Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Keith Miller, PhD


Charles Granger, PhD

Carl Bassi, PhD

Helene Sherman, EdD


The nature of future employment is rooted in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Educating the current and future workers will require the inclusion of STEM education, especially in the K-12 classrooms. African Americans run the risk of being left behind in future STEM jobs due to their poor STEM representation throughout institutional education. In general, African American students have a poor attitude towards and poor academic performance in STEM. This research was explored using ubiquitous smartphones and a unique form of student-centered learning called maker education to increase the attitude and STEM knowledge of African American middle schoolers. A mixed method approach was utilized through a pre- post- questionnaire, comprised of three Likert-type scales for Attitude: Interest, Difficulty, and Importance, and a knowledge base multiple-choice portion to investigate the study quantitatively, supplemented by direct observation and focus groups to investigate it qualitatively. Twenty-nine African American students from four St. Louis, Mo., middle schools were divided into two groups, one of 24 treatment and one of five control participants. The research setting for both groups was a local Boys and Girls club. The treatment group completed two maker-ed interventions with smartphones, while the control participants completed two similar interventions without smartphones or maker activities (see Appendix F). The qualitative data were thematically coded, and the quantitative data were statistically analyzed for significance. The knowledge base of both the treatment and control groups showed no statistically significant difference, either before or after the interventions, which supported the null hypothesis H1o. The Likert-scales suggested a slight increase in African American middle schoolers' attitudes in both treatment and control groups, but it was not statistically significant, supporting null hypothesis H2o. The thematic analysis of the observation and focus group data was logically inconsistent with the Likert-scales data in that it suggested a strong increase in attitude in both groups. More research is warranted in this area to increase African Americans in STEM.