The cognitive and attitudinal effects of a precollege intervention program for enhancement in science, mathematics, and engineering

Mireles, Hilda Nellie, 1955-
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Many factors affect and perpetuate the underrepresentation of minorities and females in science, mathematics, and engineering (SME) programs of study and careers, but the ones with greatest impact exist within the nation's educational system. Many students are underserved and underprepared educationally through the public schools. Additionally, assessment practices established by institutions of higher education (IHEs) can be a barrier to access into SME programs and careers Attempts have been undertaken to refine the academic skills and knowledge of underrepresented groups (e.g., academic intervention programs for enhancement) in order to encourage participation in SME studies and careers. This investigation focused on: (1) the impact of an intervention program on the cognitive performance of its participants on an achievement-type instrument, and (2) comparing attitudes of PIPE (Precollege Intervention Program for Enrichment) participants and non-participant peers toward SME careers. Using selected items from the mathematics and science subsections of three norm-referenced achievement tests, a new instrument was developed to examine the cognitive effects of the intervention program on rising ninth grade, First-Year PIPE participants. Items from a normed questionnaire and additional researcher-generated statements were used to produce a 5-point Likert-type questionnaire to examine the interests and attitudes of the sample toward careers in SME. First-Year, first time PIPE participants, were selected from five schools in an urban area near the Mexican border. The sample used was a sample of convenience to whom the instruments identified previously were administered. Results of a t-test analysis on each of the sections of TEST A revealed that PIPE participants performed better than did non-participant academic peers. A t-test analysis was used on the unidimensional scale extracted from TEST B to detect a difference in attitude held or adopted by students toward careers in SME. This PIPE model, as implemented, has significant positive effects on the cognitive performance of its participants compared to their nonparticipant peers. There were no significant differences observed between groups on attitude toward SME careers, nor was there a difference detected according to self-reported English-Spanish bilinguality