Virtual Project House Gender and Technology: Igniting STEM interest by adaptive interventions



One reason for the lack of young professionals in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is an input problem. Students in general, but even more so female students, fail to develop enough interest in STEM subjects within their school context. It seems to be essential for the development of interest and self-efficacy that psychological basic needs are met by daily use of technology, specifically experiencing competencies and perceiving relevance from a subjective viewpoint.

Previous measures undertaken to enhance interest have proven themselves ineffective for sustained development of interest (e.g. Gardner 1987; Schuster et al. 2004; Köller et al. 2006). This research focuses on influences on developing interest using computer science as an example in training settings with pupils of an age when interests are developed or lost (6th grade). Previous projects (e.g. Roberta or our go4IT!(external link)-project) have established concepts for initiating interest, but did not investigate if and how interest can be stabilized by follow-up measures.


This project will design and systematically evaluate forms of measures to increase STEM interest. One well-established concept for introducing technology to (mainly female) pupils that will be used is based on robotics. Students can experiment by designing, constructing, programming, and testing mobile, autonomous robots, thus learning how technical systems are developed and that technology design is fun. The concept has been proven effective to raise interest of students, but also hints at the need for further measurements to keep up the interest (Shellhove et al. 2005).

An additional measure to stabilize interest in STEM topics will be developed. Students will be invited to an online community where they are offered opportunities to learn a programming language and about basic concepts in computer science.

The effect of the different measures will be formally evaluated with classes from local schools (the pupils in focus are 11/12 years of age). One class will receive a robotics course without the follow-up and one class will receive both a robotics course and the follow-up. A third class will serve as a control group without receiving any treatment.

To identify factors that provoke or hinder interest in STEM pre and post-tests will inquire the pupil’s ICT knowledge, their attitudes towards technology, self-efficacy, and their vocational interests. The post test will take place three months after the initial test.

The project is carried out in cooperation with Prof. Birgit Ziegler(external link), Institut für Erziehungswissenschaften (institute for educational science) of RWTH Aachen University.


The project is in progress, therefore results are not yet available.

Project Runtime

Oktober 2009 –- September 2010 (12 months)


Boost Funds, RWTH Aachen University(external link), Excellence Initiative(external link)


Dipl.-Inform. Philipp Brauner

See also

Project go4IT!(external link) (Robotics workshops for school children)



AuthorsTitleJournal/Conference/PublisherProjectFurther Information Year
Thiemo Leonhardt, Philipp Brauner, Jochen Siebert, Ulrik Schroeder Übertragbarkeit singulärer MINT-Interesse-initiierender außerschulischer Maßnahmen in INFOS 2011, 14. GI-Fachtagung Informatik und Schule, September 2011 VPH go4IT!(external link) 2011
Philipp Brauner, Thiemo Leonhardt, Martina Ziefle, Ulrik Schroeder The effect of tangible artifacts, gender and subjective technical competence on teaching programming to seventh graders in J. Hromkovic, R. Královiè, & J. Vahrenhold, Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Informatics in Secondary Schools: Evolution and Perspective 2010 (ISSEP), Zürich, Springer, Heidelberg, S. 61-71 VPH 2010
Thiemo Leonhardt, Ulrik Schroeder go4IT!: Initiierung und nachhaltige Förderung von Interesse an MINT-Fächern bei Mädchen

in Informatische Bildung in Theorie und Praxis, Beiträge zur INFOS 2009,
13. GI-Fachtagung - Informatik und Schule, Berlin, Sept. 2009, LOG IN Verlag, S. 132-142

go4IT!(external link), VPH 2009

Created by Philipp 'Lipflip' Brauner. Last Modification: Thursday, 24. March 2011 12:23:50 by Philipp 'Lipflip' Brauner.