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Delaware Research And Development Center

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

Evaluation of University of Delaware ADVANCE

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation

The University of Delaware received an Institutional Transformation grant in the late summer of 2014. ADVANCE is aimed at implementing systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty in academic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. UD ADVANCE will focus on improving departmental microclimates for women faculty, especially women of color; educating, mentoring and supporting women STEM faculty, especially women post-tenure and women of color; increasing the transparency of policies, procedures and practices that affect faculty careers and enhancing institutional data gathering, analysis and presentation; and coordinating actions and discussions of diversity across the campus. Evaluation activities will include monitoring and documenting project activities as well as measuring program outcomes related to the numbers of women and minorities at different levels of the university; the professional networks and relationships that these faculty have at UD; changes in relevant policies and practices; and the overall professional climate at UD.

Evaluation of The Maryland-Delaware Climate Change Education, Assessment, and Research partnership (MADE CLEAR)

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director, Hilary Mead & Amanda Czik, Project Staff

Funder: National Science Foundation Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program

The Maryland-Delaware Climate Change Education, Assessment, and Research partnership (MADE CLEAR) is designed to build a sustainable, effective and relevant structure for climate change education within a two-state region. While MADE CLEAR focuses on formal education in grades 8-12, the multi-institution partnership reaches out to a wide range of learners in other non-formal, free-choice settings such as museums, aquaria, and nature centers. Through ongoing evaluation, the partnership focuses on continuously improving how climate change education is delivered to students in Maryland and Delaware.

The projects’ four primary goals are: (1) infuse climate change concepts in all aspects of education by engaging the scientific community and K-12 and informal educators in collaboration; (2) build sustainable infrastructure for climate change education through teacher education and professional development; (3) draw broader lessons about research and assessment to create climate education models that can be applied in other regions based on the local socio-cultural diversity; and (4) advance effective practice of climate change education in the Maryland-Delaware region and beyond.

The evaluation of MADE CLEAR studies the implementation and progress toward each of the partnership’s objectives and activities. For example, project records and work products will be examined and participants and stakeholders will be interviewed and/or surveyed about their experiences and levels of engagement. The summative evaluation, which determines the extent to which specific project outcomes are achieved, will identify and review key program documents, collect pre- and post-assessment data ( e.g. teachers in professional development or student participants in outreach events), and interview or survey key informants.

Metaevaluation of REU and RET Evaluations to Assess Quality and Build Capacity Locally and Nationally

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director, Ximena Uribe-Zarain, Project Staff

Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF), Promoting Research and Innovation in Methodologies for Evaluation (PRIME)

This exploratory project is a metaevaluation of project-level evaluations of NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site programs, which fund projects that bring undergraduates or teachers together for summer research experiences. The objectives of the project are to: (1) describe and assess the quality of REU and RET project evaluations, (2) test the feasibility of synthesizing and generalizing across project evaluation results to support conclusions about program-level effectiveness, and (3) lay the groundwork for a resource to build evaluation capacity and align the evaluation needs of local projects and the national programs.

This project will increase the potential for NSF to learn from project evaluations by identifying the evaluations that are of high quality and developing a framework for synthesizing results across them. It will also yield tools that can help future sites with NSF reporting requirements.

Evaluation of Regional Cybersecurity Education Initiative

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The University of Delaware College of Engineering, Delaware Technical and Community College, and Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD, are collaborators in a four- year NSF grant to develop a Regional Cybersecurity Education Initiative (RCEI). DERDC will examine the partnership’s academic programs as well as its extracurricular and outreach activities in order to gauge the program’s progress toward and attainment of its larger goal- to build regional academic and workforce capacity in the field of Cybersecurity. Evaluation activities will include monitoring and documenting the program development and implementation as well as surveying participants in the undergraduate programs and in broader outreach activities designed for middle and high school teachers and their students. Finally, the evaluation will examine the long term question of regional impact and program sustainability.

Evaluation of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in Systems Biology of Cells in Engineered Environments

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program

The University of Delaware is launching a new interdisciplinary doctoral program in Systems Biology of Cells in Engineered Environments (SBE2). SBE2 will develop an innovative graduate curriculum in systems biology and engineered environments and provide a framework for training in ethics, business, outreach, and science communication. SBE2 also aims to ensure diversity among its Scholars, to build an effective administrative structure, and to form partnerships with industry and with international scientists.

DERDC is conducting a five-year formative and summative evaluation of this new program. The evaluation focuses on four components: student development, effectiveness of educational, training and recruitment activities, faculty development, and partnership impacts. Data collection activities include surveying Scholars and faculty members, assessing Scholars’ projects and concept maps, analyzing recruitment efforts, and comparing Scholar demographics to those of participating departments.

Evaluation of Integrated Science and Mathematics Education: A Model Course for Pre Service Teachers

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director

Funder: National Science Foundation, Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) program

This three-year project evaluates a new freshman course for science and mathematics education majors at the University of Delaware. This one-semester course is interdisciplinary and features problem-based learning. It aims to engage students in the big questions of science and mathematics and to build critical thinking, teamwork, research, and communication skills. This new first-year experience is intended to provide pre-service teachers with an innovative model of science and mathematics teaching.

The evaluation examines this new approach in two ways. First, it assesses the effectiveness of new curriculum materials and instructional approaches through class observations, student and faculty interviews, and student surveys. Second, it assesses student growth in content knowledge of science and mathematics and in problem-based learning process skills. In both cases, DERDC will adapt existing assessments where possible, and design new instruments as necessary. These will be identified in year 1, piloted in year 2 and revised and administered in year 3 of the project.

Evaluation of GAANN grant in the Department of Mathematical Sciences

Joan Buttram, DERDC Project Director & Ximena Uribe-Zarain, Project Staff

Funder: U.S. Department of Education, Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN)

UD’s graduate program in the Department of Mathematical Sciences is the recent recipient of a grant for Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN).  The goals of this project are to: increase the number of U. S. citizens and permanent residents who obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics or applied mathematics, improve the rate at which all U. S. citizens and residents who begin doctoral study at the department move on to become Ph.D. candidates, improve the representation of females and members of under-represented groups in the doctoral program to at least national averages, and to learn about, implement, evaluate, and adjust new policies and procedures that help the department achieve these outcomes permanently.

DERDC is conducting a formative and summative evaluation of this program. The evaluation focuses on two main components: student recruitment and student retention.  Data collection activities include surveying and interviewing faculty members and students and analyzing application records.

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