As part of a collaborative grant with the N.D. State College of Science, the SEEC engaged nearly 100 teachers and over 2,500 students through two cohorts of the Math Science Partnership (MSP) Community of Practice (COP) focusing on two main goals:
Goal 1) Show an increase in the ability of students to demonstrate career-ready skills, and teacher use of skills module activity in the classroom due to professional learning
Goal 2) Ensure teachers have regular and meaningful interactions with Community of Practice members outside of their institution, and grow the COP to include members that are new to the project
A quick recap of the second year of implementing the Community of Practice…
Spring 2017 brought in a cohort of 44 teachers from 10 different schools of which most were able to host a day-long project-based learning event for their students that focused on problem-based learning with student teams spend a full day researching, designing, testing, marketing, and then presenting a solution that engages them in STEM education (known as the You’re Hired! event).
April followed with two days of teacher professional learning providing an overview of the Community of Practice project, Mindsets, N.D. Multi-Tier System of Supports (NDMTSS) resources, and project-based learning.
June and August brought two, three-day summer institutes focusing on ND College and Career Ready Rubrics; ND Skills Modules (collaborative grouping, group assessment, discourse, real-world problems, questioning techniques, and feedback); STEM education in secondary classrooms; PBL activity in which the teachers took on the role of students; engineering design process; technology in the secondary classroom; and student assessment on the 21st Century Skills.
The fall brought another round of project-based learning events in September and October for students at schools where the MSP teachers work. Teacher teams wrapped up their participation with a final full day of professional learning in September 2017. To note, approximately 1,600 students were impacted throughout all events in this cohort.
All in all this professional learning for teachers was ten days and 60 hours dedicated to these overarching goals. During the coming school year as teachers implement more fully the training they received, it is expected they will continue interacting with each other, further strengthening the community of practice that they are forming.
There will be another round of funding available through the N.D. Department of Public Instruction, but final announcements have not been made. Please contact SEEC Professional Learning Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org stay informed about new cohort availability.
See the infographic below created to capture the impact of the two-year MSP project.
Prior to any professional learning or PBLs, both teachers and students participated in a pre-and-post survey, both surveys were designed to measure growth in the areas of focus for the professional learning.
Based on pre/post survey results, the teachers who participated in the 2016-17MSP Community of Practice professional learning saw large and statistically significant increases in:
- familiarity with all 3 CRP skill development tools,
- classroom use of all 9 ND skill modules activities,
- 5 of 6 STEM teaching self-efficacy measures,
- frequency and number of interactions with other educators related to student CRP skill development
Post survey results indicate that a large majority of teachers felt “extremely comfortable” or “very comfortable” with incorporating 4C (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) activities into their classroom (80-90%), recognizing and assessing student attributes (65-70%), and helping students set goals related to each of the 4Cs (60-70%). Furthermore, over 85% plan to incorporate each of the 4C activities into their classroom on a daily or weekly basis. Additionally, after completing the professional development activities, over 3/4 of respondents now report being “extremely” or “very confident” in facilitating a PBL activity without outside help.
A recurring theme in the teacher feedback responses was the benefit of collaborating and learning from and together with other teachers. Planned changes to teaching practice emphasized greater implementation of PBL, mindsets, the 4Cs, and collaborative student activities.
Student Evaluation Results
On both pre-and-post surveys, students reported a better understanding of what engineers do than of what technicians do. After participating in You’re Hired! activities, there was a small but statistically significant increase in the number of students who reported someone had talked to them about becoming an engineer or technician. Their conception of what engineers do also changed slightly, with fewer reporting (incorrectly, it should be noted) that engineers work mainly with machines and computers, and more recognizing that engineers work on things that help the world and can choose many different kinds of jobs.
When asked about plans after graduating high school, the largest fractions of students plan to go to a four-year college or university (42% in pre-survey, 52% post), were unsure (32% pre, 28% post), or had other plans (24% pre, 16% post) that included professional sports, entertainment, and graduate school. After participation in You’re Hired! activities, there was a sizeable shift towards attending a 4-year school and away from most other categories, especially “Other”.
A final set of questions on the student surveys looked at student problem-solving approaches by asking how students would handle a difficult math problem. Favored approaches were to ask a parent/family member or math teacher for help, followed by work with a friend, take a break, and search the internet. The least likely approaches were to copy off a friend or give up. Comparison of pre/post results showed slight decreases in asking parents or math teachers and increases in searching the internet and copying.