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Contextualized Math Course Aims to Break Barriers to STEM Careers

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Indian River State College graduates Tyrone Joseph (left) and Hykeem Spencer (right) were among the students who successfully completed the contextualized math course developed by Kevin Cooper (center), principal investigator of the Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training (RCNET).

The high percentage of students who succeeded in the contextualized remedial math course that the Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training (RCNET) created for students in the electric power technology program  at Indian River State College (IRSC) has led college leaders to broaden its reconfiguration of college-level algebra.

This fall 150 engineering technology students—most of them new to the program at the Fort Pierce, Florida, community college—will take the redesigned math course that teaches trigonometry, statistics, and algebra in the context of STEM technician careers. The new course replaces the college-level algebra course that has historically stymied students, particularly African-American males.

“This is one of the few things that has moved the needle,” said Kevin Cooper, referring to the increase in enrollment and persistence of minority students in the electric power technology program at IRSC. Cooper is principal investigator of RCNET and assistant dean of Advanced Technology at IRSC. Before a highly engaged audience of 50 educators, Cooper talked about how to eliminate math as a barrier to entry and success in technical fields on July 25 at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) in Miami, Florida.

Cooper, an RCNET industry partner, and students talk about the contextualized math course in this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU5aUQZN73M

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From the Archive: Workforce Education at our Community Colleges: What Works?

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In addition to the STEM curriculum and professional development materials that ATE grantees create in large volume, some members of the community also conduct research, compile reports, and share their findings with the broader STEM community. In this month’s From the Archive blog post, we highlight the work of three ATE projects and centers that have produced insightful publications that address such areas as program evaluation, educational reform, and recruitment and retention of minority students. These resources represent only a few of the assorted research reports, articles, and best practice guides created by ATE grantees; for more reports, check out the links below or try browsing our reference materials by resource type.

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 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 reports by Community College Partnership’s Instructional Impacts, visit the ATE Central Archive.

Career Pathways for STEM Technicians

This 307-page Career Pathways for STEM Technicians PDF book offers a practical solution to America's technician shortage in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Career Pathways for STEM Technicians was written and compiled by Dan Hull, Executive Director of the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC), with twenty-two contributors, including eight chapters from different STEM technology fields.

The book presents a solution to two problems: 1) there are not enough technicians to support continued technological innovation or to staff the organizations that could improve America's security and economic position in the world; and 2) there are not enough adequate educational opportunities for students interested in entering careers as technicians. This book "outlines the need and presents information required for an educational reform that will prepare more young people for meaningful and exciting careers in numerous fields that employ lasers and optics technology."

To learn more about by Career Pathways for STEM Technicians, visit the ATE Central Resource Portal.

Minority Recruiting and Retention Executive Summary

This 8-page report, created by the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC), provides a summary of strategies and best practices for recruiting and retaining under-served student populations. These strategies and best practices were pulled from a variety of websites, reports, and articles and organized into clear categories. This resource was designed to provide an at-a-glance overview of ways a program can strengthen recruitment and retention.

For more archived resources by the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC), visit the ATE Central Archive.

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ATE Impacts 2018-2019: 25 Years of Advancing Technician Education is Available

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In ATE Impacts 2018-2019 Hilda Arguelles (right), a senior structures discipline manager in Pratt &Whitney’s Global Services Engineering, describes how Karen Wosczyna-Birch’s first ATE grant 20 years ago influenced her career. Wosczyna-Birch (left) is principal investigator of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

This month ATE Impacts 2018-2019: 25 Years of Advancing Technician Education rolls off the presses for mass distribution to centers and projects around the nation, and to attendees of the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) that begins July 25 in Miami.

The book showcases the work of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education community and celebrates the 25th anniversary of the program.  In addition to the summaries of ATE projects’ and centers’ activities and outcomes, the new book has an article that offers a snapshot of the ATE program’s influence on students’ careers.

The article features Karen Wosczyna-Birch, principal investigator and executive director of the ATE-funded Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), discovering how the first ATE project grant she received nearly 20 years ago influenced the career of Hilda Arguelles, one of her students.

The two women reconnected at the 2018 Connecticut Technology Council Women of Innovation® Awards ceremony. Both women had been nominated as statewide innovators.

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Brookings Report - Learning About Learning: Meaning Matters

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This new report from the Brookings Institute outlines effective and non-effective learning strategies in educational settings from kindergarten through college. From data gathered by a study conducted by the Knowledge Matters Campaign, it’s deduced that interactive, hands-on learning, regardless of the educational material or concept, is a much more effective learning strategy than traditional, passive instruction.  

Professor Noah Finklestein, of the Physics Department at the University of Colorado, conducted research on learning attitudes and student beliefs and structures his classroom around those findings.  This research suggests that college students usually learn less than 25 percent of basic concepts that they did not already know in introductory physics courses. Furthermore, the students do not see the relevance of the content to their lives. Finkelstein coordinates classroom material to be in an “interactive-engagement” style of learning, where students work in small groups and apply the content in computer simulations and hands-on activities. The data show that student-learning outcomes of the most seasoned lecturers are equal to the lowest performing interactive-engagement classrooms, and when done well, the interactive-engagement format vastly outperforms the top lecturers with students learning more than double the physics content.

The report compares this research with early childhood education methods. Researchers Molly Welsh Chilston and Linnea C. Ehri published their findings on research done on vocabulary learning with third graders. They taught third graders six unfamiliar verbs presented in either a coherent context—like a birthday party—or as a set of matched but unconnected contexts. Children learned more of the words when they were nested within a theme than when they were more independent. This hard evidence suggests that using a hands-on, interactive approach to learning greatly enhances the probability of actually remembering what you’re learning. 

ATE projects and centers may find this report of use when considering classroom activities or how to incorporate an interactive-engagement lesson into a curriculum.

Please visit the Brookings Institute to view the report in full.   

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POWER Careers Project Seeks to Transform Women’s Lives with Energy Careers

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Monique Gallegos, a nuclear processing technician, is one of several women featured on a POWER Careers YouTube video.

Two women alumni of the ESTEC program at Idaho State University credit the POWER Careers project with helping them persist in the rigorous academic program that prepared them to become nuclear processing technicians at Fluor Idaho, LLC.

“The skills that they brought with them coming out of this program—they had a high degree of math aptitude—that really gave them the foot through the door,” said Shannon Bowman, human resources manager at Fluor Idaho. Another plus for Monique Gallegos and Samantha Phillips was “the fact that they were very familiar with different types of energy generation, and that they had exposure through the ESTEC program to terminology that’s typically used in the nuclear industry.”

In a Power Careers video Gallegos, Phillips, and other women talk candidly about their academic pursuits and careers. Providing Opportunities for Women in Energy Related (POWER) Careers is an ATE project that is testing strategies to recruit and retain women for the five associate degree programs offered by the Energy Systems Technology and Education Center (ESTEC) at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.  

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  • engineering
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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.

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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.”

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  • 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. 

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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.

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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.

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