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  1. Ji Shen
  2. https://sites.google.com/site/shenresearch/Home
  4. University of Miami
  1. Blaine Smith
  2. Assistant Professor
  4. University of Arizona

Integrating STEM and Digital Literacies with Adolescents

NSF Awards: 1713191

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8

The STEM + Digital Literacies (STEM+L) project investigates science fiction as an effective mechanism to attract and immerse adolescents (ages 10-13) from diverse cultural backgrounds in environmental and human health content and socio-scientific issues. Over a twenty-four-week period, students will work collaboratively in groups in-person and online with their peers and field experts to design, develop, and produce STEM content rich, multimedia science fictions. The in-person learning experiences will take place on the University of Miami campus during the summer and academic year. Culminating activities include student presentations online and at a local Science Fiction Festival. The research component will employ an iterative, design-based approach. Four research questions will be explored: (a) How do students learn science concepts and multimodal digital literacies through participating in the STEM+L Academy? (b) How do students change their views in STEM related subject matter and in pursuing STEM related careers? (c) How do students participate in the STEM+L Academy? (d) How do we best support students' participation and learning of STEM+L in face-to-face and online environments? The results of the project could yield important findings regarding the feasibility of this activity as an effective platform for science learning and engagement for younger students.

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Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase (15 posts)
  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Education Planner
    May 14, 2018 | 12:12 p.m.

    This is really a really interesting approach bringing together many areas that may be appealing to middle grades students. I will definitely go to your website but I am wondering about the evolution of your effort. Also, how are students selected to participate in the program, and what is the connection with their regular school instructional program? Do you connect with their teachers, and if so, which ones (science, English,etc.)? I'm curious, too, about your recruitment and support for professionals who work with the students. This is all very clever!

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:17 a.m.

    Thank you for raising these good questions. We started the program as an after school program at a local middle school. The project evolved over time to become a couple of different versions: one formal and one informal. The informal one is this STEM+L project that includes a summer week-long module plus a fall extension and the formal one is an elective STEAM course for a local middle school. For this STEM+L project, students are recruited on a first-come, first-served basis. Since it's open to all, we don't really get to connect with their teachers. The research team, including the PIs and graduate students (and guest speakers), deliver the instruction for this project. For this coming round, we plan to conduct a teacher/educator workshop to disseminate our program materials to other places. 

  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Principal Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:48 a.m.

    I love how this project uses storytelling as a way to engage students in complex science content. What led you to this approach? Do you think other genres, besides science fiction, could be used to support science learning in this manner? Also, I'd like to hear more about what the extended learning looks like and entails beyond the 1 intensive week session. Also, in your written abstract, you raise some interesting and important research questions. What can you share thus far in terms of findings?

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:39 a.m.

    Thanks for your interest and questions. I think part of the motivation is to engage students in learning not only science (often in an isolated way), but also STEM plus digital literacy all together. Especially consider that the young generation is growing up with all kinds of digital and social media. This is also in many ways emulating real life scenarios such as making a film (e.g., a couple of scientific papers, led by Kip Thorne, were published based on the simulations made for the film Interstellar). In this kind of learning environment, students get to practice STEM+L in an authentic way.

    For the program, in the Fall extension, students are mainly working on their team projects. We also provide additional lectures, tutorial, STEM activities, and lots of feedback to their projects.  

    Our research is still on-going and we'll present some preliminary results at ICLS this summer. In a nutshell, we found interesting patterns and trajectories of student learning when they take on disciplinary roles, make multimodal artifacts, and practice integrated STEM+L. 

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Senior Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 09:25 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your project with this video. I enjoyed learning more about how the project leverages students’ interests in science fiction for supporting their work in STEM. I appreciated that you shared the key research questions guiding your study. Can you explain more about how you are gathering data to gain insight into these research questions? What are key constructs you are measuring? And what theories are guiding your work? Thanks!

  • Shiyan Jiang

    May 17, 2018 | 11:36 a.m.

    Thank you so much for the questions.

    To gain insights into the research questions, such as students' participation patterns and trajectories, we collected survey responses at three critical time points, video recordings of group working, final interviews, multimodal artifacts, and any process data (e.g., logging data of the process of creating interactive online book) during multimodal composing. The data capture students' changes in two aspects: the form and the degree of participation. 

    The key construct we are measuring is "participation." The form of participation includes three dimensions: attitudes and interests in disciplinary roles,(especially integrated) disciplinary knowledge and practices, and recognized by oneself or by others as a disciplinary person. The degree of participation includes both the breadth and depth of participation. The breadth refers to time on task and number of contributions while the depth of participation speaks to the authorship of ideas (e.g., generating new ideas as an originator and evaluating existing ideas as a critic).

    Theories guide our work includes disciplinary identity development (Carlone & Johnson, 2007; Nasir and Hand, 2008; Van Horne & Bell, 2017) and community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1998). The two theoretical perspectives provide a necessary lens for investigating the form and degree of participation respectively.

    Through showing participation patterns and trajectories, we could get insights on factors that contribute to changes in forms and degrees of participation.

    Also, we have two presentations in ICLS this summer, one is "Multimodal Reflection: Adolescents Remixing and Sharing their Experiences in an Informal STEM+L Academy" and the other is "Examining Science Identity Development in a Disciplinary Role-taking Multimodal Composing Environment." Welcome to our session!

  • Icon for: Betsy Stefany

    Betsy Stefany

    May 18, 2018 | 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing the extension of SF with STEM.  Our project also builds the tie with ELA through a science shelf for independent reading developed from vetted out books during our years selecting them and monitoring them online.  We are expecting to continue to expand the online reading as the shelf and activities as reading "circles" has been popular and fits with our other digital visualization activities.

    Hope to hear more about how you continue to consider the Community of Practice concept into your project and future plans.  I am also interest in how you will address the growing student privacy issues.

    Thanks again.

  • Icon for: Lei Liu

    Lei Liu

    May 16, 2018 | 09:58 a.m.

    This project truly addresses the desired integration within STEM, which is often missed in many so called STEM programs. The selected focus of integration is quite natural. In terms of assessing students' learning outcomes, what kind of measurement do you use? Is the assessment focused on the integrated learning of both literacy and science, or it is focused on either of them but with the other as the secondary target?

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 11:56 a.m.

    Thank you Lei. We don't have formal "assessment" per se. We collected different types of data to understanding their learning processes and gains (Please see Yan's response above). We do focus on integration among different aspects/fields, including identty development when taking on different roles (eg. from singular identities to hybrid ones), modality integration (integrating different modes of representations), and content and practice integration (e.g., examining how students integrate science, writing, and design elements in their artifacts).

  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Education Planner
    May 17, 2018 | 06:09 p.m.

    In the video you mentioned that the students presented at a statewide science fiction conference.What was that experience like for them? What was the response of the adult participants?

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 09:43 a.m.

    It was an international science fiction film festival held here at Miami. On saturday morning there's a session open to the public and our program was programmed in that session. It was a driving force for most of our participants as they love to showcase their products. It was the last session so we didn't collect any formal data but based on our observation they, both participants and parents, were all very excited and engaged. It was also a learning experience for many of them. We spent some time during the last couple of fall extension sessions for the students to practice their presentations (each team were given 1 minute to summarize their work in front of a poster they made themselves).  Some students expressed anxiety during those training sessions as they were anticipating a stage freight, but they all did an excellent job presenting their work.

  • Xiaoxue Du

    Graduate Student
    May 18, 2018 | 11:54 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing. Would you share some specific technology tools for the science literary program? Would you consider to expand this project to the larger scale for the curiosity. 

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 09:47 a.m.

    We include a variety of different tools, e.g.,

    • Pixton: A cross-platform application for designing characters and comics.
    • Scratch: A visual programming environment for creating animations and games.
    • Moviemaker: A windows program that allows students to create and edit videos.
    • Pixlr: A web-based platform application for designing posters.
    • iKOS: A web-based knowledge organization platform for individuals and/or groups to construct, share, and organize knowledge in multimodal representations. This is the platform they used to compile their multimodal fictions.
  • Sarah Dean

    Undergraduate Student
    May 21, 2018 | 08:44 a.m.

    Is there an opportunity for lower-income students who cannot afford to go to this camp to participate?

  • Icon for: Ji Shen

    Ji Shen

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 09:12 a.m.

    We don't have financial assistantship built in. However, the academy is free of charge. We also provided bus service.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.