Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Gerald C. Tiffin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Scot Headley, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kevin M. Carr, Ph.D.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established in 1958 and began operating a formal education program in 1993. The purpose of this study was to analyze the education program from 1993 - 2009 by examining strategic plan documents produced by the NASA education office and interviewing NASA education officials who served during that time period. Constant changes in education leadership at NASA resulted in changes in direction in the education program and the documents produced by each administration reflected both small and some significant changes in program direction. The result of the analysis of documents and interview data was the identification of several trends in the NASA education program. This study identified three significant trends in NASA education. First, the approach that NASA took in both its EPO efforts and in the efforts directed by the Office of Education is disjointed and seems to reflect individual preferences in education approaches designed to reach populations that are of interest to the individuals in decision-making positions rather than reflect a systematic approach designed to meet identified goals and outcomes. Second, this disjointed and person-driven approach led to a lack of consistent evaluation data available for review and planning purposes. Third, there was an ongoing assumption made by the education community that NASA education efforts were tied to larger education reports, concerns, needs, initiatives and evidence collected and presented in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education-related studies over the past twenty years. In fact, there is no evidence that the programs and projects initiated were a response to these identified needs or initiatives. That does not mean that NASA's efforts did not contribute to STEM education initiatives in the United States. This study, however, indicates that contributions to those initiatives occurred as a byproduct of the effort and not because of specific goals aligned to those initiatives.

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