The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance was selected as one of the National Afterschool Association’s (NAA) “Most Influential in Research and Evaluation” honorees. This distinction recognizes individuals and organizations who have been strong contributors of research and evaluation related to afterschool programming.
MMSA’s research team received this recognition, in part, due to ongoing work and collaboration with NAA to develop a STEM credentialing program for afterschool educators. MMSA has assisted with the development of quick, inexpensive assessments of afterschool providers’ skills as they facilitate STEM learning experiences with youth. The assessments will be used to award educators a “micro-credential” in a particular STEM skill, such as “Establishing Relevance in STEM.”
One of the newest evaluation instruments that we have been working with NAA to develop is a “Script Improvement” assessment. This assessment tool is a bit unusual and creative in that it asks afterschool providers to imagine themselves in a dialog with youth. They then are asked to think about the specific choices they would make about what to say next, in order to support learning through the use of a particular STEM facilitation skill.
This evaluation work is part of a larger ongoing project called ACRES (Afterschool Coaching for Reflective Educators in STEM) where we offer workshops and coaching in several STEM facilitation skills to groups of educators. Skills include Asking Purposeful Questions, Youth Voice and Choice, and Modeling Science Processes. We hope that our new assessments will also allow us to document afterschool providers’ professional growth as they participate in ACRES PD opportunities and will serve as a model for others for how to implement simple yet effective evaluation tools.