App Maker Pro (AMP): Motivating STEM Study through App Development
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by producing empirical findings and/or research tools that contribute to knowledge about which models and interventions with K-12 students and teachers are most likely to increase capacity in the STEM and STEM cognate intensive workforce of the future.
Project AMP (App Maker Pro), a partnership between Arizona State University and the Chandler, Higley, Mesa, and Phoenix, Arizona public schools, will gauge the effectiveness of a Design Village (community) program on the technology interests and talents of high school students. The teachers will enhance their technology expertise and knowledge of applications of technology as a way to increase the number of STEM majors. In Design Villages, teams of high school students and high school STEM teachers will study existing apps, and then develop (or modify existing) apps, including those that address problems in the various STEM and related fields, as for example, city planning, eco-friendly construction, education, finance, nutrition/fitness/healthcare, and travel. The AMP approach, with its Design Villages of scientists and industry experts, teachers and students, who collaborate to identify and address challenging problems in STEM fields through development of apps that will be immediately useful by the public, will not only increase the number of high school students well-prepared for post-secondary education in STEM fields, but may also prove to be a tool for recruiting high school graduates into STEM fields. AMP products, including curricula for effective after school AMP programs, will facilitate replication of this strategy nationwide.
The app and software design program will follow an informal agile development methodology which moves through rapid-cycle iteration from prototyping to intermediate to final versions of the requirements, design specifications, implementation and validation. After increasing their own expertise in design and development, teams of teachers and high school students will create and conduct after school AMP programs for other students and teachers in their schools. Design Villages will be conducted and led by university and industry scientists, assisted by undergraduate software design and programming majors. Each Design Village will consist of 10 teams of 5 villagers (3 students and 2 teachers). Over the course of the project, six Design Villages will be conducted, involving 90 high school students, 60 high school teachers, and from 15 to 45 mentors. Evaluation will focus on both students and teachers. Major goals include: 1) Increase in student interest in and commitment to study STEM subjects in high school; 2) Increase in the number of students who enroll in and persist in STEM programs in education settings beyond high school; 3) Increase in teacher interest in and commitment to use of software development as a vehicle for engaging students in solving real-world problems; and 4) Increase in teachers' talents to successfully plan and offer software design and app development courses for after-school or in-school programs. Results from the evaluation will add to knowledge about motivation for student course and program selection and career choice, and professional development approaches that enhance teacher technology talents and knowledge of STEM careers.