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WIP: Building the Bioengineering Experience for Science Teachers (BEST) 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

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Miiri Kotche University of Illinois at Chicago

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Miiri Kotche is a Clinical Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and currently serves as Director of the Medical Accelerator for Devices Laboratory (MAD Lab) at the UIC Innovation Center. Prior to joining the faculty at UIC, she worked in new product development for medical devices, telecommunications and consumer products. She also serves as co-Director of the Freshman Engineering Success Program, and is actively involved in engineering outreach for global health. Miiri received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.S. in General Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

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Jennifer D. Olson University of Illinois at Chicago

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Jennifer Olson is a clinical assistant professor in the College of Education at University of Illinois at Chicago. She coordinates the Secondary Education program and teaches curriculum, instruction, & assessment courses to undergraduate and graduate secondary education students. Jennifer’s research focus on urban high school reform is informed by nine years of teaching in Chicago Public Schools, giving her an informed perspective of how policy moves from theory to practice. Dr. Olson’s current research interests include urban teacher preparation, teacher professional development and student voice. Her most recent publication in Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching and Research Becoming A Culturally Responsive Teacher: The Impact Of Clinical Experiences In Urban Schools focuses on elementary and secondary teacher candidates’ perspectives of how their clinical experiences influence their preparedness in becoming effective culturally responsive educators.

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Darrin Collins University of Illinois at Chicago

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Darrin Collins is a PhD candidate in the department of Math and Science Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Darrin performs research with the Bioengineering Experience for Science Teachers (BEST) Program as a Graduate Assistant. He has also worked as a high school biology and environmental science teacher for over 10 years. Darrin received his B.A. in Environmental Science from Denison University and an M.A.T. from National Louis University.

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This Work in Progress paper discusses the implementation and evolution of the Bioengineering Experience for Science Teachers (BEST) summer program. This program is a joint offering between the College of Engineering and College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago that provides a research experience in a bioengineering lab as well as mentored instruction in curriculum development in order to translate the summer experience to the classroom. The BEST program was developed to provide an authentic engineering research experience for teachers while also providing pedagogical support to contextualize and incorporate the experience into curricular lesson plans. BEST is a paid 6-week professional development program led by faculty in the Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The competitive application process is limited to Chicago Public High School science and mathematics teachers, focusing on educators in one of the largest urban school districts in the country teaching in neighborhood schools, specialized “magnet” schools, selective enrollment schools, military and career academies, and charter schools. Selection of up to eight teachers is based on the quality of the application, a letter of recommendation, from schools serving a diversity of geographic, racial, ethnic and socio-economic students. Applicants rank research labs according to preference, and selected teachers are matched to labs based on preference and alignment to courses they teach. For the duration of the summer program, teachers spend 80% of the time (four days per week) in an engineering research lab and 20% (one day per week) together as a cohort to develop individual curriculum modules relating the research in which they’ve participated to their Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned course outcomes. An important focus of the standards is that teaching of scientific and engineering core content is integrated with teaching the practices of scientists and engineers, but the complex changes inherent with creating curriculum aligned to newly adopted standards have been a challenge for science teachers across the United States. The BEST program provides teachers an experiential opportunity for professional development in engineering practice as well as developing curricula based on these guidelines. The design and assessment of the BEST program was guided by Desimone’s Core Conceptual Framework for assessing the impact of professional development. Preliminary results from the 2019 BEST program indicate positive experiences in the program and an increase in content knowledge and pedagogical skills. These outcomes were facilitated by background research, collaboration, and ongoing feedback, but challenges were associated with the steep learning curve of unfamiliar content, use of engineering software, and adapting to the research environment.

Kotche, M., & Olson, J. D., & Collins, D. (2020, June), WIP: Building the Bioengineering Experience for Science Teachers (BEST) Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35526

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