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The Diálogos project was a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between TERC, Oregon State University, Metropolitan Family Service (MFS), and Mt. Hood Community College Head Start. The exploratory project was designed to engage parents as research partners in leveraging informal family engineering activities to support the development of executive function skills for preschool-age children from Latinx families. Through the project, we aspired to work collaboratively with parents, centering the strengths and assets of Latinx families to re-imagine the intersection of STEM learning and executive function and lay the foundation for equity-focused research. 

The project was motivated by three research questions: 

  1. What knowledge, assets, and practices already exist within Latinx families related to executive function skills? 
  1. What aspects of executive function skills can be supported through informal family engineering activities? 
  1. What design strategies are promising for adapting informal family engineering activities to highlight family assets and support executive function skills for young children? 

During the 2022–23 school year, the team engaged with 12 Latinx parents in an ongoing series of virtual, Zoom-based conversations introducing the topics of engineering and executive function, connecting these to the goals and interests of families, and collaboratively testing family activities and other resources. Through this process, several findings emerged that will be communicated through future publications and project resources: 

  • Importance of building strong partnerships 
  • Process of learning with families through dialogue 
  • Latinx family assets connected with engineering, executive function, and resilience 
  • Shared problems of practice identified through dialogue with Latinx families 

Project Resources 

The following resources were developed collaboratively with partners and family participants. 

  • REVISE project spotlight 
    Project PI Smirla Ramos Montañez talked about the Diálogos project and how it advances equity in the STEM education field.  
  • Society for Research in Child Development Conference Poster 
    Project partners from Oregon State University summarized the results of a literature review conducted as part of the Diálogos project and intended to summarize the evidence from strengths-focused, family-based executive function (EF) interventions for children under the age of six in the U.S.