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WIP: Teacher Leader Engineering Network (TaLENt): A Collective Impact Model for K-12 Engineering Teacher Leaders

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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 10

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Christina Anlynette Alston Rice University Orcid 16x16

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As Associate Director for Science and Engineering of the Rice Office of STEM Engagement, Christina leads the NanoEnvironmental Engineering for Teachers program. In this capacity, she guides Houston area secondary science teachers in weekly meetings on Rice’s campus to “best practices” in educational pedagogy.

She currently has a B.S. in Biology from Texas A and M Corpus Christi, an M.S.Ed from the University of Houston, and is a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston studying Urban Education.

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Carolyn Nichol Rice University

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Dr. Carolyn Nichol is a Faculty Fellow in Chemistry and the Director of the Rice Office of STEM Engagement (R-STEM). R-STEM provides teacher professional development to elementary and secondary teachers in science and math content and pedagogy, while also providing STEM outreach to the Houston Community. Dr. Nichol’s research interests are in science education and science policy. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, and served as a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Pharmacy at UT Austin. Prior to joining Rice University, she worked at Boehringer Ingelheim on innovative drug delivery systems and she was an Assistant Professor in Diagnostic Radiology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she conducted research on nonviral gene therapy systems. At Rice University she has developed and taught courses in The Department of Bioengineering including Numerical Methods, Pharmaceutical Engineering, Systems Physiology, Biomaterials and Advances in BioNanotechnology.

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Robert Wimpelberg University of Houston

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Dr. Robert (Bob) Wimpelberg is the Founder and Executive Director of All Kids Alliance at the University of Houston where he is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the College of Education.

After 19 years in university administration and 50 years in education, Bob is dedicating his encore career to working with non-profits and funders interested in community-level collective impact. Through All Kids Alliance, Bob helps organizations pay particular attention to effective collaborative action and commitment to continuous quality improvement.

Bob graduated from Yale University and taught in public schools in St. Louis County, Missouri. Following doctoral work at the University of Chicago, he joined the faculty at Tulane University and later moved to the University of New Orleans. Bob has been at the University of Houston since 2000.

Bob was a founding member of the National Leadership Advisory Board of the StriveTogether Network during its affiliation with the KnowledgeWorks Foundation (Cincinnati). He is currently a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum (Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter) and is serving on the Executive Committee of its Board of Trustees.

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Jean S. Larson Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Jean Larson, Ph.D., is the Educational Director for the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG), and Assistant Research Professor in both the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Technology, postgraduate training in Computer Systems Engineering, and many years of experience teaching and developing curriculum in various learning environments. She has taught technology integration and teacher training to undergraduate and graduate students at Arizona State University, students at the K-12 level locally and abroad, and various workshops and modules in business and industry. Dr. Larson is experienced in the application of instructional design, delivery, evaluation, and specializes in eLearning technologies for training and development. Her research focuses on the efficient and effective transfer of knowledge and learning techniques, innovative and interdisciplinary collaboration, and strengthening the bridge between K-12 learning and higher education in terms of engineering content.

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Alison Cook-Davis Arizona State University

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Dr. Alison Cook-Davis is Assistant Director for Program Evaluation at the Arizona State University’s Office of Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness (UOEEE). She has a BA in Psychology, MS in Social Psychology, MLS Legal Studies, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology. Prior to joining UOEEE, she supported the research and program evaluation efforts of Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, coordinated and executed the research and program evaluation for a large Department of Justice Second Chance Act grant. These efforts included monitoring, assessing, and evaluating the impacts of program outcomes. Since joining the UOEEE in 2015, Dr. Cook-Davis has led research and evaluation activities for over 50 separate grant-funded programs or initiatives funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, and The Kern Family Foundation. These projects have focused on the evaluation of student success, outreach impacts, innovative learning techniques, and STEM-related interventions and curricula.

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The Teacher Leader Engineering Network (TaLENt) is a working group with the overarching goal of increasing the number of Black, Native American, Hispanic, and female students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees. Teacher leaders are needed to increase and broaden participation through the means of developing strategies conducive to improving the quality of K-12 STEM education. However, the criteria for quality teaching in K-12 engineering are ill-defined. This Work in Progress paper details TaLENt’s ongoing project situated in the context of bringing together stakeholders in K-12 engineering education from across the country to broaden participation in engineering, define the criteria for quality teaching in engineering, and develop metrics with indicators to support current and future K-12 engineering teachers.

TaLENt leverages the NSF’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) programs which includes 15 RET K-12 teachers from across the U.S., Engineering Research Center (ERC) faculty and staff (University 1 and University 2), and project management support drawing on the practices of “collective impact” (Nonprofit at University 3). Each TaLENt grade-level team (elementary, middle, and high school) collaborates through a series of monthly online meetings to develop a set of common criteria and posit measurable indicators to determine if the criteria are met.

The development of teaching goals guides the creation of the criteria and indicators. Thus far, we have learned that each grade-level team has unique goals and expectations for engineering instruction. For example, the elementary team has focused on the need for students to master the social skills needed to work within diverse groups to isolate a problem and design possible solutions. At the high school level, the working group ascertained that it was important to develop both stand-alone diversity-specific criteria to build awareness in the field, as well as embedded practices creating a culture of inclusion within their engineering projects.

The final deliverables will be available and distributed for use by K-12 engineering teachers across the country, as well as ERCs who support RET programs. TaLENt derived resources will offer guidance on how to infuse classroom teaching with engineering best practices with a focus on teachers who support underrepresented minority students on their journey to becoming STEM professionals.

Alston, C. A., & Nichol, C., & Wimpelberg, R., & Larson, J. S., & Cook-Davis, A. (2020, June), WIP: Teacher Leader Engineering Network (TaLENt): A Collective Impact Model for K-12 Engineering Teacher Leaders Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35573

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