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IISME Details: Impact of SWEPTs

Impact on Teachers of IISME's Summer Fellowship Program. Each year, IISME has done follow-up surveys of its participants, asking them to assess how the IISME program has changed them professionally and personally. Some of the results:

  • More than 90% of responding Fellows report that the SFP is one of the best professional development experiences available to them.
  • Attitudinal gains are ranked as the most important outcomes of participation. Fellows state that the experience restores their enthusiasm for teaching and boosts their professional self-confidence.
  • The most commonly reported instructional outcomes are teacher-initiated changes in the areas of career counseling, teacher content knowledge, access to industry resources, and the development of student lessons in process skills (team work, oral and written presentations, problem solving, etc.).
  • Fellows also attest to the value of the ongoing opportunities to build a supportive, collegial community of learners.

Qualitative Data about Impact on Teachers of SWEPTs Nationally. SWEPTs have, for years, documented program activities and assessed teachers' and, in some cases, mentors' reactions via self-report surveys, interviews, and staff observations during visits to fellowship sites. These studies have documented that SWEPTs more than meet teachers' expectations. They provide case studies showing that teachers make sincere efforts to implement in their classrooms the technologies, team approaches, and hands-on participatory approaches to working and learning they have experience in university/industry/government research laboratories and other organizational settings.

Quantitative Data about Impact on Students of Columbia University's SWEPT. Acknowledging the big gap between qualitative data about the effects on teachers and quantitative data about the positive effects on students and their schools, Dr. Samuel Silverstein and Mr. Jay Dubner, Director and Program Coordinator, respectively, of www.Columbia University's SWEPT, initiated a study of the effects of Columbia's program on high-school students in the classrooms of participating teachers.

Through partnerships forged with the New York City Board of Education and school administrators, Columbiaís program has obtained data on attendance, Westinghouse project participation, science club participation, grade-point average, science course pass rates, and the pass rates and scores on standardized tests (New York State Regents' Examination) of 96,000 New York City public high-school students.

The data were obtained from two groups of students: 1) About 6,500 students in classes of participating teachers during the year prior to the teacher's acceptance into Columbia's program and following the teachers' first and second years as program participants (Columbia's program requires teachers to participate for eight weeks in each of two consecutive summers). 2) About 90,000 students in classes of all non-participating science teachers in the same schools at which program participants teach and in the same years.

One measure of success was the attendance rate of the students. The preliminary analysis of the data indicates the first group increased from 76% (year prior to teacher participation) to 82% (after first year) to 90% (after second year); the corresponding percentages for the second group remained fairly constant, going from 74% to 76% to 77%.

A second measure of success was the student engagement in Westinghouse projects. In the first group, preliminary data indicate the number of students participating increased by a factor of nine in this period. In the second group, there was negligible change.

A third measure of success was the student involvement in science clubs. In the first group, preliminary data indicate the percentage more than doubled during the period. In the second group, there was negligible change.

Quantitative Data about Impact of SWEPTs Nationally. The NSF has just funded a planning grant to IISME, Columbia's program and five other SWEPTs to plan a 5-year quantitative study on student outcomes of SWEPTs nationally.

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