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Graduate Student Pedagogical Impact Through Development and Delivery of a Collaborative Inquiry-focused High School STEM Program

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pedagogy and Teaching Preparation in Graduate Programs

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Locke Davenport Huyer University of Toronto


Neal I. Callaghan University of Toronto

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Neal Callaghan is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Translational Biology and Engineering program at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research.

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Dawn M. Kilkenny University of Toronto

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Dawn Kilkenny earned her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Immunology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. She subsequently worked for four years as a Senior Research Specialist at the Vanderbilt Cell Imaging Resource (CISR) microscope facility before joining the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor. She is currently the Associate Director, Undergraduate Programs at IBBME as well as the Associate Chair, Years 1 & 2 in the Division of Engineering Science. She serves as faculty supervisor for the Discovery initiative and is program co-director for the Igniting Youth Curiosity in STEM Program. Dawn was a 2017 Early Career Teaching Award recipient at U of T and was named the 2016 Wighton Fellow for excellence in development and teaching of laboratory-based courses in Canadian UG engineering programs.

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Considering a changing academic landscape that desires skill development beyond that of traditional research, post-secondary STEM students now require broad opportunities to improve their translatable skill set. Notably, we routinely observe an increasing number of doctoral students focused on developing their teaching skills, given opportunities to pursue teaching-centred careers post-graduation; therefore, practice in innovative pedagogy is highly advantageous during graduate training. Discovery is a secondary school STEM education program wherein graduate students work collaboratively with secondary school educators to develop unique, inquiry focused programming that bridges the gap between secondary and post-secondary curriculum delivery and learning. Beyond meaningful impact to participating secondary students, the unique leadership, mentorship, and autonomy graduate students possess in the execution of this teaching model provides invaluable opportunity in pedagogical practice.

Depending upon the degree of involvement, graduate trainees may be involved in collaborative curriculum design, act as student group mentors, be points of contact to educators, and/or administrators to Discovery program operation. To date, 93 instructors have developed and delivered this unique educational program to more than 500 senior science secondary students. Quantified self-assessment reveals that the Discovery platform provides opportunities to improve instructor pedagogical skills while positively impacting the secondary school student STEM experience. Collaboration with experienced secondary school educators allows for instructors to combine their cutting-edge technological expertise with learned comprehension of effective teaching pedagogy appropriate for senior secondary school learning. This learning model provides opportunity for educators to share fundamental strategies in teaching with instructors that have a vested interest in developing this skill set. We observe a high level of overall personal satisfaction among trainee instructors, who further indicate a variety of goals for participation including improvement of teaching skills, knowledge translation, and development of community. Repeated instructor participation from term-to-term indicates positive self-perception of the program, in addition to direct impact on the secondary school STEM experience. The strong support and leadership of trainee instructors therefore allows Discovery to be a platform that blurs the divide between secondary and post-secondary learning, fostering the development of critical thinking skills crucial for the success of future STEM generations.

Davenport Huyer, L., & Callaghan, N. I., & Kilkenny, D. M. (2020, June), Graduate Student Pedagogical Impact Through Development and Delivery of a Collaborative Inquiry-focused High School STEM Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34714

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