A Summer Stem Outreach Program Run By Graduate Students: Successes, Challenges, And Recommendations For Implementation
Providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experiences to middle and high school students outside of traditional classroom settings is critical in preparing learners to be literate in these fields. At the same time, providing graduate students in science and mathematics with independent pedagogical opportunities that prepare them to effectively teach and communicate STEM subjects to the general public are exceedingly rare. Here, we present the Foundations in Science and Mathematics program (FSM), a rapidly growing summer STEM educational program operated entirely by graduate students at Indiana University, Bloomington, that seeks to achieve both of these goals. First, we detail the organization and scope of FSM, the extent to which it grew since its founding in 2011, and the general aims and design of its courses. Second, we address the demographic composition of the program, and evaluate its pedagogical success through learning evaluations and student surveys that gauge student academic improvement and course satisfaction, respectively. Overall, we find that FSM significantly increased student learning and that courses were given favorable reviews by students. Finally, we discuss the logistical operation of FSM, with the goal of assisting motivated graduate students in developing similar programs at other academic institutions. In combination, we find that FSM was highly successful at achieving its goals of enhancing student learning and promoting effective pedagogy among graduate students, and we encourage other institutions to establish similar programs in their own academic communities.