Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Renee Clary

Committee Member

William H. Cooke III

Committee Member

M. Cade Smith

Committee Member

Ryan Walker

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Geoscience Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


The Mississippi State University leaderSTATE STEM program provides a variety of experiences for Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) high school cadets across three states: Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, the majority from underrepresented demographic populations. LeaderSTATE STEM offers 5-day residential summer camps (N=6) for over 300 students annually. The camps utilize a variety of geosciences STEM activities to increase students' awareness of science and opportunities in geoscience careers. To evaluate the effectiveness of student attitudes towards science, the Test of Science Related Attitudes (TOSRA) instrument was used to ascertain changes in attitudes about science and society. Paired pre-post TOSRA survey results from 2014-2017 camp cycles (N= 1141 students) were analyzed for race, gender, and school correlations. Chi square analysis revealed only a scattered statistical improvement throughout the data (p = 0.05). More research is needed to determine whether the 5-day experience is too limited to result in high school students' attitudinal changes towards science, or whether the TOSRA instrument provides an appropriate assessment for the leaderSTATE STEM camps. A secondary assessment instrument was employed pre- and post-camp to ascertain the abilities of the students in their interpretation of graphically displayed data. That instrument assessed changes in the students' abilities in understanding basic data terminology and interpretation of data shown on graphs. Assessment was performed with a pre-camp - post-camp survey and analysis of change determined with a paired t-test with Cohen's d to determine effect size. A significant p value below 0.05 was determined for only one of six camps in 2016, and for three of six camps in 2017. In both years, Cohen's d effect size was small for two of six camps annually, and medium for all other camps. A follow-on weather data project was developed for, and implemented with, the students in the JROTC programs in the seven schools in the Jackson, Mississippi school district. That month-long project was an extension of topics introduced in the leaderSTATE summer camp program. Two schools performed well in both years of the project, two schools performed in the mid-range, and three schools underperformed in both years of the project.