Replicating or franchising a STEM afterschool program model: core elements of programmatic integrity

Nikolaus Stevenson, Amie S. Sommers, Neal Grandgenett, William Tapprich, Julia McQuillan, Michelle Phillips, Rachael Jensen, Christine Cutucache
2022 International Journal of STEM Education  
Background Designed in 2012 with a first implementation in 2013, NE STEM 4U is a professional development program for post-secondary students/undergraduates, and serves as a source of outreach, content knowledge generation, and STEM literacy for youth in grades kindergarten through 8th grade (ages 5–14). The model empowers post-secondary students as facilitators of inquiry-based learning within the context of an out-of-school time program. This study investigated the potential for replicating
more » ... 'franchising' this model by evaluating on the following: (1) Is the model replicable? And, if so, (2) what core elements are necessary for program fidelity? And (3) is there a dependency on a particular setting/participant type (e.g., a more rural or urban setting)? Results Strategic expansion of the program to different institutional types (i.e., Research 1, Research II, and a predominantly undergraduate institution), different geographical locations (i.e., rural and urban), and with various school district partners (i.e., large and small) determined that program fidelity and replicability required 4 core elements or criteria: (i) intentional programming, (ii) staff quality, (iii) effective partnerships, and (iv) program evaluation and continuous improvement. Importantly, we examined emergent themes by each site, as well as in combination (n = 16 focus group participants, n = 12 reflection surveys). These data indicated that Flexibility (21.22%), Student Engagement (i.e., Youth) (19.53%), Classroom Management (i.e., also pertaining to youth) (19.31%), and Communication (15.71%) were the themes most referenced by the post-secondary student mentors in the NE STEM 4U program, regardless of site. Finally, the YPQA results demonstrate general replication of program quality in a "franchise" location. Conclusions These results highlight the core elements of the NE STEM 4U program for consideration of expansion (through strategic replication or 'franchising') as a possible international model. The findings and voices highlight the program's trajectory toward success into environments that expand professional development for post-secondary students, and for delivering STEM opportunities for youth.
doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00320-0 pmid:35106273 pmcid:PMC8795932 fatcat:7gdp7r7lt5emzi6oxpcjtjdmb4