WWC review of this study

The Baltimore City Schools Middle School STEM Summer Program with VEX Robotics

Mac Iver, Martha Abele; Mac Iver, Douglas J. (2015). Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED570654

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: January 2017

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Maryland School Assessment-Math

VEX robotics vs. Business as usual

1 Year

2012 Cohort;
652 students




More Outcomes

Maryland School Assessment-Math

VEX robotics vs. Business as usual

1 Year

2013 Cohort;
1,114 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 27%
    Male: 73%

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The study occurred in Baltimore, Maryland middle schools. Although originally intended to be delivered on local college campuses, the program was (in all cases but 1) delivered in middle schools: 9 in 2012 and 10 in 2013. The one college delivery site was employed in 2013.

Study sample

A majority of students, across both conditions, identified as male (73%). Most students also indicated that they received free-or-reduced-price lunch benefits (83%). A small minority of students were placed into a special education program (16%). The program recruited students who had scored "basic" in math on the state standardized test, so most participating students were low achievers in math.

Intervention Group

This study evaluated the VEX Robotics summer program implemented within Baltimore city middle schools. "The five-week summer program offered in 2012, 2013 and 2014 consisted of half-day of instruction in mathematics and science and half-day enrichment activities. The robotics workshops taught students the fundamentals of building robots and providing time for teams to build their own robots and participate in competitions" (pg. 1). Recruited teachers taught the courses and received professional development sessions in the weeks prior to the start of the summer program. A primary program goal was to improve teacher instruction through these professional development sessions. The professional development sessions were designed to equip teachers to help "students in the development of fact fluency and automaticity" (pg. 5) as well as Common Core standards and emphasizing mathematical problem solving.

Comparison Group

Comparison students did not attend the summer school program.

Support for implementation

Teachers of the program attended professional development sessions the week before the start of the program. After the introductory session, teachers attended sessions specific to either science or math instruction. A subset of these teachers also attended professional development sessions focused on robotics. Individual and group planning time was included as part of the professional development week.


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