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Need/Motivation (e.g., goals, gaps in knowledge) The ESTEEM implemented a STEM building capacity project through students’ early access to a sustainable and innovative STEM Stepping Stones, called Micro-Internships (MI). The goal is to reap key benefits of a full-length internship and undergraduate research experiences in an abbreviated format, including access, success, degree completion, transfer, and recruiting and retaining more Latinx and underrepresented students into the STEM workforce. The MIs are designed with the goals to provide opportunities for students at a community college and HSI, with authentic STEM research and applied learning experiences (ALE), support for appropriate STEM pathway/career, preparation and confidence to succeed in STEM and engage in summer long REUs, and with improved outcomes. The MI projects are accessible early to more students and build momentum to better overcome critical obstacles to success. The MIs are shorter, flexibly scheduled throughout the year, easily accessible, and participation in multiple MI is encouraged. ESTEEM also establishes a sustainable and collaborative model, working with partners from BSCS Science Education, for MI’s mentor, training, compliance, and building capacity, with shared values and practices to maximize the improvement of student outcomes. New Knowledge (e.g., hypothesis, research questions) Research indicates that REU/internship experiences canmore »
“I Understand Their Frustrations a Little Bit Better”: Elementary Teachers’ Affective Stances in Engineering in an Online Learning ProgramAs K-12 engineering education becomes more ubiquitous in the U.S, increased attention has been paid to preparing the heterogeneous group of in-service teachers who have taken on the challenge of teaching engineering. Standards have emerged for professional development along with research on teacher learning in engineering that call for teachers to facilitate and support engineering learning environments. Given that many teachers may not have experienced engineering practice calls have been made to engage teaches K-12 teachers in the “doing” of engineering as part of their preparation. However, there is a need for research studying more specific nature of the “doing” and the instructional implications for engaging teachers in “doing” engineering. In general, to date, limited time and constrained resources necessitate that many professional development programs for K-12 teachers to engage participants in the same engineering activities they will enact with their students. While this approach supports teachers’ familiarity with curriculum and ability to anticipate students’ ideas, there is reason to believe that these experiences may not be authentic enough to support teachers in developing a rich understanding of the “doing” of engineering. K-12 teachers are often familiar with the materials and curricular solutions, given their experiences as adults, which meansmore »
“Weebles wobble but they also commit to lifelong relationships”: teachers’ transdisciplinary learning in computational play
Computational approaches in STEM foster creative extrapolations of ideas that extend the bounds of human perception, processing, and sense-making. Inviting teachers to explore computational approaches in STEM presents opportunities to examine shifting relationships to inquiry that support transdisciplinary learning in their classrooms. Similarly, play has long been acknowledged as activity that supports learners in taking risks, exploring the boundaries and configurations of existing structures, and imagining new possibilities. Yet, play is often overlooked as a crucial element of STEM learning, particularly for adolescents and adults. In this paper, we explore
computational playas an activity that supports teachers’ transdisciplinary STEM learning. We build from an expansive notion of computational activity that involves jointly co-constructing and co-exploring rule-based systems in conversation with materials, collaborators, and communities to work towards jointly defined goals. We situate computation within STEM-rich making as a playful context for engaging in authentic, creative inquiry. Our research asks What are the characteristics of play and computation within computational play? And, in what ways does computational play contribute to teachers’ transdisciplinary learning? Results
Teachers from grades 3–12 participated in a professional learning program that centered playful explorations of materials and tools using computational approaches: making objects based on rules that produce emergentmore »
We argue computational play is a space of wonderment where iterative conversations with materials create opportunities for learners to author forms of transdisciplinary learning. Our results show how teachers and students can learn together in computational play, and we conclude this work can contribute to ongoing efforts in the design of professional and transdisciplinary learning environments focused on the intersections of materiality, play, and computation.
The Impact of Participating in College-Run STEM Clubs and Programs on Students’ STEM Career Aspirations
The United States continues to invest considerable resources into developing the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent. Efforts to shore up interest in pursuing STEM careers span decades and have increasingly focused on boosting interest among diverse student populations. Policymakers have called for engaging students in a greater STEM ecology of support that extends beyond the traditional classroom environment to increase student STEM career interest. Yet, few robust studies exist exploring the efficacy of many programmatic efforts and initiatives outside the regular curriculum intended to foster STEM interest. To maximize STEM education investments, promote wise policies, and help achieve the aim of creating STEM learning ecosystems that benefit diverse student populations and meet the nation’s STEM goals, it is crucial to examine the effectiveness of these kinds of STEM education initiatives in promoting STEM career aspirations.
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the impact of one popular, yet understudied, STEM education initiative on students’ STEM career aspirations: participation in a university- or college-run STEM club or program activity (CPA) during high school. Specifically, we studied whether participation in a college-run STEM CPA at a postsecondary institution during high school was related to college-goingmore »
We conducted a quasi-experimental investigation to explore the impact of participation in university- or college-run STEM CPAs on college-going students’ STEM career aspirations. We administered a retrospective cohort survey to students at 27 colleges and universities nationwide resulting in a sample of 15,847 respondents. An inverse probability of treatment weighted logistic regression model with a robust set of controls was computed to estimate the odds of expressing STEM career aspirations among those who participated in college-run STEM CPAs compared with the odds expressed among students who did not participate. Our weighting accounted for self-selection effects.
Quasi-experimental modeling results indicated that participation in university- or college-run STEM CPAs had a significant impact on the odds that college-going students would express STEM career aspirations relative to students who did not participate. The odds of expressing interest in a STEM career among participants in STEM CPAs were 1.49 times those of the control group. Robustness checks confirmed our results. The result held true for students whether or not they expressed interest in STEM careers prior to participation in STEM CPAs, and it held true across a diverse range of student characteristics (e.g., race, parental education, gender, standardized test scores, and family/school encouragement).
Results suggest that university- and college-run STEM CPAs play an important role in the STEM education ecology, serving the national goal of expanding the pool of college-going students who aspire to STEM careers. Moreover, results showed that participation in university- and college-run STEM CPAs during high school is equally effective across diverse student characteristics. Policymakers, educators, and those charged with making investment decisions in STEM education should seriously consider university- and college-run STEM CPAs as a promising vehicle to promote diverse students’ STEM career aspirations in the broader STEM learning ecosystem and as an important complement to other STEM learning environments.
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