Cross-Sector Partnerships: Models for Student Learning in STEM

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Ellen Mappen, National Center for Science & Civic Engagement, Washington, DC
The SENCER-ISE (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities – Informal Science Education) initiative was developed with the goal of bringing together higher education faculty and informal science professionals in equitable and sustainable partnerships that engage students and the general public in meaningful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning. With funding from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1237463) and The Noyce Foundation, ten cross-sector partnerships are currently supported by a central infrastructure at the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. The partnerships were formed to focus on learning through the framework of an important civic issue such as coastal resilience, invasive species, urban ecology, forest health, and the public understanding of genomics. Through formative and summative evaluations developed with an external evaluator (on-line questionnaires and interviews) and a Learning Circle where the partners will reflect on what they have learned from their joint efforts, the investigators are examining the role of the central support infrastructure in sustaining collaborations through resources provided to the institutional partnerships (financial, training in evaluation, general advice on challenges that arise, and other operational matters) and also exploring the collaborative relationships between professionals from different educational sectors and how these partnerships can benefit the populations they serve. With the guidance of the external evaluator, individual partnerships also developed outcome indicators to assess the impact of their projects on the audiences they serve (ranging from parents of young children to citizen scientists to teachers and high school students). Results from the formative evaluation, which will be available by late fall, will relate the importance of such a central infrastructure for supporting the cross-sector collaborations and the challenges that are faced by the partners and their institutions in maintaining their work. The poster will also discuss the partnerships’ outcome indicators and how they are being met. Overall, the results will be used to add to the knowledge base on cross-sector partnerships, especially how the unique feature of using the framework of civic engagement can bring about a cross-sector partnership that truly engages students and the general public in science practices.