In 2013 an Iowa research consortium landed a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study the state's unfolding statewide STEM initiative in order to derive lessons for other states and regions. Best practice in evaluating systemic STEM was the over-arching goal of this first-of-its-kind award from the NSF. The "Iowa STEM Education Evaluation (I-SEE) project had several key components: 1) A process evaluation that examined what we do, how and by whom; 2) A web-based data portal for collecting artifacts and evidence; 3) A survey of adult Iowans regarding what's perceived to be important; 4) Asset identification, or a STEM inventory; and 5) A meta-evaluation, or a study of the study itself, for logic and validity.
The history and progress of Iowa STEM was systematically dissected. Documents, records and protocols were exhaustively scrutinized. Stakeholders were widely and meticulously interviewed. Resources were painstakingly catalogued. And now, so many findings, observations and results make up a major report of lessons learned in Iowa. Not only has Iowa's progress been dramatically enhanced as a result of on-going feedback from the research team, but many beyond the state stand to benefit from the work as well.
Iowans owe a debt of gratitude, indeed STEM leaders across the U.S. owe thanks, to the researchers who undertook this study: Dr. Erin Heiden, project manager at the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR), Mari Kemis, director of Iowa State University's Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), and Dr. Don Yarbrough, former director and founder of the University of Iowa's Center for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA). The team's complete findings will be integrated into the STEM Council's annual evaluation report to be presented at the Governor's weekly press conference on October 2, 2017, on the morning of the next meeting of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. For more information about the I-SEE project or the upcoming presentation e-mail Info@IowaSTEM.gov.
I-SEE was funded by the National Science Foundation Mathematics and Science Partnership grant program, number DRL-1238211.