THE STATION1 MODEL FOR SOCIALLY-DIRECTED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Overview

We live in an exciting era of transformation in science and technology, with ever increasing global connectedness that has both the potential for tackling the enduring problems of humanity, but also is rife with ethical and social perils. Education and research in science and technology, rooted in social inquiry, inclusion, and equity is more important than ever to our societal, economic, and cultural survival, let alone progress. Station1 is addressing these key issues through an emerging and evolving education and research model based on socially-directed science and technology inquiry.

The core of the model is a science and technology-focused research and development project, which provides a foundation of inquiry, and may include, for example, engineering design (technological development) or the scientific method. The Station1 shared curriculum aims to create pedagogies and methods which integrate nine cross-disciplinary humanistic themes, into the science and technology research project (see schematic below).

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The integration of STEM with humanistic perspectives has been highlighted in a recent study convened by National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Medicine titled The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree [1]. The Station1 model has drawn foundational concepts and inspiration from the field of science, technology, and society studies [2-3], community-based participatory research [4], equity-based design [5], social innovation [6], service learning [7], course-based undergraduate research [8], the connected curricula [9], and graduate education [10]. Active learning [11], inclusive pedagogies [12] and mentoring [13], and reflection and metacognition [14] are utilized throughout. The combination of a state-of-the-art STEM research project with a contextual, humanistic, and integrative shared curriculum constitutes many high impact pedagogical educational practices (e.g. experiential, project-based learning, community-engaged learning, collaborative inquiry, undergraduate research, internships, interdisciplinary perspectives, etc. [15-16]) which are known to foster the deep and significant learning valued by employers [17-19] and graduate schools.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives of the Station1 educational model include:

  • To understand and gain experience with scientific and technological inquiry, research, and development as a process from conception to knowledge generation to dissemination;

  • To gain technical, conceptual, and practical frontier knowledge and experience in STEM;

  • To understand the broader context of science and technology in relation to society, to gain knowledge of the mechanisms and methods for positive social change, innovation, and impact, and to increase commitment and ability to foster the development of thoughtful, responsible, equitable, and ethical science and technology and;

  • To gain intellectual, personal, and professional experience necessary for socially-directed scientific and technological research and development.

Curricular Components

For the first four days of the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship education, research, and internship program, students participate in an immersive inclusive leadership and collaboration institute (35 hours), in partnership with LeaderShape®, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a just, caring, and thriving world. The curriculum took students on a journey of self-discovery that included cultural awareness and collaboration, identity work, strategies for effective feedback, ethics and values, exploration of dynamics of power and influence, and co-creation of collaborative norms. The orientation also includes custom curricular components developed by Station1 that focused on foundational concepts for personal and professional advancement which serve as a bridge to the Fellows’ frontier science and technology internship research projects and the full Station1 shared curriculum. The Station1 orientation creates a cohesive, inclusive, and supportive learning community which served as a strong foundation for student participation and success. More information on the Station1 orientation can be found here.

Students participate in 270 hours (Tuesdays-Fridays) of research project experience in internships and 100 hours of instruction in the shared curriculum (Mondays and evenings) delivered by a team of interdisciplinary instructors over 10 weeks. 30 integrative modules have been developed and the students completed various assignments including three major project deliverables that integrate their internship project with the shared curriculum, and which creates a more consistent and effective internship learning experience. The curriculum, involves a combination of learning at the unique Station1 learning space and activities out in the City of Lawrence (see photos below).

 
 
The Station1 Fellows and instructors, Kathleen Flynn, Head Researcher, and Amita Kiley, Collections Manager and Research Coordinator, at the Lawrence History Center (Lawrence, Massachusetts) discussing the unique role of technology in the city planning of Lawrence, hydropower, manufacturing infrastructure, and immigrant history.

The Station1 Fellows and instructors, Kathleen Flynn, Head Researcher, and Amita Kiley, Collections Manager and Research Coordinator, at the Lawrence History Center (Lawrence, Massachusetts) discussing the unique role of technology in the city planning of Lawrence, hydropower, manufacturing infrastructure, and immigrant history.

The Station1 Fellows and instructors visiting the Great Stone Dam in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts as part of the Station1 shared curriculum topic on science and technology innovation, maintenance, and infrastructure.

The Station1 Fellows and instructors visiting the Great Stone Dam in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts as part of the Station1 shared curriculum topic on science and technology innovation, maintenance, and infrastructure.

Through the shared curriculum, The Station1 Fellows are able to construct a systems view of their research project and their field of study in STEM situated in a broader social context. They are provided with integrative knowledge, tools, and methods with which to elucidate root causes, contributing factors, dynamics, interrelations, incentive structures, ethical and equity issues, stakeholders, historical trajectories, and unintended consequences. The students are challenged to interrogate the complexity, ambiguity, trade-offs, and compromises of social structures and systems that shape science and technology, in particular related to their own STEM research project.

The Station1 Fellows are also provided with a curriculum focused on continuous personal and professional advancement. Early in the program, students identified personal and professional goals, which they refined throughout the program with their peers to promote self-directed learning. Practical aspects of employment are covered such as review of online application strategies including resources and use of application systems, interview preparation, resume/cover letter writing, and conducting self-initiated outreach. Key topics include ethnography of workplace environments, inclusive mentoring (from both a mentor and mentee perspective), scientific and technical writing and speaking, the creation of a professional online digital presence, professional relationships and networking, intercultural communications and collaboration, professional ethics, resources for global education experiences, and fundamentals of graduate education and admissions.

Dedicated time is allocated for reflection to foster self-directed learning, mentorship, and support as students shared and provided feedback with each other on their professional experiences at their internships. The weekly curriculum was complemented by one-on-one advising appointments made available to students which allowed students to discuss personalized academic and career plans, support advancement in the internship, and allowed the students to self-direct their professional learning. These sessions both elevated the students’ performance in the internships and set a foundation for future personal and professional growth.

The results from a student poll (an active learning tool) carried out during the shared curriculum in summer 2018 on the most important intellectual, personal, and professional abilities for scientific and technical careers and research represented as a word cloud, where the larger the font size the greater the number of responses.

The results from a student poll (an active learning tool) carried out during the shared curriculum in summer 2018 on the most important intellectual, personal, and professional abilities for scientific and technical careers and research represented as a word cloud, where the larger the font size the greater the number of responses.

Drawing upon the Association of American Colleges and Universities VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) [20] rubrics for liberal arts education and employer survey data [17-19], the learning activities for all programmatic components are mapped to the following intellectual, personal, and professional learning outcomes: inquiry, research, technical, and problem-solving, social context, responsibility, and engagement, critical thinking, creative thinking, computational thinking, multimodal communication, inclusive leadership and collaboration across cultures, intercultural knowledge, experience, and competence, ethical reasoning, integrative learning, analytical, quantitative, information, and data literacy, and personal and professional abilities. To promote efficacy of learning, these learning outcomes are contextualized to and integrated with the students' research project and specific STEM field of study, rather than being provided in a separate, disconnected manner.

Adapted from existing methods [8-9, 21], evaluation data includes direct assessment of student learning by instructors through student generated work and retrospective (post) student and internship mentor surveys that evaluated experiences and perspectives on the quality, satisfaction, and inclusiveness of the internship and Station1 learning environment. These data from 2018 indicated that the program was academically, personally, and professionally transformative for the Fellows, providing students with a rigorous foundation for implementing thoughtful, responsible, equitable, and ethical scientific research and technological development, an enhanced internship project experience, and enormous personal and professional growth. The program and its’ intellectual, personal, and professional learning outcomes set a foundation for academic success, employability upon graduation, social responsibility, engagement, and impact, lifelong learning and long-term career advancement in dynamically changing STEM fields.

The Station1 team is currently building out STEM discipline-specific versions of the social inquiry curriculum at MIT through two grants from the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (MIT J-WEL) and will be hosting a short course for educators in the Fall of 2019. For further information on the Station1 curriculum and the Fall 2019 short course, please contact Dr. Ellan Spero, co-founder and Chief Curriculum Officer at Station1.

References

  1. The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree 2018, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine: Washington DC.

  2. (2016). The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press.

  3. (1999). The Science Studies Reader, Routledge.

  4. Reid, C., E. Brief, et al. (2009). Our Common Ground: Cultivating Women’s Health through Community-Based Research: A Primer. Vancouver, British Columbia, Women’s Health Research Network.

  5. Hill, C., M. Molitor, et al. (2016). EquityXDesign: Racism and Inequity are Products of Design. They Can Be Redesigned. Medium Corporation.

  6. Phills, Jr., K. Deiglmeier, et al. (2008). "Rediscovering Social Innovation." Stanford Social Innovation Review.

  7. Stoecker, R. (2016). Liberating Service Learning and the Rest of Higher Education Civic Engagement, Temple University Press.

  8. Auchincloss, L.C., et al., Assessment of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences: A Meeting Report. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 2014. 13: p. 29–40.

  9. Fung, D. (2017). A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, UCL Press.

  10. Maki, P. L. and N. A. Borkowski (2006). The Assessment of Doctoral Education: Emerging Criteria and New Models for Improving Outcomes, Stylus Publishing.

  11. Freeman, S., et al., Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. PNAS, 2014. 111 (23): p. 8410–8415.

  12. Tanner, K.D., Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2013. 12: p. 322-331.

  13. Pfund, C., et al., Defining Attributes and Metrics of Effective Research Mentoring Relationships. AIDS Behav. , 2016. 2(Suppl. 2): p. 238-48.

  14. Pintrich, P.R., The Role of Metacognitive Knowledge in Learning, Teaching, and Assessing. Theory Into Practice, 2002. 41(4): p. 219–225.

  15. Kuh, G.D., High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter, 2008, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). p. 44.

  16. Brownell, J.E. and L.E. Swaner, High-Impact Practices: Applying the Learning Outcomes Literature to the Development of Successful Campus Programs. Peer Review, 2009. 11 (2).

  17. Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work- Surveys of Business Executives and Hiring Managers, 2018, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U): Washington DC.

  18. Gray, K. and A. Koncz, The Key Attributes Employers Seek on Students' Resumes, 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers.: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

  19. Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success: Selected Findings from Online Surveys of Employers and College Students Conducted on Behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities 2015, Hart Research Associates: Washington DC.

  20. VALUE Rubric Development Project, 2007, Association of American Colleges & Universities.

  21. Laursen, S., A.-B. Hunter, et al. (2010). Undergraduate Research in the Sciences: Engaging Students in Real Science, Josey-Bass.

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