Transdisciplinary Collaboration for STEM-C Education and Environmental Restoration – The Curriculum + Community Enterprise for Restoration Science (Molina, Watson-Currie, & Birney, 2016)

Community Engagement Model: Diverse Teams Collaborate to Develop a New STEM-C Curriculum in Restoration Science (Watson-Currie, Molina, & Birney, 2016)
March 23, 2016
Paper was accepted to be presented at the Urban Communication Foundation & Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea). (Watson-Currie, Molina, Groome, & Birney).
March 23, 2016
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Transdisciplinary Collaboration for STEM-C Education and Environmental Restoration – The Curriculum + Community Enterprise for Restoration Science (Molina, Watson-Currie, & Birney, 2016)

Michelle Molina will be presenting a poster at the 2016 Science of Team Science (SciTS) conference in Phoenix, AZ.

The Curriculum + Community Enterprise for Restoration Science (CCERS) is new partnership model aiming to tie restoration science to core Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science (STEM-C) concepts through engaging discussions and activities in urban middle schools. This paper will (1) describe the CCERS Model, (2) discuss how partners from nine separate universities, foundations, K-12 institutions, community organizations, and cultural institutions are collaborating towards one shared vision, and (3) discuss potential mechanisms for sustainability and replication from project leaders’ perspectives. The aim of the authors is to answer the following research questions:

  1. What comprises the “curriculum plus community enterprise” local model?
  2. Do the five programmatic pillars function independently and/or collectively as a system of interrelated STEM-C content delivery vehicles that are effective in changing educator and student disposition toward STEM-C content and environmental restoration and stewardship?
  3. What are mechanisms for creating sustainability and scalability of the model locally during and beyond its three-year implementation?
  4. What core aspects of the model are replicable?

To address these questions researchers employed Longitudinal Qualitative Interviews (LQI) to explore how partners and organizations on the project “experience, interpret, and respond to change” by examining themes across time (Hermanozicz, 2013, p. 189). Twenty-four project leaders from the nine partnering organizations also completed a Collaboration Survey assessing their current and optimal levels of integration with partner organizations based on Gajda’s (2004) Strategic Alliance Formative Assessment Rubric.

Findings from the first two rounds of interviews show that partners collaborate through five pragmatic pillars (Figure 2), which can be thought of as work groups where organizations share responsibility for specific outcomes (Sundstorm, De Meuse, & Futrell, 1990). Furthermore, project leaders shared insights into effective transdisciplinary collaborations: (1) clearly defined goals and (2) a streamlined decision making processes. Researchers are currently analyzing the third set of interviews and survey responses. These will further clarify how partners are collaborating, as well as explore mechanisms for sustainability, scalability, and replicability, as well as provide further suggestions from partners on how to develop and strengthen effective partnerships.