- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # N/A
- First Name Valorie
- Last Name Hutson
- Institution N/A
- Role/Position SP
- Workshop Category Capacity Building
- Workshop Disciplines Audience Other: Education
- Target Audience Higher Education Institution Administrators, Non-Profit Organization Personnel, School and District Administrators, Undergraduate and/or Graduate Noyce Scholars
- Topics Mutually Beneficial Partnerships with High-Need Schools and Districts
- Session Length 30 minutes
- Additional Presenter(s)
1) Identify key components to create a successful STEM pipeline for underserved students
2) To develop a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of intentional partnerships between teachers, school administration, local and national non-profit organizations to advance STEM in high need schools
K-12 to STEM Careers Pipeline Evaluation (Pilot Program)
The National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers-Eagle Village Science Academy at Westlake Middle School (NOBCChE-EV Academy) was launched in the spring semester of 2016. Through in-class learning and after school programming, students were exposed to the physical, biological and earth sciences tailored to their individualized learning needs. Beyond exposure to an inquiry- based science curriculum, students were offered 1) mentorship, 2) a supportive learning community, 3) networking opportunities with positive role models, and 4) opportunities to develop self-esteem and strong interpersonal skills among others. After a full year of the program, we set out to evaluate the effectiveness of the NOBCChE-EV Academy. Thus, in this review, we are interested in learning about students’ experiences in the program, how the academy benefited students, and about the strengths and weaknesses of various components of the academy. Our goal is to identify critical components of the program in order to advise other agencies interested in establishing NOBCChE-EV academies in their local regions.
Do note, this is an executive summary from a larger report to the Eagle Village Board. A final draft of the report will be made available to the NOBCChE Board in November 2017. Methods Program & Sample The NOBCChE-EV Academy was housed in Westlake Middle School, located in Oakland, California. This accelerated science academy was established through a partnership between Westlake Middle School, Eagle Village Community Center, and the National Organization of the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).
The goals of the academy were to provide underrepresented students with a pathway to complete college with a degree in the sciences by identifying and encouraging middle school scholars interested in science. The students entered the program in the second semester of their sixth-grade year after an extensive application and interview process. At the time of the evaluation, students were completing their seventh-grade year. Twenty-one students participated in the evaluation: 47% of respondents self-identified as female and 42% as male. While 32% of students identified as Asian or Pacific Islander; 27% as multi-racial; 18% Hispanic, Latina/o, or Latinx; 14% as Black or African American, 4% as Native American, and 5% decided not to respond.
This data includes a student survey made up of 53 Likert scale and 15 open-ended questions. The survey was completed by all students, but one, and sought to understand students’ beliefs about science, how science emerged in their everyday experiences, how they perform academically in science courses, and their experiences in the NOBCChE-EV Academy program. In addition to the survey, two focus groups were conducted which allowed students to elaborate on their survey responses.
After an initial review of the open-ended survey data and the focus group transcripts, the data were analyzed using grounded theory and coded inductively (Glasser & Strauss, 1967). The first round of coding resulted in 24 codes. A codebook was developed, used, and modified with additional codes that emerged, as two raters coded the data to establish reliability. In total, there were three rounds of coding to analyze the data. Do note, the data presented here are part of the larger evaluation where academy staff were interviewed, student academic and behavioral data collected, and program documents were analyzed—the focus of this draft of the evaluation, however, is on student input data from the surveys and focus groups.
Results and Conclusions
The evaluation yielded three preliminary findings that will be discussed during the report. The first revealed that the students had an overall positive opinion of the NOBCChE-EV Academy. The second describes how the NOBCChE-EV Academy provided its students with exposure to different types of experiences and opportunities within STEM. The final finding refers to what the students describe as a notable change between the first and second year of the NOBCChE-EV Academy that influenced the everyday programing. Students’ opinions and experiences The students within the academy had a positive opinion of the program and described it as a positive learning experience. In particular, 76% of the students enjoyed participating in the academy. Specifically, the students enjoyed having extra time to do science and to engage with inquiry-based activities and self-guided experiments. The students also enjoyed their internship and appreciated their mentor. Moreover, the students described feeling supported in their academics but also in their own personal development. The NOBCChE-EV Academy offered exposure to students through different types of experiences and opportunities. Most notably, students were exposed to course material that they found interesting, fun, and educative. Seventy-six percent of the NOBCChE-EV participants indicated that the academy helped their understanding of science and benefitted them overall. Students lauded their science courses for exposing them to hands-on experiments that promoted their autonomy and independence from the teacher. The NOBCChE-EV academy also offered science career exposure that included an internship that allowed students to learn about the steps necessary to obtain a science related career. Eighty-six percent of students enjoyed the internship. Additionally, all students were provided with mentors at the internship and 75% of students found the mentors to be helpful and supportive. Students also described the academy as nurturing their desire to learn science (81%) in addition to providing them with academic support in science. Overall the academy provided the students with a variety of benefits.
From the survey and focus group data, students identified several central components of the academy. The students highlighted the importance of the teacher as the main facilitator of the academic programming. They underscored the need for a teacher who is committed and interested in the program and its students. Relatedly, the curriculum (mainly the hands-on experiments and projects within the course material) were central features of what made the program enjoyable. Students highlighted the value of inquiry learning that encouraged them to think independently about a variety of science topics. Third, the internship emerged as an essential component that offered career exposure to the students. It allowed students the opportunity to experience what it feels like to work alongside professionals and learn about a science related company. Lastly, the students appreciated their mentors who they described as nice, helpful, and offered advice on possible career paths.
Areas for growth
The students made it clear that they were eager for more from the NOBCChE-EV academy: more program time, more experiments and projects, and more time at the internship. Given the student interest it would make sense to offer additional time in their internship and science courses. One of the goals of the NOBCChE-EV Academy is to work toward building a pathway from middle school to college. Although the students talked about college by referencing the major they were interested in, it was unclear how the NOBCChE- EV Academy was actively working toward this goal. It would make sense to conduct college workshops as well as to build up existing components while students are in middle school. Lastly, the students noticed a difference in one of their teacher’s ability to provide consistent instruction during the afterschool programming. Unbeknownst to them, the teacher was given an additional leadership role within the school which led to many meetings afterschool that conflicted with the afterschool class. The absence of a teacher who was fully present during the second year of the NOBCChE-EV Academy resulted in inconsistent programing and a decrease in student attendance and participation. Overall the NOBCChE-EV Academy can be described as a successful program, however, its sustainability relies heavily on its partners. The investment of each partner can look different but is imperative in order to ensure high quality programs for the students. Thus, there are tremendous benefit to cultivating investment of old and new partners of the academy.
References Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine Publishing Company
About the Author
This evaluation was conducted by Dr. Alexis Patterson, Assistant Professor in science education at the University of California, Davis’ School of Education. Dr. Patterson’s research lies at the intersection of equity studies, social psychology, and science education. Recent projects have focused on equity issues that arise when students work together on group projects in science and the role social-emotional skills play in facilitating equitable interactions between students. Dr. Patterson is also an Eagle Village Executive Board member. Dr. Patterson would also like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of her graduate research assistant, Yanira Madrigal-Garcia, who has played a central role in the data analysis and preparation of the report. Partnership Opportunity NOBCChE and Eagle Village Community Center has the opportunity to leverage its expertise, knowledge, and educational/professional experience to create a comprehensive STEM pipeline, which is the entry point for students to become STEM professionals and NOBCChE members. This STEM pipeline will include but is not limited to: 1) Nationwide science academies 2) Mentorships 3) Internship placement 4) College readiness 5) College retention, and 6) Career guidance and connections. Through this partnership, NOBCChE and Eagle Village Community Center will ensure that this comprehensive model is set up for success and one that is scalable and repeatable in and out of the United States. BACKGROUND INFORMATION I was the Founder/Executive Director for Eagle Village Community Center for 18 years.
I recently voluntarily dissolved the organization. Currently, I am an Educational Consultant who provides capacity building and technical assistance to K-12 schools, colleges and universites, local and national organizations. Formerly, Eagle Village Community Center (EVCC) was established in 2001 at Westlake Middle School (Westlake), located in Oakland, California under the guise of federal, state, and city grants: Healthy Start, 21stCentury Community Learning Centers, and Oakland Fund for Children and Youth. EVCC and Westlake worked in partnership to address specific issues of low academic performance, poverty, and violence among Westlake students and their families. They utilized the Community School framework, which by definition, “is a place and a set of partnerships between a school and other community resources, with an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leading to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities”, Coalition for Community Schools (2011). To this end, Westlake was transformed from a stand-alone public school to a full-service community school, that offered, free of charge, academic, mental health care, and family services to students and their families. Thus, Westlake students and their families had access to a one-stop hub, that provided them with a wide array of public and community services on campus, rather than having to navigate support on their own. The Legacy of Eagle Village Community Center at Westlake: Through the partnerships between Westlake and other local and national organizations, over 600,000 hours of after school programming services was provided to Westlake students, over 1400 students received one on one and group counseling, and daily family support services were provided to Westlake families, which played a vital role in affecting the vitality of the Oakland community.
It is vital that K-12 public schools provide high quality instruction, expanded learning opportunities, family engagement and support, and behavioral health services to meet the holistic needs of students and families. Many students in high need school districts face severe challenges that include persistent poverty, low academic performance, high truancy, and exposure to urban crime and violence. Hence, a call out for the mobilization, coordination, and refocusing of district resources to support student success is critical. This is true and urgent. However, many public-school districts suffer from annual budget cuts. To ensure students are prepared for college and careers, coordinated and integrated efforts by schools, families, organizations, and the larger community can transform a school culture and climate to counter inequitable outcomes for students, specifically the underrepresented population. Collaborative partnerships are the catalyst to strengthening the school to career pipeline. Moreover, it is the critical response to the barriers that prevent underrepresented students from reaching their educational and career goals. This workshop will introduce participants to a collaborative partnership framework to advance K-12 to STEM education and career success. You will walk away with concrete strategies for developing effective internal and external relationships within your school community and the larger community as well as tools to help you create a STEM pipeline model of your own.