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MAN UP: Implementing Critical Pedagogy for Social Justice in a STEM-Focused 6th-8th grade After School Program for African American Males

  • Author(s): Sims, Jeremiah James
  • Advisor(s): Mahiri, Jabari
  • et al.
Abstract

STEM education has been reliant on axioms and purported facts that for far too long have been delivered in a banking or absorption model that is, arguably, anti-critical. Unsurprisingly, this pedagogical approach to STEM education has failed large segments of students; and, this is especially true of African American males. This study investigated the potential inroads and vistas of a Saturday Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program, Male Aptitudes Nurtured for Unlimited Potential (MAN UP), designed to foster interest and competence in STEM subjects by middle school African American males. Critical pedagogical perspectives were central to the program’s design and implementation as was the intent to increase their STEM competency in conjunction with developing STEM identities that are informed by social justice perspectives. Data collection covered the implementation of this program with first year MAN UP students for two or three Saturdays per month for a full academic year. Data included pre and post and focus group interviews with the entire first year cohort, participant observation in a focal class, classroom observations of the cohort’s two additional STEM classes, video tapes of cohort students’ project presentations, their online reflective journals, as well as interviews with their STEM instructors along with the instructors’ online learning designs and reflections. This study significantly illuminates and documents viable approaches to increasing the interest in, competence with, and potential for socially just applications of science, technology, engineering, and math by students who are often marginalized in these subjects.

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