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Assessment of an Innovative K-12 STEM Program

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Assessment of an Innovative K-12 STEM Program

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Project Description:

STREAM School is a middle school program provided through a partnership between Hamilton Community Schools and the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODC) in Holland. STREAM School takes a non-traditional approach by connecting students to the outdoors through a project-based learning (PBL) approach. STREAM teachers work alongside local professionals and ODC staff to develop learning experiences for students that connect state-mandated content to real-world projects. Projects are designed to be authentic, engaging, and educational within a framework allowing students to express their passions and interests. STREAM School places education outside the walls of the classroom and into authentic environments where students have opportunities to connect critical content with job skills. One goal of my science education research lab at Hope College is to assess the STREAM school program using mixed methods techniques. Using data collected from interviews, test scores, surveys, and observations, research assistants engaged in this summer project will attempt to answer the following research questions: (1) How do STREAM students standardized test scores compare with their non-STREAM peers?; (2) How does STREAM School participation contribute to the non-cognitive skills of students (i.e., critical thinking, collaboration, personal accountability, etc.)?; (3) Does STREAM School contribute to the motivational resources of students, and if so, in what ways?; (4) What are the perceptions of STREAM School by Hope pre-service teachers who complete field placements at STREAM?; and (5) How does STREAM School participation affect students' attitudes about future career choices? Students will investigate these questions using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and generate written reports and articles for dissemination. Students will also learn to use research software such as SPSS and NVivo.

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