It’s Contagious! Promoting the Biomedical Workforce Pipeline through Infectious Diseases
Education, like biomedical science, is data reliant. Yet, teachers are rarely provided training in data and data analysis resulting in a gap in essential knowledge. The program will address this gap by providing data literacy professional development through the Teachers as Researchers (TaR) program (Aim 1). The program is located at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) a private, non-profit infectious disease research facility that studies infectious diseases, including COVD-19. With a focus on infectious diseases, teachers will combine their data literacy skill training and pedagogical expertise to develop Classroom to Career Connections (C2C2) activities to increase student knowledge about infectious diseases through research-generated data (Aim 2). Teachers spend much of their careers in isolation which can negatively affect teaching practices and students. Through a Community of Practice (CoP), teachers will engage in discourse with cohort colleagues, Texas Biomed researchers, and program staff to share, evaluate and reflect upon data outcomes from student C2C2 activities to gauge effectiveness of activities pertaining to knowledge regarding infectious diseases and career connections. Within the CoP, teachers engage in reflective discussions regarding data outcomes and the impact of these data on their teaching practices (Aim 3).
The U.S.’s workforce will need 1 million more STEM professionals over the next decade. The U.S. has taken critical steps toward growing the STEM workforce (National Academies, 2010; National Science Board, 2010), implementing interventions from elementary to college to inform students about opportunities in STEM. Yet, teachers are often underserved by these initiatives, resulting in a critical gap in sustaining the biomedical pipeline. Teachers are strong influencers of student career decisions with most students who elect to pursue a biomedical-related career do so during high school. As the frontline of our nation’s future, teachers address students’ educational needs and fortify the biomedical career pipeline. Education, like biomedical science, is data reliant. Yet, teachers are rarely provided training in data and data analysis resulting in a gap in essential knowledge. The program addresses data literacy gaps by providing data literacy professional development through the Teachers as Researchers (TaR) program (Aim 1). To address the increasing need for biomedical professionals, the program, infectious disease researchers located at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) discuss current infectious disease research with program teachers. Teachers then combine their data literacy skills and pedagogical expertise to develop Classroom to Career Connections (C2C2) activities designed to increase student knowledge about infectious diseases through research-generated data (Aim 2). Within a Community of Practice (CoP), teachers have the opportunity to engage with their colleagues to discuss C2C2 activities’ effectiveness to strengthen the connection between existing curriculum and biomedical research careers. As teaching can be an isolating profession, the CoP provides teachers opportunity to learn from one another as they use data-driven evidence to inform current and future teaching practices (Aim 3).
(1) Online: Texas Biomedical Research Institute Education webpage (https://www.txbiomed.org/education-outreach/educational-resources/curricular-units/). Ensure TaR and C2C2 modules are intuitively designed for use by teachers, in person and virtually, at the local and national levels.
(2) Academic Conferences and Publications: The Principal Investigator and a select Teacher Leader will travel to the annual SciEd Conference as well as local education and STEM conferences to present the findings of this project. In order to showcase project outcomes the team will publish manuscripts in scientific and education journals, with one Principal Investigator traveling to the annual American Educational Research Association to present study findings.
(3) Project Ambassadors: Teacher Leaders serve as project ambassadors, presenting workshops about the project to area education collaboratives and at regional and state science educator conferences. Within their ambassador role, Teacher Leaders will meet with the pre-service teachers and school leadership to present information about the project.
Secondary STEM Teachers, defined as 6th – 12th grade teachers whose content includes, but is not limited to science (general science, biology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology), math, career & technology, anatomy & physiology, and health.
Data literacy; data-driven decision making; mentorship; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research approaches; curriculum development; biomedical and infectious disease research careers; networking skills