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Geek As a Constructed Identity and a Crucial Component of Stem Persistence

Description: The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have long been the bastions of the white male elite. Recently, academia has begun to recognize gender and ethnic disparities. In an effort to expand the recruitment pool for these STEM fields in college, various efforts have been employed nationally at the secondary level. In California, the latest of these efforts is referred to as Linked Learning, a pedagogy that combines college preparation with career preparation. The current study is investigating the connection between what has been referred to in current scholarship as "Geeking Out" with higher academic performance. The phenomenon of “Geeking Out” includes a variety of non-school related activities that range from participating in robotics competitions to a simple game of Dungeons & Dragons. The current project investigates the relationship between long term success in STEM fields and current informal behaviors of secondary students. This particular circumstance where Linked Learning happens to combine with "Geeking Out" is successful due to the associated inclusionary environment. Methods included a yearlong ethnographic study of the Center for Advanced Research and Technology, a Central Valley school with a diverse student body. Through participant observation and interviews, the main goal of this research is to examine the circumstances that influence the effectiveness found in the environment of the Center for Advanced Research and Technology.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Liggett, Joshua B.
Partner: UNT Libraries