MMP, 2013). The training document described the role and commitment of t he mentor. The mentors serve d as supp ortive and caring adult supervisors for girls who demonstrated an interest in STEM. I requested they visit the online site at least three times a week during the four week project. They were asked to answer questions posted by the girls about their STEM careers, interest, and identity. I also encouraged them to ask the girls and each other questions as well, with the goal of creating a community among the participants. T he mentors accomplished several of the goals for the community but also fell short in a few areas The mentors were supportive and caring adults for the girls and answered most of the questions posted by the girls. However, they did not visit the site as frequently as requested and were not involved in many longer, more meaningful discus sions. In retrospect, if I were to repeat this project I would change th e mentor training component. A F2F training session would take place before beginning the project. The mentors would be encouraged to ask more questions creat ing significant two wa y conversations with the girls and that students who reported high levels of interaction with their instructors reported higher levels of satisfaction in their courses. Similarly, the girls who demonstrated the h ighest levels of interaction with the mentors (Denise, Gail, Jordan, and Kim) expressed the highest levels of satisfaction with the OMC.
215 The role of the facilitat or A crucial component of the online mentoring program is t hat of the facilitator. In m ost ca ses the designer of the community will function as its facilitator, since the designer/facilitator has a deep understanding of and connection to the community. The ). It is the job of the facilitator to organize the community and to promote interactions among the members (Frady, 2012). He or she may also be viewed as a manager of the community, using management techniques to engage the members, reach out to new mem bers, and encourage members to become more involved (Frady, 2012). The facilitator pays attention to what is taking place in the group and works to move the group in the desired direction. Harris (2011) described some of the more specific functions of a f acilitator who works in a curriculum based online mentoring project. Several of the functions are applicable for this dis cussion. The facilitator set s up th e online platform, test s, and resolve s any technical or se curity issues (Harris, 2011) The facil itator teach es the members how to use the online p latform. The facilitator ensure s the community i s operating according to the articulated goals for the community. T he facilitator communicate s off site with mentors to offer assistance and guidance if nee ded regarding their mentoring. Finally the facilitator work s to keep the communication moving throughout the project, starting discussions, guiding discussions, and encouraging participation (Harris, 2011) I designed, implemented, and directed the Einste in Girls OM C, acting as the principal investigator for the project. To ensure transferability of research, I chose the role of participant observer of the community rather than embedding myself in the
216 community as the facilitator. In this way I was able to observe the community and determine the nature of the online mentoring process without inserting myself directly into the workings of the community. The Einstein Girls after school academy will continue as a part of my p rofessional practice and new onli ne mentoring programs are being planned. Along with designing and implementing the program I will take the role of facilitator for the next project I have several recommendations for anyone planni ng on facilitating their own online mentoring community First, help the student participants plan their communications before they compose messages for the mentors. C reate a li st of questions for the student s that relate to the focus of the group ; this will help them begin conversations with the mentors Nex t e (Harris et al., 1996, p. 5). This could be accomplished via email for the mentors and during F2F time with students If a question went unanswe red or if a discussion thread had the potential to evolve into a meaningful two way conversation, reach out to the participants and encourage them to expand the discussion. Harr is et al. (1996) found that exchanges perceived to be most successful by community member d l encourage such personal connections between participants by modeling self disclosure in his or her own posts as well as through encouragement of individual participants
217 Again, this may be accomplish ed by via email, t he onl ine site, or personal F2F encouragement. In the Eins tein Girls community discussions regarding STEM interest and science identit y have the potential to become personal for t hose involved in the interactions The f acilitator should share comment s about these topics encourag ing me ntors to discuss their own thoughts and stories as well. E ncourage the mentors to talk with each other about their STEM interes ts and science identities. By doing so, they may create more personal connections with the girls and further the development of community. Evaluating the community An evaluation should take place to assess the effectiveness of th e OMC after the program ends. An e valuation will help stakeholde rs determine whether the pro gram has met its goals whether to continue the program, modify the program, extend the program, or terminate t he program. P lan the a ssessment activities prior to the launch of the project. On a micro level, consider observing t he frequencies of participation, individual approaches to the community, and types of interactions that occur in the OMC. These were some of the factors I studied during this project. On a macro level, consider studying the topics discussed by the partic ipants to determine if the discussions met of the goals of the community. Conduct interviews and/or focus groups with the participants to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the program. I conducted a focus group with the mentors and interviewed se lected Einstein Girls for this project (see Appendix C and Appendix D). An overarching view of the community at all levels from the perspective of all participants will help stakeholders make an ac curate evaluation of the initiative
218 For a longer term eva lu ation of the community, f ollow up with the student participants who were mentored to determine how participation in the project affected them over time. This may be di fficult to accomplish if stakeholders are not able to remain in contact with the parti cipants. A longitudina l study of the student participants and their career choices would be important; t his data would provide significant information on the long term success of the program. Suggestions for New Research During the time I was involved in this study, several questions came to mind. I wondered if the outcomes would have changed had I used a different number of mentors or used mentors from different fields. What if I presented the mentors in a different order? What if I had used a combination of male and female mentors instead expanded my thinking and asked what if I had matched high school girls or college aged women with female STEM mentors? Would they ask different types of questions? Would they be interested in other topics, such as balancing family and career? Future stud ies involving online mentoring sh ould be designed for different settings A review of existing literatu re sh ould be completed to find and examin e the research that has been collected regarding online m entoring. I nstructional design of communities sho uld be considered making recommendations for design of future projects. Case study research sh ould be conducted focus ing on a un it of study such as existing community The conversations contained in an OMC could be studied through a content analysis or the stories contained in the conversations could be studied through qualitative narrative research. Different groups of mentors and protgs could be matched and studied through a variety of methods. P rogram evaluation research
219 sh ould also be used to assess the effectiveness of an existing OMC and help stakeholders determine whether to continue, modify, extend, or terminate a program. Finall y, a longitudinal study that observed developmental trends over time could follow participants of OMCs and study the long term effects of membership in the program. Concluding Thoughts Online mentoring has the potential to support the growth of indivi dual students. There are options and iterations available for online mentoring communities that were not explored in this study. Some of these were mentioned earlier in Chapt er 7 The purpose of this project was to design, implement, and study an online mentor ing community that connected fifth and sixth grade girls interested in science with six female STEM mentors The project was designed to give girls the opportunity to communicate in a safe and secure online platform with women who were successful STEM pro fessionals. The community provided the girls a venue to ask the women questions about their careers, their interests, and their science identities. Through this venue the girls were able t o explore the careers of a chemical engineer, a clinical psycholog ist, a geotechnical engineer, a high school mathematics teacher, a reproductive endocrinologist, and a veterinary surgeon. Findings revealed that the participants approached the community uniquely and explored many aspects of the themes of the project T he participants also identified what they perceived as the opportunities afforded by the community as well as the constraints posed by the community. Several girls said their STEM interest and science identity increased because of the program. Several al so said they were inspired by the mentors, and indicated plans on pursuing related career s in the future. This initiative is significant in
220 that it identifies a concrete and research based strategy designed to encourage girls in STEM. I am a practitioner scholar, and the practitioner research represented by this project will be used to transform my own professional practice and perhaps the lives of many girls. A structure is now set in place to facilitate a new Einstein Girls online mentoring community This community will link Einstein Girls and female STEM mentors with several girls from a local, low SES charter school located less than two miles from my place of practice. By connecting theory with practice, knowledge was generated from this project th at is valid and useful. The findings from this study are transferable and have direct implications in the design and operation of future online mentoring programs.
221 APPENDIX A A PRIORI CODEBOOK FOR RQ 1 CAREER EXPLORATION Code Description Citations S pecific questions for mentors A specific detail or aspect of the Penny & Bolton, 2010 Mentor daily routine to day tasks in job Penny & Bolton, 2010 Mentor career choice Reason(s) mentor chose her particular career AAUW, 2004; Koenig & Hanson, 2008; NRC, 2009 Mentor career satisfaction Source(s) of satisfaction for the mentor in her career Sohn, 2011 Mentor career challenges Source(s) of chal lenge for the mentor in her career Farland Smith, 2009; Halpern et al., 2007 Mentor educational pathway What courses mentor took in high school, college, and professional school Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; NRC, 2011b; Sjaastad, 2012 Collabor ation with STEM peers Ways in which the mentor works with other STEM professionals in her career AAUW, 2004; Halpern et al., 2007 Advice from mentors Girls ask for advice or mentors give unsolicited advice Blake Beard et al., 2011; Halpern et al., 2007, N SF, 2010; Weber, 2011 STEM INTEREST Code Description Citations Timing When were you first interested in science? Halpern et al., 2007; Hill et al., 2010; Lindahl, 2007; Maltese & Tai, 2010; NAS, 2012 Source What was the initial source of your interest in science? Jones et al., 2000; Maltese & Tai, 2010 Nature What was the nature of your initial interest in science? Jones et al., 2000; Maltese & Tai, 2010 SCIENCE IDENTITY Code Description Citations Does the person see themselves as Archer et al., 2010a; Brickhouse et al., 2000; Brotman & Moore, 2008; Farland Smith, 2009; Tan & Barton, 2007 Attracted to science Is the person attracted to science? Kahle, 1990 Shaped by surroundings Has the person been sh aped by their surroundings to have a science identity? Brickhouse et al, 2000; Carlone, 2004; Jones et al., 2000; Kahle & Lakes, 1983; Tan & Barton, 2007
222 APPENDIX B LIST OF SUCCESSFUL ISL Program Name and Website Scope Format Inquiry Based Explore Careers Long Term Interest aspire2inspire www.women.nasa.gov/a2i National Online X X Engineer Girl www.engineergirl.org National Online X X The GEMS Club http://www.gemsclub.org/index.ht ml National F2F X X Girlstart www.girlstart.org Nati onal Online X X Girls at the Center www.fi.edu/tfi/programs/gac.html Local F2F, Online X X Great Science for Girls www.greatscienceforgirls.org/ National Online X X X National Girls Collaborative Project www.ngcproject.org Nationa l Online X X X Sally Ride Science www.sallyridescience.com National Online X X X SciGirls http://pbskids.org/scigirls/ National Online X X X Techbridge www.techbridgegirls.org Local, National F2F Online X X X www.iwaswondering.org National Online X X
223 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR G IRLS Semi Structured Interview Questions for the Girls 1. Did you enjoy being a part of the online mentoring program? Why or why not? 2. What careers were you the most interested in? Why? 3. What careers did you learn about from the mentors? 4. Tell me something you learned from one of those mentors. 5. What careers were you the least interested in? Why? 6. Did meeting with the mentor cause you to consider studying their field in STEM? 7. Did you learn anything new from the mentors? If so, what did you learn? 8. Did the me ntors share anything that helped you with your science interest? If so, what? 9. Did the mentors share anything that helped you with your science identity? If so, what? 10. Did you feel comfortable talking with the mentors? Why or why not? 11. What did you like be st about the online mentoring program? 12. What did you not like about the online mentoring program? 13. What do you think we should change or do differently next year? 14. Did the online mentoring program run as you thought it would? Why or why not? 15. How would you r ate the online mentoring program?
224 APPENDIX D FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS FOR MENTORS Focus Group Questions for the Adult Mentors 1. Did you enjoy being a part of the online mentoring program? Why or why not? 2. Did you learn anything new about STEM careers from one or more of the other mentors? If so, what? 3. Did you learn anything new about science or STEM interest from one or more of the other mentors? If so, what? 4. Did you learn anything new about science or STEM interest from one or more of the other students? If so, what? 5. Did you learn anything new about science identity from one or more of the other mentors? If so, what? 6. Did you learn anything new about science identity from one or more of the other students? If so, what? 7. Did you feel comfortable talking w ith the students? Why or why not? 8. Did the online mentoring program run as you thought it would? Why or why not? 9. What do you think were the strengths of the online mentoring program? 10. What do you think could be improved in the online mentoring program? 11. Can you think of anything we should change or do differently next year? 12. How would you rate the online mentoring program?
225 APPENDIX E PARENT INTRODUCTION LETTER TO STUDY
226 APPENDIX F PAR ENTAL CONSENT FORM
227 APPENDIX G MINOR ASSENT SCRIPT
228 APPENDIX H PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM
229 APPENDIX I MENTOR TRAINING DOCUMENT Dear Female STEM Mentor, As a mentor online you will work to be a supportive and caring adult advisor to fifth and sixth grade girls who have demonstrated an interest in science or STEM. The Einstein Girls Online Mentoring Community has been set up to help supp ort the goals of the Einstein Girls program. The goals include: Providing an opportunity for girls to explore STEM careers Providing STEM role models for girls ask questions about their interest in science and science identity To form an online mentoring community between the girls and the female STEM mentors Other outcomes I hope to achieve are increasing interest in STEM, increasing science identity, and learni ng about STEM careers from you. The girls will go to the Edmodo site each Wednesday (14 girl group) and Thursday (6 girl group) during four weeks in April and May. I have encouraged them to go to the Edmodo site frequently from home as well. They will st art new conversations with you from school and hopefully at home. I have given them the starting questions but anticipate they will come up with more questions on their own. Conversations will center on learning more about your career, your college schoo ling, and your pre college courses. In graduate school, and in your career. For the first week, I will post the initial question to you about your career what is your career and what do you do in that career. Please try to answer this question prior to the Wednesday meeting. Here is a table that describes wh at will happen the first week: Week 1 Mentors Einstein Girls Monday Answer initial questions about careers Wednesday after school Read answers and ask additional questions about careers Wednesday evening Answer additional questions about careers Th ursday after school Read answers and ask any additional questions about careers Friday evening Answer any additional questions about careers After Week 1, you can visit the Edmodo site whenever your schedule permits and answer any questions that are s ent to you. You can also ask questions of the girls, of each other, or of me. I am hoping to I hope that each of you can visit the site at least three times a week to communicate with the girls over the course of the four week period. These exchanges are the core of the mentoring community and are the priority of the program. Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you! Jill
230 APPENDIX J LIST OF SUGGESTED QUESTIONS Questions for Einstein Girls to ask Female STEM Mentors Career Exploration 1. What is your career and what do you do in your career? 2. Where did you go to college and how many years did you go to college? 3. What was your field of study in college? What was it like to study your field in college? 4. What k inds of courses did you take in middle school and high school to prepare you for your career? 5. Do you like your career? Why or why not? 6. What were some of the reasons you decided to pursue your career? 7. When did you first decide to pursue your career? 8. What are some ways I can prepare myself for a career like yours? Interest in STEM 1. When did you first become interested in science? 2. What was the source of your interest in science? 3. What is the nature of your experience in science? 4. What kinds of science activit ies did you do outside of school? 5. How did you stay interested in science during the middle school and high school years? Identity in Science 1. 2. What are some of the reasons you were attracted to sci ence? 3. 4. 5. What should I do to remain a
231 APPENDIX K PROTOCOL A TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE Dr. M, Protocol A Dear Dr. M, Welcome to the Einstein Girls Online Mentoring Community. We would like to ask you this question: "What is your career and what do you do in your career?" April 23, 2013 Dr. M I am a veterinary surgeon. This m eans that after veterinary school, I spent 4 years training specifically in surgery. I now work in a "referral practice" which means that all the vets there are either specialists or training to become specialists. My area is soft tissue surgery, which mea ns that I deal with patients that have surgical diseases that involve any part of the body except bones, joints, spinal cord or brain. Our patients are mainly dogs and cats but we do occasionally see more exotic animals from area parks. My day is spent ass essing patients, talking to owners and the general vets that refer them, performing surgery and training our interns and residents....lots to do! Apr 24, 2013 Mary Does it make you sad to perform surgery on animals? Apr 24, 2013 Rickie What was the most unusual animal that you have done surgery on? Apr 24, 2013 Jordan What is your favorite animal? Apr 24, 2013 Mary Ann What type of exotic animals. Apr 24, 2013 R ickie Has an animal that you have done surgery on ever bitten you? Apr 24, 2013 Gail Dr. M, Wow! I love animals. Why did you decide to do this job? You mentioned both exotic patients and house pets. Which do you work with more? Abigail Apr 24, 2013 Rickie I love animals, and I would like to work with them when I grow up. Do you have any advice you could give me? Apr 24, 2013 Rickie How long have you been a veterinary surgeon? Apr 24, 2013 Reddie Where did you go to college an d veterinary school? Apr 24, 2013 Dr. M. I sometimes feel sad when a cherished pet is very ill and there is little I can do for them, but I do not feel sad in the operating room...there is a job to do and one cannot be overly emotional about it. Apr 24, 2013
232 APPENDIX L PROTOCOL B TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE Dr M Protocol B (1) Dear Dr. M Welcome to the Einstein Girls Online Mentoring Community. We would like to ask you this question: "Wh at is your career and what do you do in your career?" April 23, 2013 Dr. M I am a veterinary surgeon. This means that after veterinary school, I spent 4 years training specifically in s urgery. I now work in a "referral practice" which means that all the vets there are either specialists or training to become specialists. My area is soft tissue surgery, which means that I deal with patients that have surgical diseases that involve any par t of the body except bones, joints, spinal cord or brain. Our patients are mainly dogs and cats but we do occasionally see more exotic animals from area parks. My day is spent assessing patients, talking to owners and the general vets that refer them, perf orming surgery and training our interns and residents....lots to do! Apr 24, 2013 (2) Mary Does it make you sad to perform surgery on animals? Apr 24, 2013 Dr. M. I sometimes feel sad when a cherished pet is very ill and there is little I can do for them, but I do not feel sad in the operating room...there is a job to do and one cannot be overly emotional about it. Apr 24, 2013 (3) Rickie What was the most unusual animal that you have done surgery on? Apr 24, 2013 Jordan What i s your favorite animal? Apr 24, 2013 Jordan What was your favorite animal to work with. What was the strangest? Apr 25, 2013 Mary Ann What type of exotic animals. Apr 24, 2013 Gail What is your favorite type of animal, land, sky, or water, in the whole world? May 15, 2013 Dr. M. My favorite animals to work with are sweet dogs & cats. I guess the strangest was a crocodile she was egg bound & needed a C section! That was interesting! I've done procedures on a Florida panther & a mandrill from [animal park] & various other things. Apr 25, 2013
233 APPENDIX M PROTOCOL C TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE
234 APPENDIX N PROTOCOL D TRANSCRIPT SAMPLE
235 APPENDIX O CODED THEME SAMPLE Researcher Name: Jill Scott Topic: Nature of Online Mentoring Pro cess Einstein Girls Online Mentoring Community Data collected online from Edmodo Data Collection Dates: 4/23/13 to 5/22/13 Coding Completion Date: 6/25/13 Protocol Code A Priori Code Recorded in Protocol P/PG/LN P=Protocol Num ber; PG=Page; LN=Line 1 1/2/26 30 Pre Algebra is a great prep course for Algebra 1. The concepts are the same, just a higher level of complexity. Because of the multiple levels of students I teach in one class, my teaching methods are quite differentiated I use a lot of technology to deliver instruction to ensure that I keep the kids engaged. 2 1/3/41 45 Teaching Algebra I have not experienced not knowing the topic, however I have learned through the yrs multiple ways to present problem solving on the s ame topic. If my students do not understand one method, I try to show them multiple options and give them the choice of which method they prefer to use to answer questions. 3 1/4/43 44 Instructional placement is based on the needs of the school as well as the teachers qualified to teach that subject. 4 2/1/21 31 My specialty is in Semiconductors. These materials are used to make computer chips and laser devices used in such products as computers (duh), cell phones, cars, Xbox, Playstations, DVD players a nd stuff for outer space. Right now I use computer simulations to try out new ways to make these chips and also figure out why they sometimes fail when they are used. I used to work at a man ufacturing plant here in [city] that made all these chips. That was really fun. The plant was open every day of the year except Christmas, 24 hours a day. On Christmas Day, the employees still worked, but they used the day to shut down the equipment and clean it. 5 2/2/38 46, 3/1 What was your most favorite project yo u've ever worked on? Jordan, my favorite project was my job as a product engineer at Agere Systems. I loved that job because I ended up learning everything about making computer chips from start to finish. I worked with the customer in the beginning to find out what kind of chip they needed. Once we had an order for a company that was $25 million dollars! I was involved with ordering the initial materials, then I was responsible for tracking the chips as they went through the 200 steps or more to complet ion. I even was responsible for figuring out what went wrong with a chip if the customer sent it back because it didn't work!
236 APPENDIX P RQ 1 THEMATIC MAP Researcher: Jill Scott RQ 1: What is the Nature of the Online Mentoring Process with Special Foc us on STEM Career, Interest, and Identity? Career Exploration Career Details Career Defined Mentor Daily Routine Specific Questions for Each Mentor Veterinary Surgeon Clinical Psychologist Chemical Engineer High School Mathematics Teach er Reproductive Endocrinologist Geotechnical Engineer Other Information Regarding Career Mentor Career Choice Satisfaction Challenges Collaboration with STEM Peers Mentor Educational Pathway High School College Graduate Sch ool Advice from Mentors STEM Interest Timing of Interest Always K 5 6 8 9 12 College Source of Interest School Family Self Nature of Interest Intrinsic Education Based Themes Cannot Define Sci. ID Science Person See Self a s a Science Person? Attracted to Science When? Why Shaped by Surroundings When? Why
237 APPENDIX Q RQ 2 CONCEPT MAP Researcher: Jill Scott RQ 2 : opportunities and constraints surrounding online ment oring? Perceived Opportunities Einstein Girls Edmodo site operation Impressions of mentors Exploring STEM careers Increase in STEM interest Increase in science identity Personal satisfaction with program Mentors Features of the Edmodo s ite Benefits to students Opportunity to motivate girls in STEM Personal satisfaction with program Perceived Constraints Einstein Girls Increasing size of Edmodo site Life span of project Change number of mentors? Change types of mentors? Mentors Uncertain of role prior to program Order of presentation of mentors Uncertain of how to talk with girls Limited tools for communication Rating of OMC Einstein Girls Various number ratings Mentors Various number ratings
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253 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jill Rice Scott has been a science teacher for 30 years. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in public and private schools in the United States. For the past 22 years she has directed a science laboratory for students in grades Pre Kindergarten through Six at Lake Highland Preparatory School. She is also the Coordinator of Science Education, the Science Subject Coordinator, and a Faculty Leader at the school. She is the creative force behind the Einstein Girls program and continues to inspire fifth and sixth grade girls in STEM. Jill received her Ed.D. from the University of Florida in Curriculum and Instruction in 2013 and her Ed.S. from the University of Florida in 2008 She also ho lds degrees in Zoology and Science Education from the University of Florida. In 1999, Jill received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from the President of the United States.