A STEM Education Approach based on cross-disciplinary collaboration between high school students and undergraduate mentors.
Project Description: TASTA (TAlk Science Through Arts) is an exploratory study to develop the innovative STEM educational program based on transdisciplinary collaboration and mentoring. Studies in cognitive science and science of learning suggested that our brains have a two different ways of thinking that synergize and optimize the thinking process and outcome: one is fast, intuitive and implicit thinking and the other is slow, reasonable and explicit thinking. Even though these two different thinking systems contradict each other sometimes, such as the time that our intuition and reasoning reach to the different decisions, these two thinking systems ultimately support each other to produce better outcomes in learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.Traditionally, however, disciplinary teaching tended to encourage one way of thinking over the other. For example, teaching science mainly focus on slow, reason-based, and explicit thinking, while teaching art usually encourage fast, intuitive, and implicit thinking. This traditional teaching might not be the way that optimizes how our brains work. Art-based teaching of science or science-based teaching of art can encourage both thinking systems; fast and slow, intuition and reasoning, and implicit and explicit. The TASTA program is based on such a transdisciplinary approach and is expected to bring fruitful learning outcomes because it helps the way that our brains work. The TASTA program consists of the mentor-training programs offered to undergraduate students, graduate students and teachers in the spring semester, and the summer workshops for young students (grade 6-10). Participants in the mentor-training can volunteer to be a mentor at the summer student workshop. The summer workshops will have hands-on activity oriented workshops for younger students and research experience focused workshops for older students. This study has three phases: development of workshops, implementation of workshops, and evaluation. In the development phase, the mentor-training programs and student workshops will be designed and developed. In the implementation phase, the mentor-training programs will be offered in the spring, mentors will be recruited, and the student workshops will be implemented. In the evaluation phase, the data collected through the implementation phase will be analyzed and used to revise the mentor-trainings and the student workshops. These three phases can be repeated for the next and the following years. There are three research questions which the
TASTA project aims to answer:
1) In what extent, do transdisciplinary practices help students understand cross-cutting concepts and connect disciplinary core ideas?
2) What changes occur in motivation, self-efficacy, and meta cognition about learning for mentors and mentees?
3) How can transdisciplinary activities make learning meaningful and enjoyable for students?