Project Narrative This SEPA project will develop graphic novels (GN) and documentary (DOC) style videos to encourage STEM education in 7th and 9th grade students. The GN and DOC will be comprehensively evaluated during development for effectiveness and interest compared to traditional classroom delivery. Teachers participating in the program will receive professional development training to receive the skills necessary to confidently deliver the new materials. All finished products will be made freely available for dissemination.
Project Summary Education for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is critical to prepare students for careers within the biomedical sciences. Research indicates that traditional science teaching focused on rote memorization decontextualizes learning and diminishes students’ willingness to engage in science education. Well-designed educational media can support strong science-focused teacher pedagogy and foster student interest in science topics and STEM careers. Educational media assets such as digital videos and graphic novels assets provide grounding contexts that support varied learning assessments, STEM interest, and intention to pursue related careers. Such educational media resources support long term students team-based collaboration, growth in assessed learning outcomes, and provide exposure to possible STEM career choices. The proposed educational media can be quickly developed and widely distributed through common, existing digital platforms, making it a promising approach for broad dissemination. Comprehensive evaluation is needed to determine whether the proposed graphic novel or documentary video media are more effective than traditional lecture and readings-based science instruction. The overall hypothesis of this SEPA is that well-designed educational media treatments can be more effective than traditional STEM subject instruction to grow interest in related fields, increased knowledge retention, and improved student STEM career intention. Three aims will be used to test the hypothesis: Aim 1: Create science-based graphic novel and documentary videos with supporting lesson plans, as well as isometric traditionally delivered, face-to-face lessons that will be used to comprehensively and longitudinally test the project hypotheses with 7th and 9th grade students. Aim 2: Conduct evaluations of the graphic novel and documentary video educational media treatments with diverse populations of students to determine their effectiveness in delivering STEM educational materials, explore whether the digital curricula and media improve student interest in STEM topics, and whether exposure to the digital materials improves student intentions to pursue STEM careers. Aim 3: Provide teacher professional development to train teachers to effectively deliver the digitally delivered educational media.