Dailey, Daisy Renee (2016-12). An Analysis of Informal, Marine-oriented Programs for Underserved Students of the Texas Gulf Coast: Strategies for Improving Educational STEM Opportunities. Doctoral Dissertation.
Research shows that a high percentage of science organizations in the United States offer programs specifically designed for K-12 students and teachers. These programs include, but are not limited to supplementary classroom experiences and science learning opportunities in the form of afterschool, summer, and weekend programs for underserved populations. Successful formal-informal collaborations allow participants to explore and understand a vast range of science topics. Successful community partnerships amongst informal educators themselves allow for improved resources for formal educators. In this study, I examined the informal marine education programs in the Texas Gulf Coast region and explored the practices they offer in STEM fields. I used a convergent parallel mixed methods design that involved both qualitative and quantitative data collection phases to determine the level and the value of the STEM opportunities provided by the informal marine education programs. I interviewed five participants from five informal marine education programs in the Texas Gulf Coast region and asked them their opinions and views of STEM education quality and accessibility of their informal marine education program. Twenty two participants completed a survey designed to explore participants' perceptions about the quality of STEM education in informal marine education programs serving the Texas Gulf Coast. Findings indicate that while there is success in providing meaningful STEM opportunities, barriers exist in making programs financially accessible.