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Partnering Across Cultures: Bridging The Divide Between Universities And Minority High Schools

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Attracting Young MINDs

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.980.1 - 9.980.20



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Paper Authors

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Dara O'Neil

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Gordon Kingsley

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Donna Llewellyn

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Marion Usselman

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Partnering Across Cultures: Bridging the Divide between Universities and Minority High Schools Marion Usselman1, Donna Llewellyn2, Dara O’Neil3, Gordon Kingsley3, 1 Center for Education Integrating Science, Math, and Computing (CEISMC) 2 Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) 3 School of Public Policy Georgia Institute of Technology

Abstract The historical mission of most engineering-dominated Research-1 universities is to create new knowledge and to train students in technological fields. In the absence of a College of Education, and given an institutional culture prioritizing scholarly research, institutions such as Georgia Tech often do not have a long history of systemic faculty involvement in the K-12 educational community. However the current national focus, initiated by public funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, encourages academic scientists and engineers to shoulder some of the responsibilities for the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the K-12 level, and to do this by developing university-K-12 “partnerships.” Unfortunately, given the vast cultural differences that exist between universities and K-12 schools, these partnerships too often flounder, never managing to bridge the divide to the point of mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit.

We are currently in the third year of an NSF-funded GK-12 project, the Student and Teacher Enhancement Partnership (STEP)*, and are preparing to embark on a five-year extension. A major part of this project has been the building, nurturing, and grooming of partnerships between Georgia Tech and local minority high schools. As part of this project we have developed a model of partnerships that is grounded in the public policy literature and that describes the evolution of the partnerships created between Georgia Tech and four minority-dominated high schools as part of STEP. In this paper we will describe the theoretical framework of the partnership model, outline ways to assess partnership outcomes, and apply this model to the STEP program case study.

Theoretical Framework of a Partnership Model As part of a separate NSF-sponsored research project, we are examining how partnerships influence STEM educational outcomes in NSF’s Systemic Initiatives Program and Math and Science Partnerships Program.† We do so by exploring how the emergence, operation, and in some cases, dissolution of partnerships influence the process by which STEM educational

* NSF Award Number 0086420 † NSF Award Number 0231904. We are in our second year of this three-year project. For more details on this research, “Alternative Approaches to Evaluating STEM Education Partnerships: A Review of Evaluation Methods and Application of an Interorganizational Model,” please visit the project website at

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

O'Neil, D., & Kingsley, G., & Llewellyn, D., & Usselman, M. (2004, June), Partnering Across Cultures: Bridging The Divide Between Universities And Minority High Schools Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13433

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