Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Shelia Gregory, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Trevor Turner, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Darrell Groves, Ph.D.


This dissertation explores the extent social capital and social networking impact student achievement in STEM within communities of divergent affluence and influence. The lack of parity of academic amenities within communities, including academic tutoring, math and science classes, and workshops tend to impede student achievement within the schoolhouse. Therefore, activities occurring within households result in each community’s ability to serve as either a bridge or a barrier to student academic success. The author argues that through community mobilization to drive further access to community-based academic resources, students can be connected to opportunities to nourish their STEM competencies, which will lead to increased success in the core STEM courses of mathematics and science. Communities with higher socioeconomic standings have an embedded innate framework of networking through associations and affiliations. Due to these memberships in a cross-section of activities, including neighborhood associations, parent groups, and civic organizations, there is a natural ebb and flow of communication and action that encourages opportunities to emerge for the benefit of its community's children.

The author investigated the relationship between student STEM achievement in school and the ability of families to access academic opportunities outside of the school environment. Data collected included an array of primary and secondary sources, student state test scores, and program marketing documents of STEM education providers. To further explore the relationship between variables, surveys completed by community stakeholders and parents were distributed and analyzed.

The quality of instruction occurring within community-based STEM opportunities was measured through analyses of survey instruments and documents, curriculum standards, and approaches to learning.