The Georgia Tech Student and Teacher Enhancement Partnership (STEP) Program partners Graduate Students Fellows with metro-Atlanta area high school teams that are led by master teacher-coordinators. The program seeks to improve the teaching-related communication and leadership skills of Georgia Tech students and to use the exceptional scholarly expertise available at Georgia Tech to assist in increasing the mathematics and science performance of Atlanta-area school students. STEP Fellows participate in summer training workshops to familiarize them with inquiry-based learning pedagogy, classroom management and effective teaching skills, and appropriate uses of educational technologies. They also work with high school personnel to develop a needs assessment and action plan for the school. During the school year they work in teams (each having at least two Georgia Tech students) with their partner school, choosing activities from a menu of options that includes: 1) Student instruction, 2) Teacher professional development, 3) Student enrichment and mentoring, 4) Implementation of classroom websites, 5) Science fair project assistance, and 6) Georgia Tech lab tours.
Goals and Objectives
The Georgia Tech STEP Program has two overarching goals:
To improve the teaching-related, communication, and leadership skills of participating Georgia Tech students.
To use the exceptional scholarly expertise available at the Georgia Institute of Technology to assist the local metro-Atlanta area school systems in increasing the mathematics, science and engineering performance of Atlanta-area high school students.
The specific objectives of the Georgia Tech STEP Program are:
To provide participating Fellows with the necessary training required to enable them to effectively communicate standards-based science and mathematics to both high school students from diverse backgrounds and high school science and mathematics teachers.
To pair the Fellows with master teachers in metro-Atlanta area high schools to enable them to experience effective teaching methods and real-life teaching challenges.
To provide the Fellows with rewarding practicum experiences during which they can practice science and mathematics pedagogy and classroom management strategies by engaging in direct inquiry-based science content instruction during in-school classes and after-school enrichment activities.
To introduce high school teachers and students to the use of appropriate educational technologies that complement and strengthen their course curricula and that provide increased opportunity for inquiry learning by students.
To facilitate the development of constructive mentoring relationships between the Georgia Tech Fellows and students from participating high schools, and between the participating teachers and the Georgia Tech students and faculty. These relationships are encouraged through the use of actual and virtual field trips, class visits, in-school tutoring and mentoring, and electronic communication.
For STEP Fellows and Georgia Tech:
The primary benefits anticipated for the STEP Fellows are an improvement in their skills related to science and mathematics teaching, communication, and general leadership. The experiences of working with accomplished classroom teachers engaged in classroom instruction and also of helping teachers master new academic content material will provide the STEP Fellows with invaluable teaching and leadership experiences. Tutoring and mentoring high school students will also strengthen the STEP participants' communication skills and increase their understanding of the diversity of humanity.
The STEP Fellows will also gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of the educational challenges that affect the pipeline producing our next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers. This understanding is necessary in order to strengthen the partnership between the academic scientific and engineering community and the school systems that provide them with their students. Specifically, we anticipate that closer connections between Georgia Tech and the surrounding school systems will result in more students, particularly those from under-represented minority groups, enrolling in STEM degree programs at Georgia Tech.
An additional benefit to the institution will be that the STEP Fellows will help to disseminate the value of the experience to a wider population. Results of this program will be shared with the Georgia Tech community to promote increased interaction between Georgia Tech faculty and K-12 educators.
For K-12 Education:
The participating K-12 community will benefit from this program in many ways. Teachers will obtain new content knowledge, an improved understanding of science, the scientific process, and the integrated nature of knowledge, and develop valuable personal connections to scientists and engineers at Georgia Tech. High school students will benefit from improved science teaching, and will interact with classroom mentors who have chosen to pursue science, mathematics or engineering as a career. Additionally, the involvement of STEP Fellows with high school science, math, or computer clubs has the potential of providing these organizations with the help and energy needed to make these clubs into very viable student-achievement based organizations. In addition, this program provides an opportunity for Georgia Tech students to further explore high school teaching as a potential career choice.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DGE-0338261.
Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).