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Stem Partnerships That Spill Over

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

College/University Engineering Students K-12 Outreach

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1135.1 - 10.1135.12



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Paper Authors

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Brecca Berman

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Gordon Kingsley

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Donna Llewellyn

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Marion Usselman

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

STEM Partnerships that Spill Over Marion Usselman1, Gordon Kingsley2, Donna Llewellyn3, Brecca Berman2 1 Center for Education Integrating Science, Math, and Computing (CEISMC) 2 School of Public Policy 3 Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) Georgia Institute of Technology


In recent years the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) have emphasized that universities have an inherent responsibility to assist the K-12 community in improving student academic achievement, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). After a number of years of involving higher education in various ways in targeted and systemic K-12 reform, NSF and the DoE began to promote university-K-12 “partnerships” as the means to most effectively involve higher education in the process. However what this exactly meant in the STEM educational world, or how effective partnerships should be created and evaluated, was mostly left undefined, generating confusion among both educators and evaluators.

As part of an NSF-sponsored Research, Evaluation, and Technological Assistance project designed to help clarify the evaluative issues involved with partnerships, we are currently examining how the characteristics and operations of partnerships influence STEM educational outcomes.* Part of this project addresses the vexing issue of how to evaluate both the outcomes of a partnership, and the partnership itself. For, although a partnership is often viewed primarily as a vehicle or framework for conducting other planned STEM activities or interventions, it often becomes much more than that, leading to a multitude of unanticipated activities and outcomes. Evaluations that don’t directly address the partnership, and the unanticipated outcomes that result, may suffer from a weak formative assessment regarding the health of the partnership, and also may miss some of the most important results of that partnership.

The unintended consequences of the partnership, defined here as “spillover”, can become so crucial that they eclipse the original project objectives, becoming themselves a driving force in the program. Traditional evaluations, which generally seek to measure the numerical success of the original project objectives, often do not control for the impacts and influences of the partnership itself, and may miss both the project spillovers, and also possible alternative explanations for observed events or impacts. In this paper we will discuss the knowledge about partnership gained from the field of public policy, apply this understanding to the field of STEM

* NSF Award Number 0231904. 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 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Berman, B., & Kingsley, G., & Llewellyn, D., & Usselman, M. (2005, June), Stem Partnerships That Spill Over Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14770

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