Fertilizing ROSES through the STEM: Interdisciplinary Modules as Pre-service Research Experiences for Secondary STEM Educators (IMPRESS-Ed)
IMPRESS-Ed provides an enriching STEM-oriented summer research experience in the space, earth, and atmospheric sciences for pre-service K-12 educators. This project is designed to give future teachers specialized training in research techniques in the physical sciences and in pedagogical techniques for teaching science, and to provide participants with an authentic research experience. Students participate in a two-week common module composed of interactive lectures and activities followed by a mentored research experience with physics faculty conducting research related to NASA missions.
A quality group of pre-service STEM educators are to be recruited, with an emphasis on recruiting participants from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in STEM education. Those participants should take part in the common module of the program and then be successfully individually mentored in an authentic research project. Weekly group meetings should be held during which the students should report on the status of their work. All students should present the results at the conclusion of the program at a college-wide research symposium and potentially at a relevant national conference.
The common module features a variety of activities with an emphasis on building up the participant’s knowledge base in the Earth and Space Sciences and research methods to prepare them for the mentored research experience. These activities included special lectures on active research efforts with the Hubble Space Telescope, observing sessions with a NASA-Radio Jove telescope and visualization of 3D geophysical data with a GEOWALL imaging system. The common module also featured activity related to science pedagogy with an emphasis on techniques for bringing cutting edge research into the classroom and novel approaches to enhance students learning. Some activities included use of the Zooniverse website, use of Stellarium software in combination with training in the operation of an onsite planetarium, and a lab activity using real-time experimental tornado nowcasting. Students also launched a weather balloon which was retrieved near the New Jersey Coastline and visited to geologically significant sites in the New Jersey area. Special emphasis was given to leveraging NASA-sponsored educational resources including:
- Kepler education material and website
- NASA Radio Jove lesson plans
- Center for Astronomy Education website and materials
The Common Module is followed by the Mentored Research Experience. Here is a sampling of past projects:
- NASA “A-train” satellite data used to study the overshooting tops of tornadic thunderstorms. The goal of this project is to help reduce the false alarm rating in tornado warnings.
- NASA Extragalactic Database (NED) used to determine the fraction of galaxies that house active galactic nuclei (AGN) as well as their density at various redshifts.
- Gravity data collected by the United States Geologic Survey and NASA satellites used to study collisions and rifts created by supercontinent cycles in the lithosphere of the east coast of North America.
At the conclusion of the program one participant is chosen to receive a travel award to travel with their mentor to a national conference to present the results of their research. This past year a student presented at the AAS winter meeting in Long Beach, California.
Long Island University
This program is administered jointly between two institutions of higher learning: Long Island University (LIU) an urban campus in Brooklyn, NY and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) a suburban campus in Ewing, NJ. There are two positive aspects of this partnership that have particularly strong beneficial effects on IMPRESS-Ed. The first comes directly from the fact that LIU’s student body is composed of a majority of students from underrepresented backgrounds. This has obvious benefits for recruiting with all participants from LIU in past and current programs coming from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM education. Moreover, these students are able to address in their applications plans for enhancing STEM education in an urban setting with students from underrepresented backgrounds. The second positive aspect of the transition comes from the culture exchange which is possible with students coming from such diverse backgrounds. The program begins with the LIU students traveling to TCNJ, a suburban pastoral campus, and it concluded with the TCNJ students coming to Brooklyn, an urban environment in a major metropolitan center. The exchange of thoughts and ideas about education between the students is tremendously enlightening for everyone involved. Even more inspiring is the way the students blend into a cohesive unit despite the difference in their backgrounds. IMPRESS-Ed is enriched through the diversity this partnership allows.
MetricsSee Impact Statements below.
Effectiveness and Impact
Specific instruments for formative assessment were adapted/developed during the planning period in Spring 2011 once the modules were finalized. These include initial structured interviews to include background information and student motivation, and online student surveys administered via Qualtrics to assess weekly what’s working and what’s not. These survey results were summarized as quickly as possible and given to the leaders with no individual identification. In addition, observation of some training sessions takes place to document how the material is delivered and student participation. Feedback is reviewed with the leaders at least every other week, with some meetings being held via Skype or telephone conference. Instruments were reviewed and revised in Spring 2012 and 2013.
Specific instruments for summative assessment were adapted/developed during the planning period in Spring 2011 once the modules were finalized. These include pre-post tests on the inquiry/research methodology and its application within the classroom and/or lesson plans.
Student interviews are analyzed qualitatively. Yearly summative reports are thus developed. Follow-up online surveys will be sent to all past participants to assess what challenges they faced in using the inquiry/research methodology in their teaching as well as to document their successes.
The second year of the IMPRESS-ED program was reported as a success by all six students and four professors who participated this year. Evaluation interviews were conducted by the external evaluator at the end of July following both the two-week common module and the six week mentored research program. On a ten-point scale students ranked the overall experience at 8.8 (vs. 9.4 last year), while professors ranked the experience at 8.5 (vs. 8.25 last year). Each of the six students created posters describing their projects for the MUSE program. Summative evaluation interviews with both students and professors found that all would repeat the experience if they could. Five of the students’ research posters were accepted for presentation at nationally recognized scientific conferences. Four of the students hoped to continue their research with their mentors during the fall 2012 or spring 2013 semester, noting that with their student teaching requirements the logistics would be challenging. All six students said they would like to participate in the program again next summer if they could, and that they would definitely recommend the program to a friend in teacher preparation. They unanimously cited the lesson plans utilizing the various databases and the hands-on outdoor activities as the best things about the common modules.
The IMPRESS-ED program was reported as a success by both students and professors when interviewed by the external evaluator. Formative evaluation interviews were conducted after the initial two-week program which concentrated on the common modules—an overview of astronomy, meteorology,
astrophysics and geophysics. On a ten-point scale students ranked the experience at 8.4, while professors ranked the experience at 8.5. Both groups agreed that sending out content information ahead of time would improve the program. The initial two-weeks were followed by six weeks of
mentored research projects with the physics professors. Each of the students created posters describing their projects for the MUSE program. Summative evaluation interviews with both students and professors found that both would repeat the experience if they could. On a ten point scale, ratings of the overall experience for the five students averaged 9.4, while the average for the four professors was 8.25. Three of the students’ research posters were accepted for presentation at nationally recognized scientific conferences. Four of the students continued their research with their mentors during the fall 2011 semester. All five students said they would like to do it again next summer if they could and that they would definitely recommend the program to a friend in teacher preparation.