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STEM academic achievement and perceptions of family support: a gender analysis

Daniella LaShaun Smith (Department of Information Science, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Tandra L. Tyler–Wood (Department of Learning Technologies, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 8 April 2020

Issue publication date: 23 February 2021




This study examines the results of a STEM unit taught in an elementary school library, with 26 fourth-grade students as the participants.


A quasi-experimental design was used. The relationships between the independent variable gender and the perceptions of familial support structures and academic achievement were examined.


For the entire group, the average academic achievement scores of the participants increased. The increase was not statistically significant. The male students had a statistically significant improvement in their academic achievement scores, and there was a statistically significant decrease in the academic achievement scores of the female students. An increase in the female students' belief that their family was interested in their science classes was correlated with a decrease in their academic achievement scores.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size for this study is small, and the results are not generalizable. Open-ended questions were not included in the data collection instruments. Therefore, it cannot be determined why the overall academic scores may have decreased for female students. Further research is encouraged.

Practical implications

The results of this study show the potential for STEM activities in school libraries. School librarians can provide students with low-risk, informal learning environments to practice new skills.

Social implications

Libraries equalize the availability of resources that otherwise may not be available to populations underrepresented in STEM careers. School librarians have the potential to serve as much needed STEM role models. The availability of STEM activities in school libraries can make it possible for more students to understand what STEM careers are interesting to them.


There are very few studies to examine the results of STEM activities implemented in school libraries that use quasi-experimental or experimental research designs. This study adds to the corpus of research that can be used to support the preparation of students for STEM careers with activities in school libraries.



This research was funded by the American Association of School Libraries and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Science, #RE-00-15-0114-15. The authors also acknowledge the following precursor research projects: FAB @ School Classroom, National Science Foundation (NSF) ITEST # 1030865 (2010-2015), STEM Pre-Academy, The Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii # 68482 (2014-2016), and Going Green! MSOSW, NSF ITEST # 1312168.


Smith, D.L. and Tyler–Wood, T.L. (2021), "STEM academic achievement and perceptions of family support: a gender analysis", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 205-219.



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