1. Jim Sandherr
  2. Research Associate
  3. Divas SUCcEed: Sowing Urban Computational Electronic Designers in Middle School to Increase Female Participants in STEM Fields Majors Tomorrow
  4. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Caitlin K. Martin
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/cailtlin-martin/
  3. Divas SUCcEed: Sowing Urban Computational Electronic Designers in Middle School to Increase Female Participants in STEM Fields Majors Tomorrow
  4. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  5. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
  1. Asia Roberson
  2. Divas SUCcEed: Sowing Urban Computational Electronic Designers in Middle School to Increase Female Participants in STEM Fields Majors Tomorrow
  3. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  4. Digital Youth Network, DePaul University
Presenters’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Michael Falk

    Michael Falk

    Professor
    May 16, 2016 | 11:25 a.m.

    A wonderful combination of STEM, narrative, art and social engagement. Very inspiring! I’m wondering what age group you reach and how long this program has been going on. Also, do you have plans to keep in touch with the girls to assess long-term outcomes? How would you achieve that if so?

  • Icon for: Caitlin K. Martin

    Caitlin K. Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 01:51 p.m.

    Thanks for starting the discussion! The Digital Youth Divas program is specifically designed for middle school girls, ages 11-13. The program has been in existence for three years, starting in the summer of 2014. Because this is a design-based research project, each implementation is modified based on findings from the previous cycle, so it continues to be a work in progress. We look at outcomes across the duration of the program (the current implementation is 21 weeks), through survey data as well as qualitative cases, including family perspectives. We do plan to follow girls through multiple years in the program, and are expanding to our second year of participation in the fall (so girls who started this year with the first year of programming can return for a second year).

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 08:51 p.m.

    There are several other projects advocating for the use of narrative to support learners who are new to STEM but are using narrative in slightly different ways from the way you are using it here. Here it seems the expectation is that the girls in the program will emulate the characters in the story to some extent. How is this different or the same from an online app that incorporates narrative as a mechanism to help learners follow along (see for instance the film in this showcase: Guppy Guppy evolution)

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 09:39 a.m.

    Great question! One of the major differences between our narrative and apps or games that incorporate narrative elements is that our narrative exists as a standalone story that one could read, or watch, on its own, and that narrative, in various media formats, exists within iRemix, our online social learning network. Students experience portions of the narrative on an activity page in iRemix, paired with instructions for the activity linked to the narrative, and supplemental resources to help them complete the activity. Then, we have a staff of online mentors that operate profiles for the fictional characters, and the characters leave the girls feedback on their work, and send them personalized messages around their work. There isn’t a singular, gamified experience through which a student proceeds as in most apps. This has been both fascinating to observe, and challenging to implement as the interactions between students and the fictional characters unfold. Thank you for recommending the Guppy Evolution app, I will be checking out that video!

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 12:58 p.m.

    It would also really be worth checking out the work by Smith College and Springfield Technical College “Through My Window” which uses narrative for engineering education.

    They also have a video in this showcase: http://videohall.com/p/733

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 01:03 p.m.

    I really like the idea of keeping character profiles for the fictional characters that learners can pose questions to etc. I wonder how heavy workload for that ends up being – and if there are ways to use peer-mentoring to keep the costs down or in lieu of paying someone to maintain a strong back and forth thread. Finding a way to streamline that process without loosing authenticity seems important to keep it viable over the long term.

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 04:23 p.m.

    You are absolutely correct in considering the workload, it has definitely been a challenge for us, and will become even more difficult to sustain when scaling up. It’s also a very unique role, a sort of role playing ability is required, and that isn’t easy for most people to do, at least not on top of other duties. We’ve also been working with more streamlined, automated messages, and that is a more likely path for us in the future.

  • Icon for: Tamara Ball

    Tamara Ball

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 08:54 p.m.

    Also curious to think about the differences between inquiry and discovery learning in relation to this project.

  • Icon for: Isabel Huff

    Isabel Huff

    Program Outreach Coordinator
    May 17, 2016 | 11:20 a.m.

    I’m always excited to see narrative included in STEM education! Where did the multimedia stories come from (who wrote them) and is there a way for the public to access them?

  • Icon for: Brendan Calandra

    Brendan Calandra

    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 12:44 p.m.

    I really like this project, and I would also like to know whether the public can access these stories.

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 04:15 p.m.

    The narratives for this project were certainly a collaborative effort, we’ve worked through many design cycles that included our own research and implementation team here at the Digital Youth Network, professional authors, animators, and comic book artists. We’re excited to know that there is an interest in viewing the narratives, so we are working right now to get them up for public viewing, so stay tuned! We hadn’t made them available to the public before because they’ve been a constant work in progress.

  • Icon for: Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Shannon Carlin-Menter

    Research Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 11:28 a.m.

    This is great! If another institution or organization was interested in offering a program like this in their community, do you offer curriculum guides or materials?

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 04:17 p.m.

    Thank you! As we are still testing and researching many components of this complex blended learning program, we do not have the curriculum or PD materials available yet, but that is one of our goals for the future. Please stay in touch!

  • Icon for: Michael Falk

    Michael Falk

    Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 04:42 p.m.

    In response to a question above you note that in the context of the narrative, “Then, we have a staff of online mentors that operate profiles for the fictional characters, and the characters leave the girls feedback on their work, and send them personalized messages around their work.” Isn’t this a bit problematic? To what extent are the girls engaged in this role play aware of the identities of the adult mentors they happen to be role playing with? What does it mean for a girl of this age to interact with a character identified as a girl of color with a disability, but receive a constructed response from an online mentor who may be a white non-disabled male assuming that identity? It would seem to raise issues both for the girls and the mentors, of trust, identity and authenticity. I am assuming that somehow this role playing aspect must be discussed and made transparent to the girls, but those must be difficult issues to navigate.

  • Icon for: Caitlin K. Martin

    Caitlin K. Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 04:03 p.m.

    Excellent questions. As has been mentioned above, this is an exploratory project that has multiple elements of participation, and multiple modes of communication on and offline. Forgive the following long reply as I make some connections between your questions and our thinking and intentional designs/approaches:

    The program strives to serve all participants through individual connections with adult mentors, especially focusing on roles such as encouragement and prompting work and ideas to the next level. Outside of the program time, there is opportunity to make connections through the online platform. These interactions between the girls and the adult mentors they know in the f2f are happening online, and they address issues around the work, and also share ideas or interests or updates related to their lives.

    When we introduced the idea of narratives into the Divas program, part of the idea is that the story (a video or comic book) would prompt girls to begin work to help a character solve a challenge. When girls submitted their work online, we noticed that they often included a message to the character they were helping out. We saw an opportunity to create profiles online for girls to interact with, as they were part of an actual and virtual community of Digital Youth Divas.

    Responses from these profiles are pretty scripted and oriented around work as opposed to personal. At first, some girls, like you imagined, wanted to know who was responding to them, finding great pleasure in “guess the mentor.” In the most recent implementation of the program, we used a more systematic and guiding way to introduce the stories as part of an immersive experience online, being very transparent about the experience of moving through the story by accessing the media chapters as well as character profiles managed by the mentor community. In this second iteration of using the narratives, there have been none of these questions about who or why from the >75 girls in the program. Some don’t interact with these characters beyond their submissions, but some obviously delight in giving them some advice in writing about what is going on in the story. In this work, we don’t see there being a right or wrong way to participate, but want to open multiple avenues to do so both in the f2f and when they are not physically in the program space.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 05:30 p.m.

    This has been a very rich discussion—of a program that is excellent and rich in its multiple approaches. I look forward to learning more and staying “in tune” as the initiative continues. The personal mentoring aspect is a real challenge for scale up. Have you documented the specific interactions so far— so that you could capture the most frequent queries and feedback? It’s not the same as personalized feedback, but maybe there would be a way to have the participants make a query and see a range of responses that have been given to that question (or similar queries). In the spirit of disclosure, it might also be possible to also identify the characteristics of the mentor for each response. One basic question is what the program would lose if the mentoring feedback is eliminated.

  • Icon for: Caitlin K. Martin

    Caitlin K. Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 04:09 p.m.

    Yes, this is a huge scale up challenge!
    Right now, our scale is at a program level. Professional development and facilitator guides for mentors as the program gets larger is a way to document ideas and approaches for interactions with girls online, letting us move from a 2 mentor model to a 15 mentor model.
    At the same time, we are playing with how to create some scripted responses from mentors and characters by doing exactly what you mentioned, looking at the types of interactions we see. We have previously done work identifying online educator support roles played online for youth, and commenting was a huge and varied way that educators interacted with youth in very important ways, encouraging, prompting, clarifying, etc. We are interested in what we can operationalize, but also very much wonder about that personal connection. What is the trade-off?
    I love the idea of the identifying characteristics disclosure, especially as a program may scale to a degree to where the youth on the system do not have f2f experiences with the adult mentors. Thanks for your comments!

  • Icon for: Lisa Samford

    Lisa Samford

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 10:15 p.m.

    What a fantastic project. What does the future look like in the wake of well-demonstrated success? This seems ripe for development with institutional partners. What are you thinking about?

  • Icon for: Jean Ryoo

    Jean Ryoo

    Senior Researcher
    May 19, 2016 | 12:23 a.m.

    Wonderful video! I love the ways you share youth voice in this story of the project. Are there other ways that you are thinking about capturing youth stories and personal pathways throughout the project? By the way, I had the privilege of hearing Nichole Pinkard talk about this project today at the MakerEd Convening in Oakland and it was SO inspiring! Thanks for sharing the amazing work you all do!

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 11:03 a.m.

    Thank you! Glad you were able to catch her talk! We are following individual case students through each implementation cycle of the program, we are still in the data collection phase at this point, but that is definitely a big part of our research efforts. We are trying to capture their stories through a combination of one-on-one interviews, survey data, field observations, log data from the online platform, and qualitative digital ethnographic observations of the online activity. We also have a video series documenting the current implementation, you can watch the playlist here and hear from some of the girls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVfg1AzdvJU&amp...

  • Icon for: Caitlin K. Martin

    Caitlin K. Martin

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 11:15 a.m.

    Hi, Jean! Back at you about great work! As Jim noted, we are in the midst of doing some more longitudinal ethnographic work for a selection of case study girls over the 5 month program, selecting girls with a mix of higher and lower home access and experience, as well as incoming interest in STEM. The work to analyze this rich and abundant data takes time (as you know), but we are very excited about it. We also have a parent workshop component to the Divas program, and the cases are very much taking a family perspective as well.

  • Icon for: Vivian Guilfoy

    Vivian Guilfoy

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 12:11 p.m.

    Looking forward to seeing what the research yields. It certainly holds great promise for understanding the
    “transformations” in the participant attitudes, skills, and knowledge of STEM as well as their own ways of processing the experiences. Enjoyed looking at other videos in the playlist. Your work is very inspiring!

  • Icon for: Asia Roberson

    Asia Roberson

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 02:18 p.m.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading over the dialogue in this forum. I am the instructional lead and provide professional development for the mentors who service the girls in our program. There are many wonderful learning opportunities within this multi layered maker space we call DYD. Myself and the other DYD mentors would love to answer any questions around implementation, DYD classroom culture, DYD mentorship development, and training.

  • Icon for: Sophie Joerg

    Sophie Joerg

    Assistant Professor
    May 22, 2016 | 01:30 p.m.

    What a great project! I read that the program lasts 21 weeks. This is very impressive. What is your experience about participants missing sessions? Are all students working on the same project in a session or are there groups of students working on different projects? I’m looking forward to see your results when following the students through multiple years.

  • Icon for: Asia Roberson

    Asia Roberson

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 10:48 a.m.

    Hi Sophie, good question. Having a 21 week program presented some challenges with attendance. After the 4th week of programming we were still allowing new Digital Youth Divas (DYDs) to join the program. At the beginning of programming I considered DYD to be what I like to call a “self-paced maker space”. Girls in our program use a asynchronous online learning system and have 24/7 access to the curriculum. In theory, a DYD could move as quickly through each activity as her time, resources and ability allowed. I quickly learned that there are opportunities for self-generated timelines but there has to be an expectation and understanding that the completion and sometimes revision of projects had to be the responsibility of the respective group.
    We started the program with a large number of girls with big differences in ages and grade. We broke the girls into grade base groups. When a student was absent we built into the classroom culture the understanding that someone in the group was responsible for helping her fellow DYD catch up. The group dynamic helped organically create a checks and balances for keeping girls moving from activity to activity at the same pace. The older students were moving through the curriculum quicker than the younger Divas but no one group was ever more than 1 project ahead of the other.

  • Icon for: Jim Sandherr

    Jim Sandherr

    Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 10:45 a.m.

    This specific implementation of DYD lasted 21 weeks, and it was definitely a challenge in terms of retention. It’s a huge commitment for the girls and their families to attend consistently for that long of a stretch, especially when competing with other youth programs. As the program is designed to be self-paced with milestones, there are some cases of students working on different projects at different times, but they are generally working on the same projects. We observed mentors clustering students together at tables if they were at the same phase of a project, and this was done for logistical reasons (having the appropriate materials and tools at their disposal), but also so that the students could help each other troubleshoot and continue making progress.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.