Collaborative Digital Bioscience Career Awareness Curriculum and Teacher Professional 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 developing and testing a novel technology-rich high school bioscience curriculum and teacher professional development model. The new curriculum and associated online tools will promote development of critical competencies among students in the context of bioscience career-related investigations. The project will also develop a web-based application that will enable remotely located classrooms to participate in the new curriculum, develop new professional development approaches for high school teachers to support implementation of the new curriculum, and produce research data that will expand the knowledge base on factors influencing career selection and persistence among students with respect to bioscience careers. The curriculum will engage students in simulations that involve designing experiments, predicting results, and interpreting data. Video vignettes of bioscience professionals will be embedded in the curriculum to raise awareness of the wide range of careers related to the bioscience simulations. The associated teacher professional development will engage teachers in co-designing learning activities, piloting activities with students during summer activities, and an ongoing mentoring process with both in-person and virtual components.
This project is a collaborative effort involving scientists, educational researchers, and computer programmers from the Center for Translational Science Education at the Tufts University School of Medicine and teachers and biotech researchers in the Boston metropolitan area. The curricular approach being implemented and tested combines four strategies that have been shown to increase active learning, self-efficacy, and career awareness among students, and to effectively support teacher implementation of new curricula: a) Collaborative problem-based learning strategies that build career awareness by modeling how workforce teams collaborate in inquiry to solve authentic problems; b) Use of collaborative learning technologies that engage students and teachers in modeling, social persuasion, and problem-solving activities to foster teamwork and shared decision-making; c) A collaborative curriculum design process that engages teacher in developing curricula; and d) A teacher professional development approach that progresses through a series of in-person and virtual experiences that support teacher learning before, during, and after implementation of the new curriculum. A mixed methods research approach will be used to examine student outcomes related to disciplinary content knowledge and practices, student self-efficacy and outcome expectations, interests, and career goals. Pretest data and posttest data from innovation and comparison groups will be analyzed using multivariate techniques to examine relationships among outcome measures.