Graduate Program

Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2021

Thesis Director

Sham'ah Md-Yunus

Thesis Committee Member

Patricia J. Fewell

Thesis Committee Member

Mikki Sherwood


STEM has become a growing topic in recent years. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There is a strong emphasis on improving and expanding STEM education to meet the demands of our STEM-focused society. To fill this need afterschool programs have emerged as key partners in STEM education to provide inspirational STEM enrichment opportunities. The study aims to explore if STEM activities narrow the achievement gap of participants from low socio-economic status (SES) in East Central Illinois. The study used a grade level ready framework to define the concept of narrowing the achievement gap and lowering the percentage of participants not meeting standards. Participants of the study were 12 kindergartens through second graders at a YMCA in East Central Illinois. The study utilized mixed methods using a convergent mixed-method design and was conducted for eight weeks. The quantitative results revealed that 11 out of 12 participants answered at least 1 more question correctly. Four of the 12 participants had a growth of 50% or greater. On the pre-test 6 of the 12 participants scored less than 70%. On the post-test, all participants scored at least a 70%. The qualitative results show four themes with the completion of the activity had the highest frequency, followed by answering questions and interacting with classmates. Taking leadership was the lowest frequency.