University of Colorado at Boulder

MOST-Science FAQs

MOST-Science logo, click to start the questionnaireWe are no longer collecting data for this study, but have retained this page to provide some information about the study design. Thanks for your interest!

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What is MOST-Science?

MOST-Science stands for Mapping Out-of-School-Time Science. It is a research study to understand the variations and commonalities of U.S. out-of-school-time (OST) programs for youth that focus on science, technology, or engineering.

Many educators, funders and policy-makers believe in the value of OST science experiences for young people. But as a community, we do not yet have a good understanding of exactly what kinds of programs are out there— their goals and the practices that best help them to achieve those goals. Our study aims to describe this vast and diverse national landscape, and to lay the groundwork for future studies that examine the goals, practices, and outcomes of OST science programs in greater depth.

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What programs are included in the MOST-Science Study?

We have defined our study sample as youth programs

We focus on the middle and high school years because this is when students' science interests often decline or strengthen, and when they begin to make decisions about their future careers.

We use the term "science" inclusively, meaning technology and engineering as well as life, physical, Earth and space sciences. Sometimes these disciplinary distinctions matter more to adults than to young people!

We do not generally use the term STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) because we view this term as describing career fields rather than youth interests. We also exclude mathematics-focused programs, a choice that reflects our interest in hands-on investigation and design experiences. Likewise, our choice to focus on group-oriented programs, rather than those for individual students, reflects our interest in collaborative learning.

Many OST programs focus on math and non-STEM disciplines, are conducted mainly online, or target younger kids. All of these are worthwhile subjects to study—but the youth OST community is so rich and diverse, we have to draw the line somewhere to design a manageable study.

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Is my program "science-focused" enough?

Your program may be science-focused if youth...

We include any youth program whose organizers describe it as science-focused, science-rich, or centered on science, engineering or STEM topics. Science-focused youth programs may also include mathematics, computing, technology activities, reading, writing, public speaking, the arts, games and recreation, leadership training, self-esteem building... and more! There is no universal agreement about what counts as "enough" science. We trust your description of what is important to you.

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Why should I participate?

When you profile your programs in our nation-wide database, you:

In addition, you have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate! One winner's name will be drawn randomly from every group of 15 responses in order of completion. Each winner will be notified by e-mail and will receive his or her choice of:

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Who should complete the questionnaire?

Because the questionnaire asks for in-depth information about each youth program, the best person to complete it will be someone who is familiar with both the day-to-day workings of the youth program and the bigger picture of your organization as a whole. If your organization offers several different youth programs, it may help to coordinate within your workplace so that each profile can be filled out by the person who manages that particular program.

We invite you to complete the questionnaire whether you run a local program or are affiliated with a larger, regional or national program (e.g. scouting, 4-H, Boys' & Girls' Clubs).

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How do I participate?

To contribute to the study, you will first create an account on the questionnaire web site. Once you have created an account, you can log out and back in as often as necessary. You may contribute as many programs as you like.

After you have created an account and logged in, you will be prompted to build a Program Profile for each of your youth programs. The first few questions will check on certain program features that help us to define the study sample.

Later questions ask about the structure and educational content of your program, your youth audience, and adult involvement as facilitators or mentors. We will ask you to describe a typical activity that youth do as part of your program. We also ask for some information about your organization and the partners who help you bring your programs to youth. It may be helpful to have certain facts handy, such as:

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How long will it take me to complete the questionnaire?

It takes around 15 minutes to create one program profile. The total time needed will depend on how many programs you choose to contribute. For a large organization with many programs, it may take over an hour. However, once you have created an account, you can log out and back in as many times as necessary.

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What do you mean by ... ? Terms used in the MOST-Science Questionnaire

We have defined certain terms that we use consistently. In this questionnaire, we refer to:

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Is this study approved by the IRB?

The protocol for this study has received approval as human subjects research by the Institutional Research Board (IRB) at the University of Colorado Boulder. By completing the questionnaire, you are giving us permission to use your data as part of the study. Your individual and program information will remain confidential within the research team. If we choose to quote anything you write— for example to illustrate a theme or pattern in the data— we will remove any information that may identify you individually.

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May I have access to the data?

Currently, the MOST-Science database is a research tool only. We are considering how, in the future, we will share the information we collect in ways that will be valuable to the OST community. Because the information you provide is confidential, we cannot share it with other participants or members of the public.

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What are the next steps?

MOST-Science is only the first part of what we envision to be a larger research effort. We are collaborating with Robert Tai and colleagues at the University of Virginia to develop a longitudinal study of the outcomes of youth OST science and engineering education.

After the mapping study is complete, we plan to conduct in-depth field work at several youth program sites around the country. If you would like us to consider your program for further study, make sure to click 'YES' on the last item of the questionnaire, giving us permission to contact you in the future. This expresses your interest but does not oblige you to participate in any future studies.

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Further reading

Here's a list of our reports and papers so far.

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The MOST-Science team comes from the University of Colorado Boulder and includes Rebecca Crane, Heather Thiry and Sandra Laursen. We are collaborating with Robert Tai and his research group at the University of Virginia

The MOST-Science project is supported by the Noyce Foundation and by the National Science Foundation through the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) , under grant #DRL-1010953.


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