Levon Esters, Ph.D. Neil Knobloch, Ph.D. Department of Youth Development and  Agricultural Education 1 st  Annual G-STEM S...
<ul><li>By 2020, more than 40% of the US college-age population will be members of currently underrepresented minorities  ...
<ul><li>Need to expand and diversify the STEM talent pool </li></ul><ul><li>Workforce diversity in science, technology, en...
<ul><li>As more attention is given to high-stakes testing, there is a real risk of reducing the opportunities for students...
<ul><li>Students connecting the content with the context in which the content could be used  (Hull, 1993; Berns & Erickson...
<ul><li>Authentic learning experiences help sustain urban youth’s interest in sciences   (Basu & Narton, 2007) </li></ul><...
<ul><li>Urban students often report that what they learn in science lacks relevance to their lives  (Fusco, 2001; Nieto, 1...
<ul><li>An educational focus on “real-world problems that have no clear answers, are interdisciplinary in nature, are rele...
<ul><li>Urban students have to see some kind of connection between their science learning and lived experiences  (Upadhyay...
<ul><li>Minority students perform much worse on science regardless of grade level; the same holds in Indiana with African ...
% who do not know basic science (Indiana Dept. of Ed., 2009)
<ul><li>Culturally relevant strategy </li></ul>
<ul><li>Mini-Grand Challenges (MGC’s) led by multidisciplinary STEAM scientists focusing on various STEM concepts (e.g., e...
<ul><li>MGC on the topic of alternative energy which would focus on the STEM concepts of engineering, physics, and technol...
Table 1.  Examples of Mini-Grand Challenge Experiences MGC STEM Concept Ag Context Alternative Energy Science, Technology,...
<ul><li>Relevant and real-world connections are critical to increasing URM students’ interest in science </li></ul><ul><li...
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Attracting Underrepresented Minorities through Contextualized Learning Experiences. By Levon Esters and Neil Knobloch.

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In order for the United States to maintain its preeminence in the world economy of this new millennium, in which science-based fields are playing an increasingly prominent role, educators need to expand and diversify the STEM talent pool (Tsui, 2007). Unfortunately, the workforce diversity needed within the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math (STEAM) disciplines are not being met especially in terms of the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs). One obstacle to increasing workforce diversity in STEAM majors and careers is the lack of contextualized learning experiences afforded to URMs. Contextual learning involves students connecting the content with the context in which that content could be used (Hull, 1993; Berns & Erickson, 2001). An important component of contextual learning is the use of authentic activities—activities similar to those that take place in the real- world outside of school (Borko & Putnam, 2000). Brown, Collins, and Duiguid (1989) argued that, “authentic activity…is important for learners; because it is the only way they can access the standpoint that enables practitioners to act meaningfully and purposefully” (p. 36). For urban youth, not only do authentic learning experiences help sustain their interest in sciences (Basu & Narton, 2007); engagement in context-based learning experiences at the K-12 level could significantly increase the diversity of students who participate in STEM classes and ultimately pursue careers in these areas (Custer & Daughtery, 2000).

One useful strategy in addressing the lack of URMs pursuing STEAM education and careers has been the development of precollege summer programs. For examples, pre-college agricultural summer programs have been somewhat effective in addressing the lack of diversity in the agricultural sciences. However, despite the success of pre-college agricultural summer programs, these programs have not engaged URMs high school students in solving real-world problems using contextualized inquiry experiences. By and large, these programs focus primarily on the use of demonstrations, laboratory exercises, field trips/tours, group discussions, and participation in leadership activities. Although this represents a variety of instructional activities, these types of experiences are not ideal in terms of fostering high levels of critical thinking, problem-solving, knowledge synthesis, and skill application which are necessary to help promote and sustain interest in STEAM disciplines. As such, the purpose of this poster will be to share an innovative idea whereby providing underrepresented high school students with contextualized inquiry experiences can effectively serve as a method of increasing their interest in and pursuit of postsecondary education and careers in STEAM disciplines thus resulting in a more diverse workforce.

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  • YDAE Teaching Seminar January 2009
  • YDAE Research Seminar January 2009
  • YDAE Research Seminar January 2009
  • YDAE Teaching Seminar January 2009
  • YDAE Teaching Seminar January 2009
  • Attracting Underrepresented Minorities through Contextualized Learning Experiences. By Levon Esters and Neil Knobloch.

    1. 1. Levon Esters, Ph.D. Neil Knobloch, Ph.D. Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education 1 st Annual G-STEM Symposium February 19, 2010
    2. 2. <ul><li>By 2020, more than 40% of the US college-age population will be members of currently underrepresented minorities (URM’s; NRC, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>URMs are projected to constitute half of all children by 2023 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Recent national data show promise indicating that relative to other students, comparable percentages of URM’s indicate a strong interest in pursuing a scientific major (Hurtado, Han, Saenz, Espinosa, Cabrera, & Cerna, 2007) </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Need to expand and diversify the STEM talent pool </li></ul><ul><li>Workforce diversity in science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math (STEAM) disciples are not being met, especially in terms of underrepresented minorities (URM’s) </li></ul><ul><li>African Americans, Hispanics, and other URM groups: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~25% of the U.S. population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>17.9% of the undergraduate population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2.5% of the STEM majors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6% of the STEM workforce (NRC, 2007) </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>As more attention is given to high-stakes testing, there is a real risk of reducing the opportunities for students to be engaged in contextually authentic science (Buxton, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Providing students authentic activities in contextualized settings will help them to make “real world” connections with STEM that are needed to enhance their knowledge, skills, and abilities in these areas </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>Students connecting the content with the context in which the content could be used (Hull, 1993; Berns & Erickson, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Important component of contextual learning is the use of authentic activities— activities similar to those that take place in the real-world outside of school (Borko & Putnam, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic activity…is important for learners because it is the only way they can access the standpoint that enables practitioners to act meaningfully and purposefully (Brown, Collins, & Duiguid,1989) </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>Authentic learning experiences help sustain urban youth’s interest in sciences (Basu & Narton, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement in context-based learning experiences at the K-12 level could significantly increase the diversity of students who participate in STEM classes and ultimately pursue careers in these areas (Custer & Daughtery, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>STEM diversity programming should include “contextual meaning and personalization” (Davis-Lowe, 2006) </li></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>Urban students often report that what they learn in science lacks relevance to their lives (Fusco, 2001; Nieto, 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Survey of the sciences” approach often found in traditional classrooms and textbooks saps the excitement and curiosity from many urban students (Kahle, Meece, & Scantlebury, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Urban students interest in science is not always cultivated in traditional venues like “school science” (Basu & Barton, 2007) </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>An educational focus on “real-world problems that have no clear answers, are interdisciplinary in nature, are relevant to both the curriculum and students’ lives, are highly visible and accessible” (Bouillion and Gomez, 2001, p. 895) </li></ul><ul><li>The real world of science is not typically assessed in the classroom (Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; Driver et al., 1996; Roth, 1995) </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Urban students have to see some kind of connection between their science learning and lived experiences (Upadhyay, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Urban students may be more likely to engage in science if the topic is one in which they have had some personal experience (Marx, Blumenfield, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1997) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Food </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Health </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Animals </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Environment (Green Space) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Energy </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bioterrorism </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><li>Minority students perform much worse on science regardless of grade level; the same holds in Indiana with African American students having the lowest ISTEP science scores (NAEP, 2009; State of Indiana, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>In most classrooms throughout the state inquiry-based methods are not widely used </li></ul><ul><li>Students report they are bored and are engaged in experiences that are not relevant, challenging, and preparing them for the workplace </li></ul>
    11. 11. % who do not know basic science (Indiana Dept. of Ed., 2009)
    12. 12. <ul><li>Culturally relevant strategy </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>Mini-Grand Challenges (MGC’s) led by multidisciplinary STEAM scientists focusing on various STEM concepts (e.g., engineering, math, or technology) within various agricultural contexts (e.g., horticulture, agricultural engineering, or food science) </li></ul><ul><li>Teams of 5-6 students will then work collaboratively to solve the real-world problems and issues that comprise the MGC’s </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>MGC on the topic of alternative energy which would focus on the STEM concepts of engineering, physics, and technology within the agricultural contexts of agricultural engineering and natural resources </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/ms/challenges.aspx </li></ul><ul><li>https://louisville.edu/kppc/krec/news/press-releases/press-release-080530.html </li></ul>
    15. 15. Table 1. Examples of Mini-Grand Challenge Experiences MGC STEM Concept Ag Context Alternative Energy Science, Technology, and Engineering Agricultural Engineering and Natural Resources Food Security Science, Technology, and Math Food Science and Agricultural Business Non-Therapeutic Antibiotic Use Science, Technology, Engineer, and Math Animal Science and Agricultural Engineering Green Space Utilization Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Horticulture and Agricultural Business
    16. 16. <ul><li>Relevant and real-world connections are critical to increasing URM students’ interest in science </li></ul><ul><li>Contextual learning is key to STEM skill development </li></ul><ul><li>Use of contextual learning experiences to increase workforce diversity in STEAM disciplines is needed </li></ul>
    17. 17. Questions

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