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From the Archive: Evaluation and Review of STEM Programs

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A special thanks to our practicum student, Xiuyuan He, for contributing this month’s From the Archive blog post. Xiuyuan is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool.

Evaluation is a process that critically assesses a program by gathering and analyzing data on a program’s design, implementation, and results. It assesses the program from different aspects, such as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability. This month, From the Archive highlights materials on evaluation and review processes for STEM education programs; these materials may be useful to evaluators, educators, and administrators alike.

The first resource includes a set of tools offered by the Evaluation Resource Center for Advanced Technological Education (EvaluATE) for different stages of the evaluation process. The second resource from SRI International provides a framework for Workforce Education Implementation Evaluation (WEIE). The last resource, from the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (FLATE) and the Consortium for Alabama Regional Center for Automotive Manufacturing (CARCAM), offers useful insights into program and curriculum review in advanced technology education fields.

Evaluation Worksheets

This is a set of tools offered by EvaluATE for different phases of evaluation, including planning, data collection, and impact evaluation.

  • This worksheet, titled “Identifying Stakeholders and Their Roles in an Evaluation,” provides a systematic process for identifying stakeholders from four aspects of evaluation, including utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy. The worksheet also cross validates the process by identifying how the stakeholders affect a program and the types of involvement they have in the evaluation.
  • This worksheet serves as a tool to aid in the development of an evaluation plan for a project. Users are encouraged to consider indicators, data sources, data collection methods, responsible parties, timing, and analysis for each evaluation question. The worksheet also includes definitions of terms used in the Data Collection Planning Matrix. 
  • This collection, including a worksheet titled “Identifying Your NSF Project’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts,” was developed by EvaluATE for the 22nd ATE Principal Investigator's Conference. The worksheet can be used to assist project leaders and evaluators in identifying the range of a project's achievements.

For more archived resources offered by EvaluATE, visit the ATE Central Archive.

A Framework for Evaluating Implementation of Workforce Education Partnerships and Programs

This 10-page research brief from SRI International covers research on community college workforce educational implementation in five industries and geographic regions. This research, done by SRI International's Education Division, resulted in the Workforce Education Implementation Evaluation (WEIE), "a framework for evaluating hard-to-measure aspects of the design, development, and delivery of workforce education partnerships and programs." The brief contains information about the rationale for the WEIE approach, how it works, the labor market context, partnership quality found in the research, identifying the roles of the partners, monitoring of the four key partnership strategies, information about research methods, and the implications of the WEIE framework. 

For more archived resources offered by SRI, visit the ATE Central Archive.

Best Practices Guide to Statewide Curriculum and Degree Program Review Processes

This best practices guide from the FLATE Center of Excellence and CARCAM emphasizes the advantages of and need for statewide curricula in advanced technology education fields. The guide describes the Alabama Process Model used by CARCAM as well as the similar Florida Process Model utilized by FLATE to ensure programs are educating students to meet industry needs and state educational standards. Appendices to the guide offer a gap analysis management checklist as well as a sample of Florida's survey form and a summary of their curriculum framework.

For more archived resources offered by FLATE and CARCAM, visit the ATE Central Archive.

Categories:
  • education

ATE-Affiliated Automotive Technology Program Attracts Tesla’s Attention

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Eleven of the 12 students (four women and eight men) in the first cohort of Tesla START trainees at Rio Hondo College will complete the 12-week certification program this month. The one student who had to stop out for personal reasons is expected to be in the next cohort of START trainees.

This month Rio Hondo College in Whittier, CA, will graduate it first cohort of automotive technicians from its new Tesla START program. Rio Hondo and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, are the first U.S. sites for the 12-week Tesla certification program that teaches automotive technicians about electric vehicles and Tesla-specific repair procedures.

Professor John Frala, alternative fuel technology instructor at Rio Hondo, attributes Tesla’s decision to locate its program at Rio Hondo to the innovations he has been able to introduce with support from two National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grants. The official ribbon-cutting of the 4,000-square-foot Tesla training center with upgraded equipment and six Tesla vehicles is scheduled for May 23.

A Tesla spokesperson did not address the ATE connection. But via email provided this statement: “We’re working with some of the best automotive education programs in the country to educate students on electric vehicle technology and our unique approach to customer service to prepare them for a career at Tesla. Students graduate with a job opportunity, certification, and the skills necessary to succeed in the growing electric vehicle industry.”

Categories:
  • education
  • environment
  • science
  • technology

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Pew Research Center Report: The Future of Well-Being in a Tech Saturated World

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This recently-published Pew Research Center Report discusses some of the attitudes of Americans in the continuously evolving world of technology and how technology impacts our lives. In particular, the report focuses on benefits, harms, and possible remedies to digital life through respondent interviews and a “canvassing of experts.” In the report, we learn that among those surveyed, 47% of respondents predict that individuals’ well-being will be more helped than harmed by digital life in the next decade and 32% say people’s well-being will be more harmed than helped. The remaining 21% predict there will not be much change in people’s well-being compared to now.

Themes expressed from respondents range from optimism toward global connectivity to dangers of digital addiction, to ideas on how to redesign media literacy. One respondent, Daniel Weitzner (principal research scientist and founding director of MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative), said of digital connectivity: “Human beings want and need connection, and the internet is the ultimate connection machine. Whether on questions of politics, community affairs, science, education, romance or economic life, the internet does connect people with meaningful and rewarding information and relationships... I have to feel confident that we can continue to gain fulfillment from these human connections.” Others expressed a more cautious outlook on how technology can, in a sense, take over our lives. David S.H. Rosenthal, retired chief scientist of the LOCKSS Program at Stanford University, said, “The digital economy is based upon competition to consume humans’ attention. This competition has existed for a long time, but the current generation of tools for consuming attention is far more effective than previous generations.”

Many respondents reported ideas for mitigating the diverse set of issues that go along with living a digital life, such as appropriate technology education and reevaluating our expectations. Alex Halavais, director of the M.A. in social technologies program at Arizona State University, said, “The primary change needs to come in education. From a very early age, people need to understand how to interact with networked, digital technologies. They need to learn how to use social media, and learn how not to be used by it.”

To read this engrossing and interesting report in full, please visit the Pew Research Center’s website. In the report, readers also have the opportunity to read the detailed section entitled, "About this canvassing of experts," to see who was canvassed and what questions they were asked. 

Categories:
  • culture
  • education
  • technology

Telesummit Offers Easy Way to Learn Recruitment & Retention Strategies

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Broward College students, faculty, administrators, and staff worked together on a hackathon in October 2017. The hackathon and Women Who Code club are among the recruitment and retention activities the college in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, initiated as a result of iWITTS’ WomenTech Educators Online Training.

Eight experts on student recruitment and retention including Donna Johnson, whose Guaranteed 4.0 study skills method that has helped many students succeed, will be featured in the 2018 STEM Success for Women Telesummit.  

The free online conference that aims to empower educators to recruit and retain more women in STEM will air for two hours each day on April 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 with the support of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program. To register for the telesummit go to http://www.iwitts.org/stem-telesummit#register.

Mark Evans is one of six community college educators who will provide a “boots-on-the-ground perspective” of effective practices for recruiting and retaining women in STEM programs at two-year colleges. Evans credits iWITTS’s  WomenTech Educators Online Training and coaching from Donna Milgram, iWITTS executive director, with helping him attain 45% female enrollment (63 of 140 students are women this semester) in the Emerging Technology associate degree program at Athens Technical College in Athens, Georgia.

Categories:
  • education
  • science
  • technology

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From the Archive: Biotechnology Resources for the College Classroom

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We are pleased to share Biotechnology Resources for the College Classroom, the first post in our new From the Archive blog series. Each From the Archive blog post will highlight a few selected resources from the ATE Central resource portal to further promote the work of the ATE community. This month, we’re highlighting the work of three ATE projects and centers that have created a wide variety of presentations, lessons, activities, course outlines, and more. These resources illustrate the breadth and depth of the biotechnology curriculum represented in the ATE Central resource portal and may be useful to STEM educators across bio and chemical technology sectors.

ATEP Biotechnology Module A & Module B Courses

Stored as Moodle backup files, these courses may be uploaded to a user’s own learning management system (LMS) or accessed online via the URLs provided. The content of each course, which has been made available to users under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, may be shared or adapted to meet the user’s specific classroom needs. Explore these modules for teacher notes, rubrics, lessons, student activities and assignments, labs, quizzes, and other learning resources.

  • In Biotechnology Module A, a course developed by Articulated Technological Education Pathways (ATEP), students are introduced to the fields of biotechnology and engineering. Students will also discover how science, technology, and engineering come together to help solve problems; explore different fields of biotechnology and its applications in everyday life; review basic biology and engineering principles; create an artificial source of insulin; work as a team to design, build, test, and evaluate a bioreactor; and use technology to solve problems.
  • In Biotechnology Module B, students use tools and skills introduced in Module A. In this module, students will design a bioreactor for producing microbial proteins, describe the parameters that can be altered to affect microbial growth and product formation, and identify methods for detecting the presence of enzymes.

For more archived resources by Articulated Technological Education Pathways (ATEP), visit the ATE Central resource portal.

Course-in-a-Box

Bio-Link offers a number of Course-in-a-Box resources intended for instructors to adapt and introduce into new courses. These collections of resources have been compiled and contributed by instructors of Bio-Link programs. Resources may include course descriptions, student outcomes, schedules, reading assignments, laboratory exercises, lecture materials, homework, classroom activities, exams, and videos. Check out these sample Courses-in-a-Box or click on the link below for even more options to explore. ATE community members who are interested in using a Course-in-a-Box may sign up for a free Bio-Link membership and gain access to additional instructor materials.

For more archived “Courses-in-a-Box” offered by Bio-Link: Educating the BioTechnology Workforce, visit the ATE Central resource portal.

Biotechnology I & II Course Outlines

The ATE Central resource portal houses an assortment of syllabi and other course outlines, which faculty members may find useful in designing or structuring their courses. Below are two examples from Increasing the Student Biotech Pipeline—a project focused on developing academic pathways and curricula in biotechnology leading to stackable certificates and an Associate of Science degree. These outlines may serve as examples for others looking to offer similar programs.

  • In Biotechnology I, taught at Los Angeles Mission College, "students examine the fundamentals of cellular and molecular biology and are introduced to basic biotechnology laboratory skills, including documentation, safety, solution and buffer preparation, quality control and bioethics. Students develop proficiency in aseptic technique, spectrophotometry, microscopy, and centrifugation."
  • In Biotechnology II"students are introduced to modern molecular biology techniques, including nucleic acid isolation, recombinant DNA techniques, cell transformation, recombinant DNA analysis, nucleic acid hybridization, and DNA sequence analysis. Students explore the production and purification of proteins using biochemical techniques such as immunochemistry and chromatography."

For more archived resources by Increasing the Student Biotech Pipeline, visit the ATE Central resource portal.

Categories:
  • science
  • technology

Team Approach & Planning for Great Photos

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Overall, the SFAz+8 colleges have seen significant year-to-year increases in the STEM student pipeline in their outreach programs, early college programs, internships, and degree and certificate program enrollments and completions.

When developing STEM outreach activities the task of obtaining high quality photos for use in online or print publications is often such a low priority that photos are forgotten completely or snapped quickly with a smart phone.

The resulting images may provide evidence that an event happened but lack the pop that can engage audiences’ attention in the important work that educators do.  

After submitting multiple first-rate photos for the ATE Impacts 2018-2019 publication, which will be published this year by Internet Scout Research Group (home to ATE Central), Regina Abraham shared the following tips for obtaining great photos and making sure the college has signed photos release forms from the people in them:

  • Arrange in advance for a professional photographer to work at the event.
  • Have participants or, in the case of minors, their parents sign photo releases when they register for the event.
  • Use color coding on participants’ name tags to indicate those who are willing to be photographed.
  • Provide clear directions to the photographer about who can be photographed.  
  • Announce when media professionals are present so that individuals who do not want to be photographed can move out of camera range for a few minutes.
Categories:
  • education
  • engineering
  • media
  • science
  • technology

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Brookings Report: For better learning in college lectures, lay down the laptop and pick up a pen

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When taking notes in a classroom, is it better use a laptop or write them out on paper? Surprisingly, a new Brookings report shows that students who note-take by hand earn better grades than those who opt to use a laptop during a lecture. Furthermore, evidence points to students actually learning less when using a laptop during class than their classmates who do not. 

Researchers at Princeton and the University of California, Los Angeles carried out a randomized experiment with a group of students. Randomly assigned either a laptop or pen and paper to take notes, the researchers had students watch a lecture and then take a standardized test. The test results showed that students using laptops scored substantially worse. 

Why is this? Researchers hypothesize that, because we can type faster than we can write, words basically bypass major cognitive processing in the brain. In contrast, when taking notes by hand, the brain has to process and condense the material before we put pen to paper, which results in a better understanding of the content of the lecture. In the experiment performed by researchers, the laptop notes more closely resembled transcripts while hand-written notes resembled summaries of the lecture. 

It was also determined that using a laptop during class is distracting to other classmates. In one of the studies outlined in the report, students were randomly assigned short tasks to perform while in class during a lecture, such as looking up movie times or going on Facebook. It was found that content on the laptop visible to other students served as enough of a distraction to lower test scores of students near those who were multi-tasking by 11%. In addition, students who were near those who were multitasking on their laptops scored 17 % lower on the comprehension section of the test. 

View the full report at the Brookings Institute site for more information and to read about additional experiments. 
 

Agriculture Enrollment Grows with Strategic Restructuring at Snow College

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A Snow College agriculture student uses a drone to check the dispersal of water from GPS-controlled sprinkler heads on a center pivot irrigation system.

When the number of agriculture (Ag) majors dropped to six in 2011, Snow College (Ephraim, Utah) leaders considered closing the department. Instead they revamped it to focus on agriculture business skills for family farmers.

By adding agriculture-related advanced technology content to existing STEM courses with the goal of helping small farmers run their operations efficiently, the college has restructured its agriculture offerings with the addition of twelve courses and two faculty members. Students have responded enthusiastically to the change. In fall 2017, 181 students took agriculture courses and Snow College had 128 declared agriculture majors.  

“To me it’s looking at the pieces of the puzzle, and re-configuring those pieces into programs,” said Jay Olsen, director of Agriculture and Farm/Ranch Management at Snow College.

Categories:
  • agriculture
  • education
  • science
  • technology

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ATE Central’s 2018 Spring Sustainability Webinar Series

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Sustainability is a critical topic for ATE grantees. Whether you are part of a small project just starting out, or working with a well-seasoned center that has been funded for a decade, considering sustainability at every stage will strengthen the odds of ensuring deliverables and activities continue to be available for the long haul.

To help support project and center sustainability planning and activities, and in collaboration with ITHAKA S&R, ATE Central has been offering webinars and workshops each year on an array of sustainability-related topics. This season, Rachael Bower from ATE Central and Nancy Maron, from BlueSky to BluePrint, will focus on topics useful to centers and projects at all stages of growth. This series addresses three critical angles – first, a basic “health check” to see how your project or center is faring today; second, strategies for moving forward, with a refreshed set of goals and priorities; and finally, taking to heart the need to plan for changes concerning the most valuable asset any project has: its people.

Categories:
  • engineering
  • science
  • technology

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Alumni Talk about the Benefits of Community College Research Projects

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St. Paul College alumni Brandon Young, Tasha Spencer, and Megan McDonald identified many positive aspects of conducting authentic research while enrolled in the Science Instrumentation Technician program at the Minnesota community college. They shared their research findings at the 2017 ATE Principal Investigators Conference.

Nanotech research helped three Saint Paul College alumni move closer to their STEM career goals.

Saint Paul College students who enroll in the Science Instrumentation Technician associate degree program at the Minnesota Community and Technical College have the opportunity to work on authentic research projects thanks to the collaborative with industry the college formed with the support of a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant. (DUE #136157)

Categories:
  • education
  • science
  • technology

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