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Iowa’s Symbi GK-12 Project

The mission of Iowa’s Symbi GK-12 project is to engage graduate students conducting interdisciplinary research in the area of biorenewables with middle school educators, middle school students, and their respective administrators and parents. The program has two overarching objectives:

-provide Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) graduate students with the skill sets and communication proficiency to explain core Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) principles to non-technical audiences

-provide middle school students exposure to inquiry-based learning experiences that will enhance their overall interest in STEM disciplines

The Symbi evaluation is supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. DGE-0947929. The evaluation plan is based on the goals and objectives of the project and uses an approach that examines project accountability, effectiveness, and impact. The evaluation considers both processes and outcomes though a combination of formative and summative assessments.

The formative assessment includes monthly reflections by both middle school teachers and graduate teaching fellows and a communication component, which includes the analysis of fellows’ research presentations before and after the program, classroom observations to determine fellows’ pedagogical progress, and a process knowledge intervention led by ISU speech and communication staff. Summative assessments include focus groups with the teachers and fellows, comparisons of pre-program and post-program survey responses for the evaluation of changing pedagogical methods and STEM-related skills, and summative evaluations of project seminars and workshops. The program evaluation also includes pre-program and post-program middle school student surveys to determine the program’s impact on student interest and comprehension in STEM fields.

Evaluation deliverables include annual evaluation reports, interim evaluation reports, and survey and focus group instruments and protocols. Timelines for submission of materials and reports are determined by program deadlines and federal reporting guidelines.