Kirk Knestis PhD - Inciter, Evaluand LLC
Joselina Cheng - University of Central Oklahoma
Claire M. Fontaine - Inciter
Rebekah Feng - Becks Intelligence Group

This paper has two goals: First, to detail processes through which a project funded under a National Science Foundation workforce development program (Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers, ITEST) leveraged active partnerships among government agencies, industry firms, and universities to develop and study an innovative, out-of-school information system and technology workforce education program. The aim of the program was to improve equity of opportunity for high school girls. The program engaged young women from underrepresented subgroups in data science, analytics, information communication technology, and programming learning activities in an experiential, law enforcement computer forensics context. This description of the research team’s process is intended as inspiration and guidance to others considering developing similar programs targeting workforce development in science and technical fields through an equity lens.

Second, this paper shares reflections from senior project personnel on lessons learned while working with cross-sector collaborations, including challenges encountered while implementing components of the program facilitated by the partnership model. The authors adopt a reflective practice orientation, considering implications regarding the most useful—and evolving—roles that cross-sector partnerships might play in developing programs to help students traditionally underrepresented in technical fields be more aware of, interested in, and prepared for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In so doing, the authors offer insights about how university partners might address potential tensions involved in such collaborations.

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Kirk Knestis PhD - Evaluand LLC Founding Principal

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 (NCLB) has been a key influence on my professional work as an education researcher and program evaluator. This was mostly through an accident of timing, as NCLB came to be just as I was finishing my PhD and starting the most recent of my several careers. Re-authorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NCLB was best known to the public for the emphasis it placed on standardized testing of K-12 students. However, the aspect of the Act that arguably most drove the everyday efforts of people studying education programs has been the expectation that teaching and learning innovations be studied using rigorous research methods akin to those applied in medical fields.

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David Reider - Evaluation Design Inc.
Kirk Knestis - Evaluand LLC
Joyce Malyn-Smith - Education Development Center Inc.

This article proposes a STEM workforce education logic model, tailored to the particular context of the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program. This model aims to help program designers and researchers address challenges particular to designing, implementing, and studying education innovations in the ITEST program, considering ongoing needs and challenges in STEM workforce education in the USA. It is grounded in conceptual frameworks developed previously by teams of ITEST constituents, for their part intended to frame STEM career education, consider how people select and prepare for STEM careers, and reinforce the important distinction between STEM content and STEM career learnings. The authors take a first step in what they hope will be an ongoing discussion and research agenda by test-fitting assumptions of the model to exploratory case studies of recent NSF ITEST projects. Brief implications for future research and other considerations are provided.

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