Stem Curriculum Challenges Within Oklahoma 4-H: A Delphi Study
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Scientific literacy is essential for the success of youth in the 21st century (National Science Board, 2018). Employers are searching for scientifically literate individuals to fill the STEM employment pipeline, which is growing at a faster rate than any other (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2017). A renewed focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) occurred in formal education in the mid-1990s (National Academy of Science, 1996). Non-formal educational organizations are providing an avenue to expand this knowledge and peak science interest (Kahler & Valentine, 2011; Kisiel, 2006). A non-formal organization, the 4-H program, recognized the importance of educating youth to be science-minded (National 4-H Council, 2018b; Noyce Foundation, 2013) As STEM programs are becoming more prevalent within 4-H, it was essential to address challenges Extension educators and 4-H volunteers face when teaching STEM curriculum. The Delphi technique was utilized to collect the opinions of a geographically dispersed group of 4-H Extension educators and volunteers. Each group served on a separate panel and were asked the question, "What challenges do you face when teaching STEM curriculum?" After three rounds of study, both the educator and volunteer panels identified two challenges faced when teaching STEM curriculum. Through identification of these challenges, Oklahoma state 4-H staff can better address the professional development needs of educators and volunteers within the organization, and support the desired scientific literacy outcomes of 4-H youth.
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