Beyond Blackboards: Integrated Methods for STEM Education and Workforce Development
A diverse population of more than 40,000 middle school students, together with teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and caregivers, engage in design activities that improve awareness and understanding of STEM and STEM career pathways.
The University of Texas (UT) Cockrell School of Engineering is joining with Skillpoint Alliance, a Central Texas education and workforce development agency, and Round Rock ISD, a rapidly growing district serving a diverse population of more than 40,000 students, to deploy an integrated approach to engaging middle school students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and caregivers in activities that improve awareness and understanding of a range of STEM career and college pathways. The project partners with the successful DTEACh program that provides teachers professional development in engineering education using design and empowers educators and caregivers to engage students in STEM activities that guide them toward considering careers in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The program comprises five essential steps: training teachers; providing after-school programs for students; training counselors, administrators and other educators; offering intensive summer camps for students; and reaching out to caregivers. The project supports teachers with multiple professional development opportunities and field experiences, coaching sessions with master teachers, support from UT engineering students and industry mentors, and numerous other resources. Evaluation of the program's impact on students depends not only on student-reported interest in STEM subjects and careers, but on assessment of student performance in STEM subjects and analysis of their high school course selections. Evaluation of the program's impact on teachers focuses on an assessment of participants' curricula and pedagogy and impact on teacher networks. The project produces research tools and research findings that build the knowledge base about approaches, models, and interventions with middle school students from underrepresented and economically-disadvantaged populations and their teachers - the population most likely to increase United States capacity in the STEM workforce, including ICT fields.