In-school Internships for Students and Teachers in Under-served Schools

  • Abstract

    This SEPA application from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research seeks to create and implement 20 novel hands-on inquiry-centered activities specifically aligned with the curricular indicators in a General Biology course in highly disadvantaged high schools beginning with Northwestern High School in Prince George’s County Maryland. The biology modules will be taught by near-peer mentors/well-trained college students to comprehensive general biology students, those deemed unprepared in terms of college preparation in math and science, from mostly under-represented groups in scientific professions.

    The proposed program outlined in this application seeks to perform efficacy evaluations through attitude surveys and specific task-based assessments of this in-classroom intervention. The hands-on activities and near-peer mentor training materials will be available on a Wiki further developed through this project. Moreover many of these inquiry-based activities will utilize available apps on smart phones for their classroom implementation.

    The hypothesis is that near-peer mentors/well-trained—often minority college students in biology and biomedical programs at area colleges and universities or recently graduated from them—can improve the attitudes and concept learning of students in a 10th grade general biology course in Maryland. This study will also evaluate high school assessments from this cohort of students from this high school with a paired demographically matched high school in Prince George’s County.

    Dissemination of the materials and program will be accomplished in the paired school where intervention did not occur but in a subsequent year of 10th grade General Biology students. Additional schools will be involved in dissemination in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

    The Specific Aims are as follows.

    1) To provide in-school in-classroom internships for general biology students through weekly investigations/mentoring provided by college interns (termed near-peer mentors).

    • Approximately 20 original inquiry investigations will be developed to reflect authentic research and provide students with practical applications. The investigations will reinforce the six expectations or concepts of biology required by Maryland’s High School Assessments.
    • Proposed Curriculum for this Proposal: Serial Dilutions Molarity and Normality Bacteriophages Eubacteria Fungi Tetrahymena—Eukaryotes Robotics in Biomedicine

    2) To provide underserved students in selected Prince George’s County high schools with opportunities to practice science through learning fundamental laboratory skills and doing investigations with scientific methodology that encourage thoughtful analysis of their data and critical reflection on its meaning.

    • The laboratory skills become increasingly complex to parallel students growing conceptual understanding from the investigations with growing technical abilities.
    • Smart phones and tablets with scientific apps will be used during experimentation.

    3) To support undergraduates and recent post-baccalaureates (near-peer mentors) in a joint research and education internship.

    • Near-peer mentors mature in technical skills laboratory management abilities and research design proficiencies while simultaneously mentoring secondary students and improving their own oral and written communication skills.
    • A Wiki resource will be created/augmented as a resource for these activities.

    4) To give classroom teachers the opportunity to learn innovative strategies for uniting scientific concepts with laboratory investigations and their accompanying process and skills.

    • The Wiki resource site with all available activities created under this project will be available to teachers.

Associated SEPA Project(s)