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University of Notre Dame Computing RET

Mari Kemis and Brandi Geisinger lead the evaluation of the NSF-funded Computing Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program at the University of Notre Dame. This RET is a seven-week research program for teachers, focused on developing new ways to process information that either offer new scaling paths and/or can perform computational tasks with much less energy than the von Neumann model. Because a major goal of the program is to help teachers to prepare high school students for the evolution of information processing systems, the program specifically focuses on computational and software models that (i) are inspired by biological systems (with an emphasis on convolutional neural networks associated with deep learning algorithms that are already driving commercialized research at Google, Facebook, etc.), (ii) analog architectures inspired by the retina that can be more easily realized with new information processing technologies, and/or (iii) that directly exploit the evolution of a physical system to solve a problem of interest.

The annual evaluation of the Computing RET program utilizes pre-program, post-program, and follow-up surveys, as well as weekly reflections during the program and a post-program focus group. The evaluation specifically examines teachers’ pre-program expectations and how well those were met, teachers’ pre-program and post-program confidence in research and teaching STEM, current and planned teaching practices at pre- and post-program, and opinions regarding the Computing RET Program.

RET Evaluation Plan

Teacher’s First Year in RETTeacher’s Subsequent Years in RET
Online pre-program surveyFollow-up survey (8 months post-program)
Six weekly reflectionsSix weekly reflections
First online post-program surveySecond online post-program survey
Focus groupFocus group