Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

SUE ANN HEATHERLY

Green Bank Observatory
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 5, 2020 | 08:41 a.m.

    So, you are a high school senior at a small rural school in West Virginia. You love science, you have taken every science/math course available, including honors and AP classes. You are in the top 5% of your school, academically. You KNOW you want to do chemistry research for your career. 

    What happens to you, when you enter college as a STEM major?  You are highly likely to change your major, or leave college within your first two years.  The First2 Network aims to understand and change this reality. And the first and most important step is to listen to STEM students, and work with  them to test change ideas.

    Let's talk!

  • Icon for: Scott Balicki

    Scott Balicki

    K-12 Teacher
    May 5, 2020 | 02:48 p.m.

    Fantastic program Sue Ann, thanks for sharing!  I love the First2 Network's focus on giving the program participants agency early in the process of joining the program.  I am curious about some of what kind of ideas students have contributed to First2.  Are there any student decisions or ideas that improved the First2 network that you could share?

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 5, 2020 | 03:00 p.m.

    Hi Scott. Lots of change ideas are being implemented because of student voice. Example: STEM faculty know that students who need it often don't come to office hours.  But they didn't know why. First2 students shared their thoughts and fears with faculty at a state-wide convening and brainstormed some ideas like group office hours. Some of our faculty have tried this and polled students to see what they preferred.  Based on their responses the faculty will modify this idea and try it again!

     

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Scott Balicki

    Scott Balicki

    K-12 Teacher
    May 5, 2020 | 05:00 p.m.

    That is fantastic Sue Ann!  What a great way to empower the First2 students and set up a partnership between the students and faculty.

  • Icon for: Alison Heimowitz

    Alison Heimowitz

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 03:37 p.m.

    I absolutely love that this project gives voice to students in the co-creation of the program. The idea that students are the best ones to define and solve the problem is so important to project success. Equally important is the ability of project staff to listen, a skill that is often undervalued. Looking to the future, how have you imagined scaling this project to address the needs of other underrepresented students?  

     
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    Janelle Johnson
  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 08:01 a.m.

    Hi Alison,

    First we can share what we're learning as we learn it because the First2 Network is a Networked improvement Community, and our members conduct Plan-do-Study-Act cycles on change ideas that emerge from our interactions. Small scale changes that work are then broadcast out to be tried in other contexts. PDSA documentation is captured on an online platform that enables you to see the work as it happens.  To the extent that we can get educate others about improvement science and these practices adopted, I think we will scale good ideas that make a difference naturally.

    That said, since our focus is rural first generation students, we do have a plan to engage other EPSCoR states in years 3-5 of the project.

  • Icon for: Christine Sachs

    Christine Sachs

    K-12 Teacher
    May 6, 2020 | 06:57 a.m.

    I enjoyed learning about this wonderful project, Sue Ann. It addresses such an important goal, and offers students built-in support from each other and from the First2 staff. In their role as influencers, do First2 students have opportunities to interact with middle grade students? 

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 07:52 a.m.

    Hi Christine,

    Not middle school at this point but our project resources many of the First2 undergraduate students to be First2 Ambassadors and there are 3 "flavors". Administrative Ambassadors meet with faculty and decision makers on their campuses, Hometown Ambassadors return to their hometown high schools to talk with students, and their former teachers, and Legislative Ambassadors interact with state legislators and education policy folks.. Anecdotal evidence thus far indicates that our ambassadors are making an impact.  They have been called upon to conduct sessions at our state science and  teachers' conferences; have been consulted by WV Dept. of Education.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Christine Sachs

    Christine Sachs

    K-12 Teacher
    May 6, 2020 | 08:00 a.m.

    Thank you so much for your response. That is incredible outreach, and I love the organization into 3 sections. I am sure it is making an impact across all levels.

  • Icon for: Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores

    Researcher
    May 6, 2020 | 08:00 a.m.

    This is a great program! I’m wondering how you are studying the short and long term outcomes of the program among the students. Also, how are the students’ voices being relayed to STEM faculty? 

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 08:18 a.m.

    Hi Lisa, we have a crackerjack research team and evaluation team. For all of the institutions that participate in the programming we  have MOUs and shared IRBs to all us to survey all STEM students and compare that to the students who have been engaged in the First2 Program. Then, there are just numbers.  Our goal is to increase the number of first gen students who, having decided to major in STEM, persist to degree completion. We track them from year to year.

    Student voices are relayed to faculty very directly, by them. Our students have invited faculty to their campus club meetings, delivered sessions at First2 Convenings.  They interact with our working groups and keep the most pressing issues at the fore. They have even recorded their thoughts on Zoom. As an example, as our students returned home to complete the semester remotely, they really struggled.  They recorded their thoughts, and then spoke them in a "pandemic poem".  This poem has been shared widely including at a virtual state-wide chat.  Check it out. It's raw but it's real! https://youtu.be/GOFfj44Erag

  • May 8, 2020 | 02:48 a.m.

    Your pandemic poem is very meaningful and informative.  I see the stresses in my students here in Detroit. One had COVID-19 (never tested, however. Now recovered. "classic symptoms"); another has to do shopping for three families in which several have disabilities; another has parents who are elderly and need assistance in their business where the staff are gone due to stay-at-home orders and fear (the business provides essential public accommodation services); another has had to take on (and fortunate to have) a variety of part-time jobs that put him at risk (a co-presenter; his top focus is no longer assisting our project by entering into the on-line discussion). A friend who annually leads white water rafting in West Virginia is contemplating what this summer will bring and whether he will go back again.  Yes, this epidemic has touched us all, even those who have stayed healthy and at home.  I wish West Virginians well. 

    You can see some of my students who made a video inviting kids to make videos for our project, at https://www.biaquariumstem.org/uploads/1/0/6/4/106486701/nsfgrantvideo.mp4

  • Icon for: Judi Fusco

    Judi Fusco

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 12:50 p.m.

    Wow, what a great program, I very much enjoyed your video. Do you support students in all STEM majors? (Or if not, which ones?) Have you seen a difference in what the different majors need?  How long do they keep in touch and stay active?  

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 04:09 p.m.

    Hi Jodi. Yes, all STEM disciplines. There are different needs between students, academically, which is why the campus clubs are amazing.  There is enough diversity among the students to be able to help each other, provide "tutoring" within a warm STEM student community.  We've been at this for about a year and a half, and so far the group seems to be in touch even across campuses. Recent graduates are forming a young alum working group.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Kenne Dibner

    Kenne Dibner

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 05:16 p.m.

    Fascinating program! Thanks so much for your video. I love to see the student voice so well represented in the presentation of your work. Can you tell me a little more about the nature of the training that students go through - both as mentors and as program participants? What is the commitment on their end, and are they compensated at all? Looking forward to learning more!

  • May 8, 2020 | 02:58 a.m.

    Peer mentoring helps both the mentor and students being mentored.  The one-on-one experience (and many group experiences) of working in a lab provides a supportive environment that touches many parts of a students' life.  Helps retention enormously. Our university created many programs to do this to help solve retention and completion problems.  We have many "first in the famility" to go to university students.  There's still a lot of attrition, and the reasons why are diverse.  We ask students to step up and take responsibility for their own learning and success, but it seems challenging for many and there are many pitfalls [which don't stop even after graduation!]. And many do succeed.

     
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    Jill Rhoden
    Judi Fusco
    Janelle Johnson
  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 12, 2020 | 11:09 a.m.

    Yes, Jeffrey. Agree with all of your points,  And now, with Covid, we are very concerned about the well being of our first in family STEM majors.  This is a big blow added to so many intrinsic factors.

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 06:09 p.m.

    Hi Kenne,

    Students are compensated. If they enter the program as an summer research intern before freshman year, they get a $600 stipend for the 2-week internship program.  Then if they continue with us in a leadership capacity they are  compensated  for being a First2 Scholar, which can take the form of doing research in a lab during the school year, being an Ambassador,  and being a mentor. Time commitment varies, and is self regulated but we wanted to make opportunities available for students to work within their chosen profession, rather than adding a fast-food job or unrelated work-study on top of trying to climb the STEM ladder.

     
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    Judi Fusco
  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 6, 2020 | 06:22 p.m.

    oops I  didn't completely answer you. We deliver a 3 day mentor training program to students who mentor during the summer research internship experience. It is  a combination of active listening techniques, fun team building exercises, tips on how to handle interpersonal situations, how to be a collaborative lab mentor.  But otherwise I would say there is more coaching, and it's ongoing. Example: If a group plans to approach their dean with concerns and suggestions, the older students, along with some of the project staff may coach on the development and delivery of an effective presentation.

  • May 7, 2020 | 08:34 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing this. What a great program! 

    I'm also really interested in the training aspects for your student mentors. How did you develop the initial training program? Did you have specific outcomes for the training? Do you assess the training? Have you identified criteria that are most important for choosing student mentors? Do you have criteria for choosing faculty partners / projects?

  • Icon for: Allan Feldman

    Allan Feldman

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 08:00 p.m.

    Very interesting project. Do the students have later opportunities to engage in sustained undergraduate research opportunities?

  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 12, 2020 | 09:01 a.m.

    Yes, they do, We are creating opportunities for the students during the academic year so that they don;t have to get a "fast-food" type job that takes them away from their STEM community.  Also through already existing programs that we are working to expand to other institutions. There is the Research Rookies program at West Virginia State University, and the Research Apprenticeship Program at WVU.  In the latter, students are paid through workstudy funds if they qualify.

    We also workshop the process of applying for REU type programs from the freshman year, to get students connected with paid internships in summer time.

  • Icon for: Janelle Johnson

    Janelle Johnson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 10, 2020 | 11:52 a.m.

    The near peer mentoring experience is wonderful--it's capacity building on both sides. This looks like a great program!

     
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    Jill Rhoden
  • Icon for: Jill Rhoden

    Jill Rhoden

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2020 | 07:26 p.m.

    Great project!  We have found that our peer mentors are an important piece to our program!  Thank you for sharing a similar finding!

     
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    Sue Ann Heatherly
  • Icon for: Sue Ann Heatherly

    Sue Ann Heatherly

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Education Officer
    May 12, 2020 | 08:56 a.m.

    Jill, Yes, I think the students are the most important piece to sticking with STEM at the post secondary level.  That and time and space to support each other We need to resource mentoring, so that our peer mentors don't have to find another job to support their education. Would love to see academic clubs dedicated to persistence funded like workstudy!

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