This project is a partnership between Xavier and participating local high schools. The long-term objective of this collaboration is to stimulate science interest in high school students in the New Orleans area as a precursor to them pursuing careers in the biomedical sciences or STEM fields. The XULA-MOLE project also aims to better support science teachers with pedagogical and research project design training and mentoring to increase their impact in the classroom. The introduction of mobile inquiry-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) centered laboratory experiences will encourage high school students in this resource poor setting to pursue further education and careers in scientific fields.
The Xavier University of Louisiana’s Mobile Outreach for Laboratory Enrichment (XULA-MOLE) project hinges on addressing the severe lack of experiential learning opportunities and teacher retention programs within a large number of New Orleans area high school science classrooms. Although all of the public schools were assumed within the charter model after Hurricane Katrina, it is evident that there is a wide disparity in the resources and infrastructure that are afforded to individual schools. National and state assessments for the target New Orleans area schools have been historically low. Education reform in the State has led to the introduction of rigorous new state science standards. However, these changes have not been impactful due to their misalignment with the curricula currently used in the classrooms. The “results-oriented” expectations have placed undue burden on science teachers who are not provided with the necessary training and support to design novel curricula to meet their students’ needs. The objective of this R25 application is to use inquiry-based laboratory learning, professional development for teachers, and near-peer mentorship to address some of these existing challenges. The ultimate goal of XULA-MOLE is to increase the interest of high school students for science activities, which will ultimately propel them to pursue careers in the STEM fields and the biomedical sciences.
The Specific Aims for this project are summarized below:
Aim 1: To develop and incorporate inquiry-based laboratory activities within high school science classrooms as well as expose high school students to biomedical research being conducted by XULA undergraduates.
Aim 2: To implement professional development workshops to prepare high school teachers in relevant pedagogical topics and in designing a classroom research project.
Aim 3: To train XULA undergraduate students to serve as near-peer mentors to high school students, and to help the high school teachers initiate a peer mentoring session.
The general strategy for this proposed work will be carried out via a four-pronged approach involving (i) inquiry-based laboratory experiences, (ii) professional development and research design training for teachers, (iii) establishing near-peer mentoring programs between Xavier undergraduates and their pre-college peers and (iv) high school field trips to biomedical research labs at Xavier.
High school students and teachers
Xavier undergraduate students
Teachers professional development