FIRST Robotics Interest Development

We investigate STEM interest and its development among high school youth during the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Our conceptualization of Interest is based on Hidi and Renninger’s (2006) Four-Phase Model of Interest Development (FPMID) to identify students’ phases of interest. Using this model we assess changes in interest using our Four-Phase Interest Development in Engineering Survey (FIDES 2.0) at two points: during the pre-season and after the FRC competition season. We have also collected in-person and video observations at the team's worksite and conducted interviews with FRC students to observe how interest is developed.

In our first year we found that students who received feedback matching their phase of interest showed a greater increase in engineering interest than those with mismatched feedback. These findings suggest that STEM programs should consider using students’ phases of interest when regulating feedback and structuring the learning environment. 


Our current analysis of this data (under review) finds that students' development of interest appears to progress in concert with their depth of participation in the FRC community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991). Continued analysis will include examining this phenomena through social network visualizations and a micro analysis of one newcomer's participation trajectory during the course of their first year with the team.