Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured
STOMP has a number of indicators of success. There has been a continued high interest level from teachers applying to the program and undergraduate engineers applying to support those teachers. To date, nearly 300 undergraduates and 140 teachers have teamed up to serve an estimated 2400 area students. Undergraduate students who have participated in STOMP have started STOMP outreach programs at other universities as well as at corporations where they have gone on work. STOMP participants who go on to graduate students cite their STOMP experience as being useful as they go on to be teaching assistants.
Metrics have been a challenging aspect for STOMP as the hour per week fellows spend in the classroom doing different types of lessons is a small amount of time compared to students and teachers other experiences. STOMP has become a an area of interest for research in the Department of Education at Tufts. Adam Carberry's 2010 doctoral dissertation looked at service learning experiences for undergraduate engineering students, which includes STOMP as well as other programs. Using survey instruments, Carberry found that when students were asked to assess where they learned various engineering knowledge and skills, students targeted their service learning experience as being a significant learning source for their technical knowledge as well as their "soft skills" (communication, project management). This suggests that STOMP's impact on the undergraduate students is as significant as much of their coursework.
In addition, this past year, Elsa Head, a master's student in the Department of Education looked at a cross section of teachers involved in STOMP. She did classroom observations as well as administered engineering self-efficacy surveys of teachers who were new to STOMP, had been in STOMP for 2-4 years, and those than have been in STOMP for more than 5 years. Her results indicated that teachers who had been in STOMP for multiple years had a higher engineering self-efficacy than newer STOMP teachers, suggesting that STOMP helps develop teacher's confidence in implementing engineering. Her classroom observations also indicated that teachers presentation of engineering design also evolve as they participate in STOMP. Teachers who were newer to STOMP had more simplistic, formulaic presentation of engineering design while older teachers were able to be thoughtful about engineering design as a model that can help guide design activity. These two pieces of research are supportive of the positive impact STOMP is having. They will be used to inform future development of metrics as we look for funding to support evaluation.
How will your project evolve over the next three years?
With demonstrated interest in this method of K-12 outreach, STOMP is looking for funding to improve teacher professional development as well as evaluation and research. To that end, STOMP was recently awarded a grant from the Verizon Foundation to develop a STOMP experience that focuses on women (W-STOMP). The funding will provide funding for ten 4th and 5th grade teachers to participate in professional development focused on how to engage girls in engineering, female STOMP undergraduate engineering mentors for those classrooms, and a summer camp experience for the 4th and 5th grade students. The W-STOMP program will look at how student interest change over the course of the program as well as the teacher's self-efficacy and confidence.