It's About TIME for Real Science: The Effect of Program Design on Program Outcomes

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Jennifer Williams, Brevard High School, Brevard, NC
Background: The year-long TIME 4 Real Science program was designed to increase student competence in science, enthusiasm for science and interest in pursuing research or other science-related careers. Initiated in 2007 as a summer and After-School Program (ASP), students learn about the process of science as they conduct original scientific research into locally important topics of their own choosing. They are supported by both teacher and scientist mentors as they choose a topic of interest, develop a testable question, design experimental procedures, collect and analyze data and present their findings to the community.  The TIME program philosophy is that if students are given adequate TIME to engage in true INQUIRY into their own questions, and find that they and their new findings MATTER to others, they will continue to EXPLORE more opportunities in science.  Based on preliminary data, the program was modified to a School-Day Course (SDC) with summer and after-school components in 2011.  Methods: Student participants in both versions of the TIME 4 Real Science Program were surveyed using the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student Science Enrichment Program Survey. Additional data was collected measuring student participation in science competitions and advancement to national/international competitions. Results: Comparison between the program models (ASP, n=72; SDC, n=70) indicates greater gains in program outcomes for the school-day model as evidenced by student responses on the following Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student Science Enrichment Program survey questions: Because of the TIME program, I am more interested in learning science (70%ASP:93%SDC), thinking about taking more science classes (70%ASP:91%SDC), and thinking more about getting a job in a science related career (45%ASP:80%SDC).  Six ASP students versus seventy SDC students entered one or more science competitions.  Eight percent of ASP students versus twenty-seven percent of SDC students advanced to national or international science competitions.   Conclusion and Discussion: The school-day course trumps the after-school course in all measured aspects.  Increased gains demonstrated by the school-day model could be explained by an increased time commitment, more consistent meeting times, more experienced mentors, more consistent contact with volunteer scientists, and the expectation that students enter their work in one or more science competitions.  In addition, it is possible that returning students participating in the school-day model exert a positive influence on the program climate, affecting other students’ level of engagement and achievement.