Effective inclusion practices for neurodiverse children and adolescents in informal STEM learning: a systematic review protocol

Ronda J. Jenson, Michele S. Lee, Arden D. Day, Amy E. Hughes, Emma E. Maroushek, Kelly D. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Informal learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can enhance STEM learning that occurs in formal educational settings and curricula as well as generate enthusiasm for considering STEM careers. The aim of this systematic review is to focus on the experiences of neurodiverse students in informal STEM learning. Neurodiversity is a subgroup of neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other neurological conditions. The neurodiversity movement regards these conditions as natural forms of human variation, as opposed to dysfunction, and recognizes that neurodiverse individuals possess many strengths relevant to STEM fields. Methods: The authors will systematically search electronic databases for relevant research and evaluation articles addressing informal STEM learning for K-12 children and youth with neurodiverse conditions. Seven databases and content-relevant websites (e.g., informalscience.org) will be searched using a predetermined search strategy and retrieved articles will be screened by two members of the research team. Data synthesis will include meta-synthesis techniques, depending on the designs of the studies. Discussion: The synthesis of the findings resulting from various research and evaluation designs, across the K-12 age span, and across various informal STEM learning contexts, will lead to depth and breadth of understanding of ways to improve informal STEM learning programs for neurodiverse children and youth. The identification of informal STEM learning program components and contexts shown to yield positive results will provide specific recommendations for improving inclusiveness, accessibility, and STEM learning for neurodiverse children and youth. Trial registration: The current study has been registered in PROSPERO. Registration number: CRD42021278618.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Informal learning
  • Neurodiversity
  • STEM
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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