Module 6

Assessment & Involvement in STEM

I WANT TO LEARN


I would like to be more involved with the learning at the elementary school that feeds our high school. “There’s research that shows that kids are forming their self-concept with regard to academics between the ages of 8 and 10, so that’s why we’re focused on this age group,’ explains Ditz. ‘We go in right at the age when kids are identifying themselves with their academics. We help them apply those strengths that they’re recognizing to STEM topics and engineering fields” (Slagg 2018) 

I would like to learn more about how to create an actual STEM program rather than just completing STEM activities in our classes.  

I know at another high school in our district there is a cross-curricular program between Life Sciences 11 and English 11, but I’m not sure it was developed with a STEM mindset. I believe they operate more like an outdoor education model and also have a heavy influence of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives. 

It would be great to brainstorm some big thematic STEM projects in each junior science grade, and have the same expectations for students as they go through sci 8-12 

MY INITIAL THOUGHTS


This module investigates assessment, community, and STEM programs. At the end of this module, we will be designing a STEM mentorship program for our schools. 

I have spent some time working on assessment as professional development over the past few years. We have been focusing on how to implement the new BC K-12 reporting order that uses the proficiency scale for assessing students in grades K-9. This includes a huge leap from letter grades and percentages to a more descriptive feedback style of assessment. The goal of assessment I have in these grades is to have students focus more on the feedback and how they can improve their learning more on the actual score that they have achieved on any particular assignment or test. I have recently been working on a rubric model that focuses on evaluating curricular competencies as well as content knowledge for my grade 8 Science class as a part of our district’s inquiry learning initiative for teachers. 

Teaching at a rural school, when I think of community, I imagine all of the personal connections we teachers have with our students, and how our school is connected to our local community. I think of school spirit and how students feel when they enter our building. 

The idea of dedicated STEM programs is intriguing to me. I have previously envisioned STEM as another lens to improve or enrich regular Science teaching, I had not yet considered a dedicated program just to teach the skills of STEM. I am interested to read about other schools who have already implemented this initiative. I am also interested to investigate tips for setting up mentorship opportunities for my students. There are few students in our small school who have a passion for the Sciences and STEM. It would be great for them to have someone to connect with who works in an industry they are considering joining to mentor them. 

IDEAS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

I am able to implement what I have learned at my school through the development of more rubrics for both formative and summative assessment. One of the ways that I use self-assessment in my STEM projects is to have students evaluate their teamwork. I have not yet tried out the teamwork questions I generated as part of the rubric assignment, but I am curious if the assessments are more valid than other approaches I have used in the past.

I would like to implement a mentorship program at my school, and perhaps expand it to be a district program. What it exactly looks like, and student/mentor interest, I’m not sure. There are things to consider like length and the type of student/mentor interaction. One of the main structures to organize is the choice between in person or online mentorship. If possible, I think that an in-person meeting would be more engaging for students. However, the ease of meeting online will open up the world of valuable mentors to students.  

Self-Assessment

The main goals of STEM education are to develop student interest in STEM careers, and to develop the knowledge and skills that will allow them to be successful in those careers and in modern society (NSTA 2020). The core competencies were designed to also develop student skills and knowledge to “respond to this demanding world our students are entering” (C.R. MOE). As the core competencies and STEM education models were both designed with the intention of preparing students for the modern world, we find they have very similar skill development and very similar assessment styles.

Self-assessment is a beneficial tool for students to “take control of their learning and realize when they need to ask more questions or spend more time working on a concept” (Loveless). Being able to effectively self-assess their work is an important skill of the modern worker. With the influx of entrepreneurs, contract workers, and minimal oversight, students need to be able to know whether they are successful in their endeavors without direct feedback from a supervisor. 

I think that students’ self-assessment of the core competencies will have great overlap with the assessment of their learning in STEM. STEM education follows many models, all similar to the design thinking process, which may include defining the problem, empathy and perspective taking, idea generation, sketch design, prototyping, testing, refining, feedback from users, reflection, and sharing out. These key steps in the design challenge process require students to effectively communicate, think creatively and critically, and be aware of themselves and the society in which they live. The reason that the core competencies are reflected in the design thinking process is because they have been designed for this purpose. “By design, the Core Competencies are the foundation for the Big Ideas, Curricular Competencies, and Content of the curriculum” (D&S MOE). 

One of the ways that I use self-assessment in my STEM projects is to have students evaluate their teamwork. I have done this many ways, most recently in the rubric creation assignment. For that assignment I added two line items for students to self-assess their team and themselves below the standard teacher evaluated rubric. I have listed my questions below for consideration. I have not yet tried out these questions, based on Anne Jolly’s article, but I am curious if they do better than other approaches I have used in the past. For example, two stars and a wish, a 1 - 5 star rating system for work ethic, or rubric with proficiency language for the curricular competencies. 

 TEAMWORK: Peer Assessment: to be completed as a group (+1 each circle) 

  • Did the team meet frequently to connect and share strengths and stretches? 

  • Did all team members feel included and valued? 

  • Did the team recognize and acknowledge positive behaviours from group members? 

  • Did the team stay on task during work time? 

TEAMWORK: Self-Assessment: to be completed independently (+1 each circle) 

  • Did I share my personal strengths and stretches with my team? 

  • Did I listen to and hear the ideas of everyone on my team? 

  • Did I recognize and acknowledge team members who were behaving positively? 

  • Did I distract any of my team members during work time? 

Community Connections

There are so many resources and programs for youth and teachers on UBC’s Geering Up website that I ended up having to make a list of all of them before I could begin to talk about five select few! For my students I think, no I know, that they would benefit from watching the UBC Creative Engineering Channel as I have already sent the link to one of my students who wants to participate in the upcoming Science Fair Foundation’s Innovation Showcase. I think it is great for students to see other students working and creating within the world of innovation and STEM. Other resources that I would like to share with my students include the online camps, Youth in STEM Podcast, and the great InSTEM opportunities for a few of our students to take advantage of like the Land Based and For Credit Programming. Indigenous youth in STEM is a branch of Geering Up that collaborates with Indigenous communities to create and deliver high impact STEM programming. 

 

For myself, and other teachers, there are also resources galore. The professional development days seemed to mostly be in the lower mainland, which might be a bit of a stretch for myself and Okanagan colleagues to travel to attend. However, I see they are beginning to offer workshops in Kelowna as well, so far just for K-7, but hopefully they will expand in the future. As UBC and UBCO are two fairly popular post-secondary institutions that students at my school choose to attend, I think it is essential for teachers at my school to have a close working relationship that includes pro-d with those facilities. Teachers also have available online courses to learn about STEM, a huge selection of resources for transitioning to online teaching, and of course, perhaps the most valuable thing for teachers on the Geering Up website: simply being able to share all of these great resources and programming opportunities with our students themselves. 

 

Resources for Youth 

  • Online Camps 

  • In-Person Camps 

  • Special Events 

  • Clubs 

  • InSTEM Mentorship Program 

  • InSTEM Internship Program 

  • InSTEM Outreach Workshops 

  • InSTEM Outreach Camps 

  • InSTEM Land Based Programming 

  • InSTEM For Credit Programming 

  • Youth in STEM Podcast 

  • Geering Up Live Channel 

  • DTQC Quantum Hub 

  • UBC Creative Engineering Channel 

 

Resources for Teachers 

  • Professional Development Days 

  • Online Courses 

  • Elementary Classroom and High School Workshops 

  • Resources for Educators Hub 

  • Being able to share all of the youth resources and programs with our students 

Mentors & Mentorship Programs

The WiSE, women in science and engineering, mentorship program at UBC Okanagan was developed to “support students as they start to build their careers”. They clearly explain the benefits to both mentors and mentees for participating in this program. If a STEM student were lucky enough to be paired up with a mentor through this program, they would be able to share and learn from their mentor, make connections with other industry professionals, receive advice specific to their chosen career path, and receive relevant information necessary for them to determine the direction of their future studies and career choices.

When we consider an online mentorship program over a program that occurs in person, there are some benefits as well as challenges. Students will be able to easily and safely connect with one or perhaps many adults working in industries that spark student’s curiosity and interest. The fact that the mentoring program is online will allow students the opportunity to connect with a much wider range of professionals than if they were constrained to their own local area. The challenges I see for students connecting to a mentor online I see as the same challenges that exist for anyone trying to connect over video chat. It’s hard to form personal connections through a computer screen. So much of our communication is non-verbal, and I think we all can agree that meeting over Zoom, while effective, leaves much to be desired in respect to in-person interactions. One of the main goals of a mentorship program is to develop authentic connections and relationships and this may be challenging through video chat alone. I have attached a resource I found for overcoming common challenges to virtual meetings (Autonomous 2021).

Mod 6 - Mentorship Request Flyer.png

TEMPLETON & SAIL

Summarize three things that you learned after exploring Templeton Secondary's STEM program.

  1. I explored the Temp Talks videos created by students. These videos clearly demonstrated what the students were working on, the process of their learning, and their challenges and successes. Some of the projects were done by individual students and some were completed as part of a group. Each of the videos I looked at were created by individual students, regardless of whether they worked in a group or by themselves. I think it is great that they have this public display of their learning process. I can only imagine the scaffolding and support that went into developing their STEM skillset to be able to share their products and process in such a clear and effective format.
     

  2. Looking at the course groupings for the grade 8 and 9 students, I can see the overlap between Math, Science, and ADS&T that would allow for the formation of a STEM program. The content and skills in those classes are still quite broad and would allow for the creative freedom of teachers to engage with their students in any number of different topic areas. 
    Looking at the grade 10 STEM program I see they have added in career life education. I think this is a very strategic move on their part because grade 10 is an essential year of high school where students will have to complete course selection for grades 11 & 12 and decide which career path they would like to prepare for with their high school electives. Recently at my school, we have had a conversation about students wanting more time and support when it comes to the grade 10 course selection process. It is great to see such a significant emphasis on career life education at the grade 10 level in STEM. 
    Looking at the senior STEM courses for grades 11 and 12 they have combined math, again, but with physics, robotics, and computer programming. I definitely see a huge overlap with the physics, robotics, and programming, but I am curious how they reach all of the pre-calculus content pieces within their STEM course. There are many specific math processes that students attending STEM post-secondary need to have mastered in order to succeed at a higher level. I suppose I am curious how much of this STEM program is still standard lessons and how much of the time the students spend on creating and developing their STEM design projects? 

     

  3. I think it’s great that the goal of their STEM program is to be as inclusive as possible. They do not have an entrance test to enter the program, “only an expression of interest and filling out the application form”. They also say that it is possible to enter their STEM program at any year even without the previous years' experience. I think this is a great way to foster as many students’ interest in STEM as possible. I am glad they have designed an inclusive program that does not exclude students based on prior academic success. 

  

How is the program structure of "Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (SAIL)" similar and different from Templeton Secondary’s STEM program?

SAIL is a two year accelerated program for “highly motivated, academic students”. This means that they have to complete a lengthy application process which includes portfolio review, interview process, reference checks, and entrance testing, unlike Templeton’s STEM program. The benefits of a rigorous program like this are that students who complete this program will be more successful in IB or AP level senior courses.

Both SAIL and Templeton offer learning through STEM education as a way to allow students to explore their passions and “develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills”. Both programs want to help students become successful adults in their chosen career fields. 

The challenge of creating a rigorous program like this, with high level entry requirements, is that though these students perform better at the IB and AP levels, it is hard to prove why they perform better. Is it because they have learned more from their accelerated program, or that they are just the top students of their age group. Sometimes when students are narrowly selected for specific academic and work ethic traits, there is a lack of diversity in a program which can impact students’ ability to be creative and innovative in the face of diverse challenges. 

I decided to do some initial research into the bias of entrance exams and standardized testing, but I think the main takeaway is that how students are selected for programs such as these is more telling about the nature of the program than the students themselves. I think that through Templeton’s program, they will be enriching their learning community by offering an alternative to the traditional education model while also increasing students' interest and skillset in STEM. In SAIL’s program, the high standard of student selection will be helpful for the naturally gifted and high achieving students to continue to succeed. 

STEM Mentorship Program Design

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Module 6 Summary

In this module we discussed the strengths and challenges of project-based learning. There are times with project-based learning, where I will have a group of students who really do not produce the quality of work that I am used to seeing at that grade level, for that assignment. Often in those cases I have not provided quality exemplars to demonstrate my expectations. I agree that when I have a rubric it can help guide students to complete work to the quality that I expect. However, I find that unless students have co-created the rubric it is not referenced very closely as they are working on their projects, rather consulted at the end of the task to see if they are missing anything. We are always rushed for time, sometimes when projects don’t turn out as I hoped I can acknowledge that more time would have been beneficial. In the article by John Larmer, he did not address self-assessment for learning. Sometimes feedback from a peer or teacher can be intimidating and cause the student to want to be finished or give up on their work. A self-check that is not submitted for marks can be a helpful way for students to check where they are in their project and see if they have missed any key pieces to their learning. 

 

We also explored the topic of assessment including useful STEM assessments, rubrics, and self-assessment. We read an article from Anne Jolly that highlighted useful STEM assessment including: 

  • Assess whether students can: 

  • Come up with several different possible solutions for a problem 

  • Combine materials and ideas in clever and imaginative ways to create a solution 

  • Design a prototype and test it to see if this device solves the problem 

  • Successfully evaluate their testing results, and analyze and interpret their data 

  • Recognize things they can do to change and improve the design of the prototype 

  • Communicate ideas in new and innovative ways 

And things to look for when doing formative assessment: 

  • Look for indicators 

  • Feel “safe” in expressing out-of-the-box imaginative ideas 

  • Believe that it’s safe to fail, and then use failure as an opportunity to improve 

  • Suggest increasingly creative ideas for solving a problem 

  • Show increased persistence in sticking with finding solutions for a problem 

  • Take ownership of their projects and learning 

  • Express increasing curiosity and ask more questions 

  • Transfer STEM practices to other subject areas

The main goals of STEM education are to develop student interest in STEM careers, and to develop the knowledge and skills that will allow them to be successful in those careers and in modern society (NSTA 2020). The core competencies were designed to also develop student skills and knowledge to “respond to this demanding world our students are entering” (C.R. MOE). As the core competencies and STEM education models were both designed with the intention of preparing students for the modern world, we find they have very similar skill development and very similar assessment styles.

  

Self-assessment is a beneficial tool for students to “take control of their learning and realize when they need to ask more questions or spend more time working on a concept” (Loveless). Being able to effectively self-assess their work is an important skill of the modern worker. With the influx of entrepreneurs, contract workers, and minimal oversight, students need to be able to know whether they are successful in their endeavors without direct feedback from a supervisor.

 

I think that students’ self-assessment of the core competencies will have great overlap with the assessment of their learning in STEM. STEM education follows many models, all similar to the design thinking process, which may include defining the problem, empathy and perspective taking, idea generation, sketch design, prototyping, testing, refining, feedback from users, reflection, and sharing out. These key steps in the design challenge process require students to effectively communicate, think creatively and critically, and be aware of themselves and the society in which they live. The reason that the core competencies are reflected in the design thinking process is because they have been designed for this purpose. “By design, the Core Competencies are the foundation for the Big Ideas, Curricular Competencies, and Content of the curriculum” (D&S MOE). 

Reflect on how inviting professionals to assess student projects can provide valuable feedback. 

  • “Authentic project work should reflect the questions, problems, and needs of the world beyond the classroom. If the work is something that has real value, make sure there is a wider audience for the final product presentation. Having students create web pages to display their ideas and findings enables their products to easily reach a wider audience. If the project deliverable involves an oral presentation, invite peers, family, or community members to attend.”
     

What advantages does this give to students? 

  • Students will be able to learn directly from the source, they will receive the most authentic assessment possible, and they will have a deeper memory of the event as it stands out from the regular assessments that they are used to in school 
     

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

REFERENCES

Autonomous (2021, March 16). 5 Common Virtual Meeting Challenges & How to Overcome Them.

Autonomous. https://www.autonomous.ai/ourblog/5-common-virtual-meeting-challenges

 

Bray, B. (2017, June 8). Design Thinking Process and UDL Planning Tool. Rethinking Learning by Barbara

Bray. https://barbarabray.net/2017/06/08/design-thinking-process-and-udl-planning-tool/ 

 

British Columbia Ministry of Education (n.d.). Curriculum Redesign. British Columbia Ministry of

Education. https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/rethinking-curriculum 

British Columbia Ministry of Education (2017). Developing and Supporting K-12 Student Reflection and

Self-Assessment of Core Competencies. British Columbia Ministry of Education. 
https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/assessment/developing-and-supporting-student-reflection-and-self-assessment-of-the-core-competencies.pdf 

Jolly, A. (2016, March 14). Designing Useful STEM Classroom Assessments. Education Week. 

https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/03/14/designing-useful-stem-classroom-assessments.html

 

Kolk, M. (2019). Assessing Student Project Work. 

https://creativeeducator.tech4learning.com/v07/articles/Assessing_Student_Project_Work 

 

Landry, A., & Lewiss, R. E. (2020, August 25). What Efficient Mentorship Looks Like. Harvard Business

Review. https://hbr.org/2020/08/what-efficient-mentorship-looks-like

 

Larmer, J. (2013, October 7). How to Get High-Quality Student Work in PBL. Edutopia. 

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/high-quality-student-work-pbl-john-larmer 

 

Loveless, B. (n.d.). Helping Students Thrive by Using Self-Assessment. Education Corner. 

https://www.educationcorner.com/helping-students-self-assessment.html 

 

National Inventors Hall of Fame (n.d.). What is the Value of STEM education? National Inventors Hall of

Fame. https://www.invent.org/blog/trends-stem/value-stem-education#:~:text=Skills%20Derived%20from%20STEM%20Education,and%2021st%2Dcentury%20skills.

 

NSTA (2020). STEM Education Teaching and Learning. NSTA. 

https://www.nsta.org/nstas-official-positions/stem-education-teaching-and-learning 

 

Slagg, A. (2018). 5 Steps to a Successful K–12 STEM Program Design. EdTech Magazine. 

https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/08/5-steps-successful-k-12-stem-program-design

 

Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning (n.d.). STEAMX Accelerated. Surrey Academy of Innovative

Learning. https://sailacademy.ca/programs/steamx-812/ 

 

Templeton Secondary (2019). STEM Information Night Recording (for Fall 2022). Templeton Secondary. 

https://templetonstem.org

 

UBC Okanagan (2019). Benefits of Mentoring. Women in Science and Engineering at UBC Okanagan. 

http://wise.ok.ubc.ca/the-mentoring-program/benefits-of-mentoring/