Icon for: Cassie Xu

CASSIE XU

Early Engagement in Research: Key to STEM retention
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: William McHenry

    William McHenry

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2017 | 01:08 p.m.

    This was an innovative video where very few words were spoken. The author relied on infographic to present the program. The early engagement strategy has merit. The target population should greatly benefit from early involvement. The impact on these populations is significant. How will you determine success?

     
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  • Icon for: Cassie Xu

    Cassie Xu

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 11:49 a.m.

    Our principal evaluation method is to maintain a database of participants and inquire as to whether and where the attend college, what majors they have elected, and how they assess the impact of the Program.  We also administer a formative and summative pair of instruments that assess students’ knowledge of scientific methods; their understanding of science as a process; and their self-efficacy in scientific learning.  And we track their production of professional quality research, as reflected in students’ research artifacts and acceptance of their submissions to professional science meetings.

    Our goals are that:

    • All of our high school students attend college, preferably a 4-year institution, including receipt of financial aid to facilitate completion. 
    • A significant fraction of the students major in science, math or engineering.
    • A fraction of the students attend graduate programs in science, engineering or mathematics. 
    • Students build their sense of their own abilities to explore and integrate new material, build a sense of entitlement and “place” in the world beyond their neighborhoods, and become more informed and critical participants in civic culture. 
     
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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 15, 2017 | 02:57 p.m.

    Very appealing, and I am not surprised that the benefits are so great for the participants. How do students get to participate? and  What does "scale up" mean in this context?  Do you envision a centrally-coordinated program across mutliple states, or a model that is implemented from multiple centers?

     
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  • Icon for: Cassie Xu

    Cassie Xu

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 11:52 a.m.

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the comments/questions!

    Can you elaborate on how do students get to participate? Are you thinking about recruitment/applications?

    As for scale-up, we're looking to set up clusters similar to the one that we have, where there is an academic institution as the lead, a field site, a network of schools to recruit students from, a community organization partner (i.e. a museum), and a private foundation. Our pilot is in the process of setting up 6 additional clusters in the New York metro area and the Lower Hudson Valley. Each cluster ranges between 4-6 partner organizations. The 6 clusters could eventually mean that 12 additional research programs like ours will emerge.

    C.

     
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  • Icon for: Jake Foster

    Jake Foster

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 03:46 p.m.

    This project takes me back a number of years to an effort I was involved in that engaged K-12 teachers in similar wetland studies. It reminds me the importance of thinking about STEM teaching as a STEM career -- too many STEM educators leave teacher preparation without actual STEM investigation experience; many have had lots of content coursework but few know what it means to actually inquire in science, engineering, or mathematics. To provide such experiences for STEM students requires -- as you know well -- thinking carefully about the learning experiences provided in higher education. Has this project helped to transform STEM instruction in the participating higher education institutions?

     
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  • Icon for: Cassie Xu

    Cassie Xu

    Presenter
    May 16, 2017 | 04:21 p.m.

    Hi Jake, I wouldn't say it has transformed STEM instruction with our partners in higher education institutions. I can say that they are in the room because they understand the value of what you've pointed out, and that a lot of STEM educators don't necessary have that investigation experience. I think we want to see STEM instruction in higher education institutions have elements of our program for high school students, and that undergraduate and graduate students continue to get exposed to these authentic research and mentoring experiences that lets them learn true scientific inquiry.

    C.

     
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  • Icon for: Heidi Schweingruber

    Heidi Schweingruber

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2017 | 10:46 p.m.

    I really like the structure that puts teachers, secondary students and college students together in the program. How are participants identified/ recruited? Do you work through particular high schools? Are you trying to reach particular populations of students and if so, how do you do that?  How many teachers and students have participated in the program thus far. I think the numbers in the video referred to how many participate each summer, but I wasn't sure how many summers you've run the program. In terms of impact, I'm particularly interested in whether you have any data/insights into how the experience is affecting the teachers. 

     
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  • Icon for: Cassie Xu

    Cassie Xu

    Presenter
    May 17, 2017 | 11:26 a.m.

    Hi Heidi, this summer, we'll have about 55 high school students, 15 undergraduates, and 8-10 teachers. About 75% of the high school spots are kept for partner schools we work with in NYC (all non-exam and all public), the additional 25% of the spots are available for students who apply who are not from those partnering schools. We're trying to reach under-represented groups in STEM, for us that means Hispanic and African-American students, predominantly female. The schools we work with are very diverse and are made up of our target audience, so reaching them is quite seamless. I believe we've reached over 300 high school students. With teachers, likely in the 40-50 range. Many of our high school students come back to serve as undergraduate leaders and many of our teachers return as well. Teachers are not our primary focus in the program, in the sense that this is a learning experience for them and they are students just like the high school kids. We don't track the teachers as closely as the students but we do know that all of the teachers who have come through the program have stayed in teaching, and particularly in STEM subjects, so we think the program is making an impact on the retention of teachers. The teachers have also started new curriculum development projects while they're on campus with other scientists, since they have access to world-renowned researchers. We do think this is an interesting spin-off we weren't anticipating and I believe it's playing an important role in not only retaining educators in STEM, but to ensure that educators can connect the latest science research to classroom learning.

     
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