4807 Views (as of 05/2023)
  1. Brendan Calandra
  2. Professor
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Jonathan Cohen
  2. Assistant Professor
  4. Georgia State University
  1. Maggie Renken
  2. http://maggierenken.com
  3. Associate Professor
  5. Georgia State University

Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM (AMAYS)

NSF Awards: 1433280

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Acquainting Metro Atlanta Youth with STEM/ICT (AMAYS) is a design-based research project involving the creation, implementation, and evaluation of a unique, ICT-rich  learning environment for urban middle school youth. The AMAYS intervention has involved groups of participants working on a flexible, modularized, informal computer science curriculum. Types of AMAYS activities include: 1) Guided instruction leading to the creation of pre-designed apps using MIT's App Inventor, 2) more lightly guided problem-based tasks that allow students to tweak, troubleshoot, or remix existing apps, and 3) creating their own apps from scratch. The design of each activity is geared as much as possible towards presenting students with opportunities to use computational thinking concepts, practices, and perspectives (Brennan and Resnick, 2012). Activities are also designed to connect the app building with relevant, tangible, and when possible, socially responsible themes. Rather than being designed as one-size-fits-all, these activities were created with our target population in mind; and they are the result of a target audience analysis, a pilot study, and review of relevant academic literature. Our target audience are largely African American middle school students who are participating in a free after school program called After-School All Stars Atlanta, which operates at multiple middle school sites in the City of Atlanta, Georgia. AMAYS participants interact with one another, doctoral student researcher/mentors, undergraduate role models from local HBCUs, and teachers during AMAYS time.

The AMAYS team has finished two years of design, development, and pilot testing.  AMAYS in its current form is now being implemented and evaluated at 9 middles school sites during the 2017/18 school year. Evaluation has been guided by the following questions:

  1. Does the intervention facilitate:
    • the acquisition and development of participants’ disciplinary knowledge and scientific practices?
    • a change in perceptions of and interest in STEM/ICT and STEM/ICT careers?
  2. Which aspects of the intervention are effective and under what circumstances?
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Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase (8 posts)
  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 07:33 a.m.

    Hello! Our team is busy analyzing rollout data this summer, and we are happy to answer any questions you might have.

  • Icon for: Katie Rich

    Katie Rich

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2018 | 09:49 a.m.

    Hi Brendan and all,

    In your video, one of your research assistants mentions each student progressing along his or her own journey. I believe the individuality of what students bring to the experience is so important to consider, but also know this variability can make it difficult to think about how to measure the impact of your project. Are there some outcomes you hope to have for all kids? How do you balance those with individual goals?

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:05 p.m.

    Hi Katie,

    Sorry for the delayed response - Maggie (from the research team) will also respond to this. We are interested in all of the AMAYS participants increasing their interest in and skills surrounding computing to a certain extent, but due to the fluid nature of the after school program, and to our intentionally flexible design, which is meant to increase agency and choice, outcomes are going to vary quite a bit among treatment group participants. We are hoping that combined qual and quant data will help us to provide an accurate depiction of what took place during our rollout year.

  • Icon for: Alex Lishinski

    Alex Lishinski

    May 15, 2018 | 09:56 a.m.

    Just to follow up on this before Maggie responds, I would also be interested to know more about you you're thinking about the impact of your program, like specifically what outcomes you are expecting to be able to have a measureable impact on. Even if you don't have comprehensive measures of everything or a plan to measure them, I'd still like to know how you conceptualize a theory of action for your program.

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:00 a.m.

    Hi Alex - Very briefly, we are looking at gains in participants’ computational thinking (based on Brennan and Resnick’s 2012 article and Yadav’s work) and some other 21st century skills as measured by a CT quiz, performance based evaluation, and analysis of student artifacts. We are also looking at gains in participants’ self-efficacy and interest in STEM/ICT. We are using mixed methods for data collection and analysis for that including surveys, interviews, observations, and participant observer reflections. As for impact, we hope to provide a model for and contribute to the literature on providing accessible CS learning experiences in diverse informal environments (i.e., after school programs), leaving a curriculum and an approach for continuing with informal CS learning within the large after school program where this project took place, and more broadly, expanding the number and diversity of students who get access to these type of STEM/ICT activities/experiences with a particular focus on those who are underrepresented.

  • Icon for: Irene Lee

    Irene Lee

    Research Scientist
    May 14, 2018 | 10:06 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing information about your program. I'd love to hear more about the types of apps that students create.  Is the design of the app a team activity?  Also, I was wondering if students are asked to shift roles from project to project so they get to experience each of the roles (artist, programmer, project manager, etc.)

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:13 p.m.

    Hi Irene, Jonathan (Jake) will reply to this as well. Activities included: 1) Guided instruction leading to the creation of pre-designed apps using MIT's App Inventor. These were step-by-step instructions for using app inventor to build apps that we found from existing curricula and then adapted for our project and context. 2) More lightly guided problem-based tasks that allow students to tweak, troubleshoot, or remix existing apps. Once students became more comfortable with the app building interface, they began to play and express themselves more - especially through remix. Some were  interested in creating remixed apps around pop-music, pop culture (sports) and games. 3) Creating their own apps from scratch. Due to time and attendance limitations, most of these did not make it past the design phase, but this is where we noticed that students were beginning to truly express themselves through design and in some cases, code. If we extend AMAYS, this will be one of the aspects on which we will put particular focus.

  • Icon for: Jonathan Cohen

    Jonathan Cohen

    Assistant Professor
    May 14, 2018 | 10:16 p.m.

    Hi Irene, Thanks for the question! To elaborate on Brendan's reply, the students worked individually, but it was interesting to watch how students occupied various roles within the different sites. Some students worked collaboratively with others. Other students became tech support/troubleshooting resources for their peers. Because these apps were, in a way, public artifacts, we noticed that the students' work sometimes influenced others' work. And certainly, some students gravitated more to the design aspects of the project, and others were more interested in the coding. The dynamics are interesting, and we should be able to present more detail as we move through our data analysis.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.