Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Pre-College Engineering Education
Introduction: Curriculum for high school students who participate in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are generally focused on delivery of knowledge in effort to ensure achievement of learning outcomes related to important scientific concepts in preparation for post-secondary study. Considering a global learning environment of rapid technological change at the cutting edge, curriculum STEM knowledge quickly loses its relevance to application, highlighting the importance in focusing on development of a critical thinking framework for students. In 2016, graduate students at Institution X created Discovery, a collaborative educational program focused on developing and reinforcing critical thinking skills of high school students through inquiry in the context of biomedical engineering (BME) in a post-secondary setting. Evaluation of student performance has revealed the value of this a differential learning environment for students who struggle in a knowledge-focused classroom. Following five terms of activity, the program has recently grown to include participation of a second school from a different socioeconomic region, allowing for assessment of cultural impact of learning. Methods: To date, Discovery has included engagement each term of approximately 25 post-secondary student instructors and 2 faculty members, and has impacted approximately 200 senior science students (Grades 11 & 12; biology, chemistry and physics classes) and 9 STEM educators from two local secondary schools. Graduate student leaders and high school educators collaboratively developed hands-on BME-based practical challenges aligning with school science curricula (new ideation each term), executed by small groups of high school students in capstone format to address course-specific requests for proposals. Entire class cohorts from each school visited campus on different days throughout the term, executing the same project and sharing outcomes at a culminating symposium attended by both schools. To validate student learning in the context of high school curriculum, educators assigned 15% of term course grades to Discovery deliverables. Surveys were administered pre- and post-participation to garner insight into student perceptions of the experience. Student attendance was monitored and grades for on-campus program deliverables were compared to grades for remaining classroom deliverables. Results and Discussion: Combinational assessment of five terms of data from the inaugural participating high school demonstrated positive impact of this inquiry focused differential learning environment. Notably, a cohort of students with reduced success in the knowledge-focused classroom environment excelled during Discovery, displaying average program grades >15% higher than their overall course term average. This suggests the value of Discovery as a learning environment that inspires STEM participation. Program expansion in Spring 2019 saw the addition of a second school, doubling student and instructional participation. Preliminary assessment of one term of multi-school participation presents very different student outcomes, with notably less engagement observed by educators and program instructors in the inquiry-focused program structure. This suggests a potential cultural element to program impact, wherein the socioeconomics of the newest school is higher and educators remarked student attitudes toward more ambiguous learning is resistive. At ASEE 2020, we will expand on our findings to include longitudinal data reflecting variation in student success between these two school cohorts. Conclusions: To date, student and educator engagement and enthusiasm reinforce that Discovery provides a platform to blur the divide between secondary and post-secondary learning, fostering the development of critical thinking skills crucial for the success of future STEM generations. Our current findings suggest a cultural impact to this success, presenting opportunities to tune program structure to meet individual student needs. We anticipate continued positive impact of this program on high school science students this term, regardless of school of origin or previous participation.
Callaghan, N. I., & Cadavid, J. L., & Chang, H. H., & Co, I. L., & Ivanov, N., & Tran-Nguyen, N., & Rubianto, J., & Davenport Huyer, L., & Kilkenny, D. M. (2020, June), Discovery: Differential Student Impact is Evident Within an Inquiry-focused Secondary/Post-secondary Collaborative STEM Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34469
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