Asee peer logo

Removing Barriers and Preparing Students for STEM Majors through Partnerships with Local Public Schools

Download Paper |

Conference

2021 CoNECD

Location

Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 6 Technical Session 4

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

Page Count

14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36117

Download Count

37

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Don Wittrock University of Cincinnati CEAS Office of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement

visit author page

Don has over 25 years in working with science and community based youth programs. His education background is in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University and a Master's from Miami University. My focus has been synthesizing research to put into practice for programs which focus on increasing the diversity in STEM for young people.

visit author page

biography

Whitney Gaskins University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Dr. Gaskins is the Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science, the only African-American female currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. Whitney earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education. In her role as Assistant Dean, Dr. Gaskins has revamped the summer bridge program to increase student support and retention as well as developed and strengthened partnerships in with local area school districts to aid in the high school to college pathway.
In 2009, she founded The Gaskins Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate and empower the African American community. Her foundation recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year round K-12 program, which is a free of charge program that will introduce more students to Math and Science. She was named the 2017 K12 Champion by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA).

visit author page

biography

Jutshi Agarwal University of Cincinnati

visit author page

I am a PhD candidate in Aerospace Engineering with research objectives focussed on Engineering Education. Currently, I am the Lead Graduate Teaching Assistant for the first year engineering design course with an enrollment of 1300 students across all engineering majors.

visit author page

biography

Gibin Raju University of Cincinnati Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2559-6931

visit author page

Gibin Raju is an Adjunct Faculty with the Transition and Access Program at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a graduate student in Educational Studies with the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests are focused on ID/ODD, stem accessibility issues, workforce development, STEM education, and education practices.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Removing barriers and preparing students for STEM majors through partnerships with local public schools

This study will present a partnership between a College of Engineering and a local school district faced with low numbers of students enrolling in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics majors who sought to change the trend. Our partnership began planning in 2019 and started our first cohort the summer of 2020. This Public School District has 35,000 students and 75% of them are from under-represented Minorities. Unknowingly over the years, the number of schools offering a High School Algebra-based Physics course has decreased. The College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) requires students to have high school Physics and Chemistry as minimum coursework for admissions into college level engineering degrees. Part of the reason for the decline in the local students entering STEM majors at the university was found to be the lack of access to these courses among students in high schools. Physics was identified as the course that a larger number of schools were unable to offer due to staffing, scheduling, or other concerns. The university has a new strategic direction, “NEXT lives here”, and seeks to strengthen the access, preparation, and pathway programs for local students through the “XXX Strong” initiative. The College of Engineering and Applied Science, after much research on the barriers, decided to offer an Algebra based Physics course for local students. During the planning process, a large amount of focus was given to creating a college credit plus course where students would receive college credit while in high school. In order for this to happen, however, the students would need to meet college level math requirements and the course would have to be a college level course. For college application purposes, students needed an algebra based physics course, where they could get a background, develop interest, and build confidence with the material versus a college level course which may or may not count for credit at the college they choose. It was imperative we focused on providing the access and opportunity for the local students to have equal educational resources including, the science courses, so they could be considered on a more equal basis for admission to STEM majors in colleges, more specifically at the local University. Utilizing the Ohio Department of Education Credit Flexibility option where students can engage in outside courses for mastery, our two organizations were able to begin to remove the barrier. This course took place over the summer, interfering with many plans students may have such as work and family obligations. With Credit Flexibility, students are not held to a specific hour total or seat time. Instead, students are assessed on demonstrated skill and level of performance. We designed our course to cover the Ohio Department of Education’s Physics standards and created an interactive, project-based learning course to enable students to experience and master the use of physics in everyday life. Learning was assessed by a pre/post evaluation of content knowledge, testing on topics, daily assignments, and a final presentation on “application of physics in real life.” This initiative was in line with the goal of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement to increase the number of Under-represented Minorities in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Intentionally working with our diverse school district to provide this physics course will begin to develop a pipeline for the school and STEM Fields. Typically, upon applying for any STEM discipline, if students were missing physics or chemistry they would be directed to an exploratory program or a second choice major instead of the College of Engineering. This would lengthen the time and financial burden of students for their college career. It was believed many would then choose another major entirely as a result. Taking this course instead can begin to open a new pathway for students to consider and be eligible for admission while providing greater career exploration. Students can now foresee a career in STEM fields if they so choose. Local companies have also sought to diversify their workforce in STEM fields and were interested in investing in the STEM pipeline. Once aware of the barrier, they were more than willing to partner with the University and the course was able to secure funding from these local companies for 5 years. This session will highlight the many layers and facets of accomplishing this partnership. The study will describe the mechanics, planning, hiring, recruitment and implementation of the offered course. As details were being finalized, the course was modified to accommodate for circumstances arising due to the COVID -19 pandemic. A new virtual format was developed to engage high school students instead of the original in person design. This new virtual format presented a unique set of challenges to overcome such as the interactive labs which then had to be adapted for simple household items all students would find while in quarantine. Our research plan will include evaluation of student knowledge, effectiveness of content delivery, and interest in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology. Upon enrollment, participants initially took an assessment of basic understanding of physics principals such as kinematics, forces, and waves which will be compared to a similar post-test as a measure of improvement. Students’ end of course presentations, which are a collection of examples of the course topics represented in real life, will also be analyzed for understanding and application of course material. Interest in STEM fields will be assessed through a questionnaire about how the course may have impacted their choice of potential career fields. These items will guide us in future iterations of the course and expansion of our efforts into Chemistry and a combined Physics/Calculus course in the future. The resulting analysis will investigate whether participants in the course: A) were more likely to pursue an education and career in STEM than a non-participant, B) were able to define strong foundation in physics curriculum as per high school standards of the district c) persisted in pursuing education in STEM after high school graduation.

Wittrock, D., & Gaskins, W., & Agarwal, J., & Raju, G. (2021, January), Removing Barriers and Preparing Students for STEM Majors through Partnerships with Local Public Schools Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . https://peer.asee.org/36117

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015