The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) runs the FIRST® LEGO® League in the UK and Ireland, delivering hands-on STEM experiences for children. The IET were keen to assess the impact that the tournaments were having on participants’ attitudes towards STEM, so they commissioned Shift to conduct research on the 2016-17 season, having worked with us the previous year on their Faraday offer. We were then asked to continue this research for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, with methodologies adapting over time.
For the first two seasons (2016-2018), we conducted interviews with teachers before and after the challenge day, as well as a survey with student participants, alongside a control group of non-participants with similar characteristics. Over 400 children aged 8-15 were asked about their attitudes towards STEM, their participation in other STEM activities, their enjoyment of the League, their likelihood to participate again, and their perceptions of impact. For the 2018-2019 season, the focus was purely on those participating in the tournaments and involved in-depth qualitative telephone interviews with teachers from 20 schools to generate rich and detailed case studies.
As a result of these studies, Shift provided a range of findings relating to young people and STEM, including an Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) of attendees and non-attendees to allow effective measurement of the impact of participating in the FIRST® LEGO® League programme on perceptions and attitudes towards STEM. Shift also developed 8 theme-based case studies to outline subjective experiences of taking part in FIRST® LEGO® League, focusing on the benefits of participation and its positive impact on a range of areas.