Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Helene Sherman


Charles Granger

Keith Miller


Middle school is a transitional period in which many students experience content-specific teachers, travel between classrooms, and explore extracurricular activity options for the first time. Historically, African American middle school students have not fared well in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) on standardized assessments, performing significantly below their Caucasian counterparts in mathematics and science. From the beginning of their academic careers, a lack of access to quality teachers, excessive use of direct instruction strategies, and a lack of resources in their school communities, contribute to their overall apathy towards the subject matter and factor into their underperformance. As a result, fewer African Americans pursue STEM studies in secondary education resulting in underrepresentation in STEM-related professions.

To stimulate African American students’ interest in the field, the approach to STEM instruction requires alternative strategies. Some students who do not effectively demonstrate and communicate their understanding of mathematics or science principles using traditional equations instead show a clearer expression of knowledge through alternative, more artistic media. The extent of the effectiveness in implementing a design thinking and arts integrated project-based learning activity (DAIP) to increase African American students’ interest and achievement in STEM subjects was explored.