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  1. Jackie DeLisi
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Kristen Almquist- Cevallos
  2. Director of Early College and Career Pathways
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Dearborn STEM Academy
  1. Erica Fields
  2. Research Associate
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Ed Liu
  2. Chief Improvement Officer
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Boston Plan for Excellence BPE
Facilitators’
Choice

Influence of Industry-Informed STEM Pathways on Student Experiences and Outco...

NSF Awards: 1855763

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

The Boston Plan for Excellence, in collaboration with the Education Development Center and Boston-based STEM industry partners, is designing three industry-informed pathways in technology and engineering for 300 students in grades 9-12. The pathways focus on: computer science, engineering, and health sciences, with the goal of integrating industry partnerships and career focused activities into students high school experiences. Each pathway includes an aligned sequence of technology-rich and interdisciplinary project-based courses, internships, career talks, company tours, and job readiness workshops. Research and evaluation in this project examines the: (a) career pathway design, (b) students' experiences, and (c) students’ STEM interest in STEM and computing. By focusing on the organization of student experiences using a pathway approach, we can address the question: What are the essential components of a successful industry-informed STEM career pathway in a non-selective, urban public STEM school, wherein success results in students graduating with the interest and capacity to fill workforce needs in a STEM-driven economy?

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Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 4, 2020 | 12:33 p.m.

    Hi everyone! We hope you enjoy learning about our project. This NSF ITEST project brings industry-aligned experiences to students in a non-selective, urban STEM high school. We're finding that within the school, teachers' and students' work looks different as teachers provide interdisciplinary and project-based experiences for students that are aligned with work in local industries and provide students with opportunities to interact with industry professionals. Students also receive support for dual-enrollment in local colleges and internships with local industry professionals. We're excited about bringing these career-focused opportunities to students and we would be interested in learning from others about the development of career pathways in other schools. Specifically, what have other career pathways entailed? What kinds of student outcomes (eg, student learning or skills such as problem solving or team work) have you observed or measured?

     
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    Janelle Johnson
  • Icon for: Dave Miller

    Dave Miller

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 09:23 a.m.

    Awesome project, and thanks for sharing your valuable work, here! I am intrigued with the connectedness you have build and are building with industry partners - that's huge and so key for bringing the authentic experiences that students crave, into the classroom. 

     
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    Erica Fields
  • Icon for: Erica Fields

    Erica Fields

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 09:29 a.m.

    Thank you, Dave! The connection to industry is a key component of the pathways, intended not only to bring authentic experiences to students, but to ensure that the skills they are learning are matched to what is actually needed in the workforce.

  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 11:24 a.m.

    I am intrigued with you ability to engage industry in the project.  I have been working with a group to understand the mathematical skills, competencies and reasoning needed by techncians in the workplace.  The connection between industry and community college technical faculty seems weak.  How do you engage industry to provide useful guidance to you program?  

     
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    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos
  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 11:48 a.m.

    Thanks for your question, Gerhard. One of my colleagues may be better placed to answer your question, but I will take a first stab based on what I know. During the planning stages for each pathway, we have first lined up lead corporate and higher ed partners. These partners have contributed a number of things: (1) representatives on an advisory board, (2) feedback on program and curriculum design, (3) teacher externships at their organizations, where teachers can interact with professionals and learn about the workplace demands, (4) student internships and/or other work-based learning opportunities, and (5) in some cases other in-kind or financial support. So there are different engagement points with industry for the school, staff, and students.  In hiring pathway faculty we also have tried to find teachers who have prior industry experience, though they can be hard to find (e.g., a computer teacher who did work for a game design company, a physics and robotics teacher who had been a practicing engineer). So, they do bring personal experience from industry, although that experience might have been quite a few years ago. One of things we are trying to document to some extent is some of the challenges and opportunities our teachers face when the are asked to help design curriculum that is not what they are used to. 

     
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    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos
  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 11:52 a.m.

    Oh, also, for the game design course, our computer science teacher enlisted industry professionals to mentor the various project teams. Students would videoconference with a programmer or designer from Ghost Story Games, or communicate with them via Slack. Professionals would come play the games students had created, provide feedback, and ask questions about their work. As we gain more experience implementing the pathways, we have encountered a new challenge. The type of project-based learning we are designing for students can be quite different from more traditional modes of teaching and learning in community college or 4-year colleges. So, when our students take early college course, they sometimes get a bit of whiplash. Which connects with your observation that some community colleges might not have strong connections with industry or be teaching in ways that develop the real-life skills companies are looking for (team work, communication, project management, technical skills). 

     
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    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos
  • Icon for: Mercy Mugo

    Mercy Mugo

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:28 p.m.

    The interdisciplinary approach is wonderful. How do you deal with the complexity of integrating activities across three different pathways and also different sets of industry partners?

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:16 a.m.

    Hi Mercy, Kristen answered your question in another post, but I'd add that she and her team at the school have been strategic in staging the development and implementation of the pathways. In Year 1 of the project, the focus was on designing only 1 of the 3 pathways (Computer Science). In Year 2 (this year), we implemented the 11th grade curriculum for CS pathway and continued to design 12th grade curriculum. At the same time, Kristen launched new teams at the school to start designing the two other pathways (Engineering and Health and Life Sciences) for launch next school year. So, we didn't try to launch and implement all three pathways at the same time. And as Kristen noted, we have limited the number of partners at the start. 

     
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    Mercy Mugo
  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:21 a.m.

    Yes, we limit the numbers to 2-3 partners maximum

    For Computer Science we have had Microsoft, Ghost Story Games (local Game Design Company), and Rapid7 (cybersecurity firm)

    For Engineering - Gillette, MIT Media Lab

    For Health Science - Mass General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Med Science

    Our higher education partners have been: Wentworth, UMASS Boston, Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College

     
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    Mercy Mugo
  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:37 p.m.

    The interdisciplinary approach has been a hit with students.  They have had the traditional education silos broken down and see how skills from each subject can transfer to the other.  Also because the task are authentic and industry aligned the ever present question of "why are we doing this?" is answered almost intuitively.  We have been careful to not take on too many partners to and really push our partners to consider the industry standard not just what works in their company.  Luckily our higher education partners and our industry partners have worked incredibly well together!

     
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    Holly Morin
    Traci Higgins
  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:40 p.m.

    Also, Gerhard, we have worked hard to leverage our community college partners on a department basis.  Our game design program is aligning to one of our local community colleges so students are able to place into more advanced course work because they have intimate knowledge of the skills students acquire in their HS curriculum.  We have not done it in our school yet but I have been involved in creating concurrent enrollment opportunities in math and english where students can hear HS and college credit in their HS Math and English classes.  This takes time and much alignment between the two organizations but is worth it so students can earn dual credit and can avoid tests like the accuplacer that are often not a true reflection of what students know but how well they test. 

  • May 5, 2020 | 10:44 p.m.

    I REALLY like this project and thank you so much for sharing. I've love to have a sidebar and will be sharing this with my colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    We are beginning at three year VA DoE grant funded by Amazon, where we collaborating with Code VA, Code RVA, and three corporate partners that include CarMax, Bank of American and Capitol One in Richmond, VA region.

    We too desire near-peer mentors that will be working with students via a "student innovation series" where they will be learning about career pathways, and working on locally authentic CS challenges tied to these industries. Additionally, we are planning student professional learning experiences (besides internships/tours) that hope to help students learn workplace decorum, the importance of social media profiles and how to work on teams when you disagree! We are looking at tools like: Brilliant Career Lab, Invest in What's Next, or Major Clarity as career planning tools. 

    I am jazzed about how comprehensive your  strategy is: e.g., advising, labor market demand, integrated instruction, workplace learning, credential preparation, etc. I know Eric Banilower at HR (been a few years), Is there data emerging that is shedding light on which types of pathway support are more effective than others, or how to tweak certain components?

    Looks like an awesome project!

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 11:33 p.m.

    Hi, Albert. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about our project. It sounds like you are doing similar work. How exciting! I will try to get my colleague Kristen Almquist-Cevallos to respond and/or connect with you. She is the director of the college and career pathways at the school, and also developed similar programs at her prior school.

    We're in year 2 of the project and first year of implementation, and, yes, we are starting to learn  about the types of support we need to put in place (or tweak) to help students navigate different environments, from regular high school to professional workplaces and college campuses. We've collected but not yet systematically analyzed our data, but Kristen might be able to speak about initial learnings and planned adjustments. 

    I do think we are fortunate that the Boston Private Industry Council runs a robust summer internship program and offers a lot of professional development workshops for students before they embark an internship. So, we try to leverage existing programs and develop partnerships with them when possible. 

    BTW, since you're in Richmond, do you happen to know Hollee Freeman, the Executive Director of the MathScience Innovation Center? She was a former colleague here at BPE. 

     
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    Albert Byers, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 08:08 a.m.

    Hi, Albert.   I am happy to talk anytime about our programs and others I have worked with.  Feel free to email me at kalmquist@bostonpublicschools.org

  • May 6, 2020 | 09:25 a.m.

    Thank you both Ed and Kristen for being so gracious with sharing your project. I will definitely reach back Kristen, maybe invite you to a zoom with our team attempting/embarking on the same journey, and we are happy to share back as well!

    Yes Ed, I know Hollee well. She's a very driven, motivated and gregarious leader! Small world! Years ago (to many to count) early in my educational career, I actually taught at the MSiC Governor's School for the Gifted in the Summer (rocketry and supercomputing). Great history there, good organization doing meaningful and impactful work.

  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:31 a.m.

    Happy to join whenever you feel it could be useful.  Also happy to provide materials to your team. Once you get further along my teacher team is AMAZING and would be happy to share their experiences if that is at all useful to you :)  I look forward to hearing from you in the future!

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 6, 2020 | 10:29 a.m.

    Hi Albert, Thanks so much for your comment. As Kristen and Ed have said, we'd love to connect and hear more about what you're working on. In answer to your question about which types of pathway support are most effective, our research is in the early stages, but we are finding that the connections to industry and the alignment of the interdisciplinary classwork to industry are particularly engaging for students. During the game design project, students easily interacted with industry mentors, asking questions and revising their games in the process. Group work also mirrored the workplace in that students took on roles and were responsible for different aspects of the game design. This enabled them to build skills based on their strengths and interests. As Ed mentioned, the background of the teachers may also be an important factor as this so far has enabled deeper knowledge about and connections to industry.

  • Icon for: Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores

    Researcher
    May 6, 2020 | 07:52 a.m.

    What a great curriculum! What are you seeing in terms of college major selection or career selection outcomes among your students?

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 6, 2020 | 10:33 a.m.

    Hi Lisa, to add to Ed and Kristen's replies, several students in the CS pathway have told us that they are not planning to major in CS, but that they know in that any career they will benefit from having an understanding of CS. Some students have also told us that the project management and design skills will benefit them in their careers or future studies. 

     
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    Holly Morin
  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 08:11 a.m.

    Hi, Lisa.  We are only in our first year of just our computer science pathway but we are seeing students going to Community College for Game design, others to public and private universities for computer science as well as biomedical/engineering technologies.  Some students have discovered computer science as a "major" isn't for them but are happy to have the foundational knowledge to take with them into their career/major of choice.  

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 09:00 a.m.

    I would add, Lisa, that the Dearborn is a non-selective, open enrollment school, and still has a strong identity as a neighborhood school. Although we have students that come from across the city, most are from the surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, as the pathways are new, not every family chose the school because of them. As Kristen noted, even those students who aren't specifically interested in pursuing CS majors in college talk about how useful learning CS will be to their futures. As one pathway student who is interested in law noted, even if they become a lawyer they will have to know about how technology works to adequately serve some of their clients. 

  • Icon for: Matthew Fieldman

    Matthew Fieldman

    VP, External Affairs
    May 6, 2020 | 11:57 a.m.

    Hi Ed and team - I just wanted to point out that I love the diversity of the three pathways, and the "gamification" to enhance the students' learning experiences. While it's not quite gamification, the way we approach engineering/manufacturing training involves the students welding and cutting things they can take home and show their parents (including Mother's Day gifts!). Just an idea as you launch the Engineering side. Check out our video to hear about how we've scaled our approach to 10 high schools and 10 employers across three counties. Keep up the great work!

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 12:03 p.m.

    Thanks. I viewed your video earlier and was so impressed about how you have engaged so many employers. The paid internships and tuition reimbursement are such great opportunities for your students, and I imagine allows them to devote more time to the pathway (rather than take on unrelated jobs to generate income). 

  • Icon for: Matthew Fieldman

    Matthew Fieldman

    VP, External Affairs
    May 6, 2020 | 12:10 p.m.

    Absolutely. One of the learnings we've had through this whole COVID crisis is just how much our students rely on their stipends for paying their everyday bills and supplementing their family's income. We are figuring out how we can best support the students for those whose internships are on hold.

  • Icon for: Jeremy Roschelle

    Jeremy Roschelle

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 12:35 p.m.

    Wow, Jackie and team -- this is such an exemplary conversation -- your video is inspiring people to think and share. Love it!

    And the heart of your project is clearly that there are so many pieces of the puzzle integrated so well. But I'm going to ask about just one element. Are there research-based best practices for industry involvement -- either from your team or in the literature? 

    As I see several showcase projects with industry connections, I can imagine a primer on the research on how to do industry partnerships right would be so helpful. If you want to write a primer, we have a series where you could publish it... 

    jeremy

     

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 12:59 p.m.

    Hi, Jeremy. That's a very good question, and I don't know the answer to whether there is an extensive research base about industry-K12 partnerships around STEM learning. We didn't do a lit review prior to starting this project. We did, though, hire Kristen, who had extensive experience building pathways and partnerships (industry and higher ed) in Chelsea, MA. Your question does make me think we do need to do more to document and analyze how BPE and Dearborn built the partnerships over the past couple of years, and capture the approach to partnering we took. And also capture the perspectives of our partners. We are planning to interview industry mentors and other participants, but now I'm thinking we need to collect more data. Thanks for getting me thinking on this. I do think industry has been eager to reengage with K-12 education. In the latter years of the standards and accountability reforms of the past couple decades (culminating in  Common Core) I think industry may have struggled to find obvious places to engage with schools. College and Career readiness became a mantra, but the career part never got much focus until very recently. And in some ways some of what we are doing runs contrary to traditional school accountability systems (or doesn't get captured or rewarded in the metrics focused upon).

     

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 8, 2020 | 11:33 a.m.

    Hi Jeremy, Thank you for the suggestion about a primer! We're learning a lot about what is needed to implement career pathways, and what it could mean for teachers and students. You're right that disseminating some of our lessons learned seems like a worthwhile contribution, especially as more schools consider creating career pathways. 

  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Informal Educator
    May 6, 2020 | 08:20 p.m.

    An understandable outpouring of love for this project! (Jackie: You've been holding out on me!) We've just completed a workforce development survey for the aquaculture industry in Maine. If you're interested in seeing how your model might apply to a very different industry, in a very rural state, let me know. I love the model and we have some pieces already in place. I think the questions about strong (and scalable) industry partnerships is essential, particularly when the ratio of students interest to potential partners is radically different than in the CS/Engineering market in Boston. Thanks for getting my brain swirling!

  • Icon for: Ed Liu

    Ed Liu

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 08:27 p.m.

    Thanks for the kind words, Leigh. Good to know there are similar initiatives up north in Maine. I do think we need to start thinking about high school in new ways that prepare young folks for both college and career. Career pathways is one model; there are many others. But I think seeing the relevance of what they are learning, and developing "soft" as well as "hard" skills are both really powerful. The level of engagement is really different. 

  • Icon for: Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Kristen Almquist- Cevallos

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 09:23 a.m.

    We would love to collaborate if that is something you want to discuss.  I have discovered that model does transfer school to school in urban settings.  I imagine it would also apply in any school but it would be great to talk about.

     

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 7, 2020 | 10:30 a.m.

    Leigh, not intentionally holding out, but now that you mention it, there are so many connections that we should explore here. It's great to hear about the workforce development survey-- I'd love to hear more and to think about how this model might apply to other settings. Let's get this on an agenda soon. 

  • May 7, 2020 | 12:01 p.m.

    Jackie, this is absolutely fabulous in so many ways that others have shared in the previous comments more articulately than I could!! Clearly so much deep hard work going on here at multiple levels!! Thanks so much for sharing your work!

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 8, 2020 | 11:33 a.m.

    Thanks, Cindy!

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