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Supporting the Development of Science Communication Skills in STEM University Students: Understanding their learning experiences as they work in middle and high school classrooms

Abstract

"This paper examines the roles that 52 university Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students play in an Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership that connects several middle schools, high schools, institutions of higher learning, businesses, and community institutions. It also examines the support these students feel are necessary to be successful in their roles, as well as what they feel the experience has taught them about science communication. Results from both qualitative and quantitative data, including surveys, interviews, observations, and artifact collection indicate that the most common experiences that the students had in the schools were assisting teachers in conducting labs, leading small group activities/discussions with students in class, demonstrating scientific content, procedures, tools, and techniques, and assisting teachers in teaching lessons. Most students felt these activities benefited their ability to work as a team, lead a team, facilitate group discussions, teach STEM concepts and methods, and generate others' interest in STEM research and activities. However, it was found that some tasks that the students were involved in provided more of a chance to practice their science communication skills than others. In order to be successful in these roles, nearly all of the students felt that support from the classroom teacher they were working with was necessary."

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