1. Accomplishments

Executive Summary: The GRACE project successfully addressed its project goals in its fourth and final year. The major accomplishments include: 1) Recruitment of 60 new teachers (bringing the recruitment total to 323 teachers, including a total of 169 trained teachers, exceeding our original targeted number of 120 trained teachers; 2) Development of two online professional development five-unit courses which provided 90 hours of professional development; 3) Development by GRACE teachers of course descriptions, schedules, course content objectives, and activity logs of outcomes using the ESRI five-level model for lesson and project implementation; 4) Participation (in all project years) of over 14,000 students at the Explorer level and nearly 13000 students at the Investigator level, bringing the four-year project total to over 27,000 GIS-trained/informed students, far exceeding our original targeted number of 7500; 5) Facilitation of 116 new paid GIS internships, bringing the four-year project total to 272 paid GIS internships and 49 paid non-GIS internships, reaching a total of 311 paid internships, exceeding our original target of 300 paid internships; 6) Continued support of an extensive and active online social networking site; 7) Dissemination through publications, websites, and media reports; and 8) Partnership building through presentations at scholarly and professional meetings. 

 

Goals:

 

Overall, the four-year goals of the GRACE project were to: 1) Establish a three-stage process (Explorers, Investigators, Interns) that encourages a large number of middle and high school students and teachers to engage in learning through GIS/T experiences across the State of Michigan; and 2) Provide workplace and college experiences to students from underrepresented and rural communities.

 

Major Activities:

 

Our major activities for the fourth year fall into six areas: lesson development, teacher professional development, student engagement and training, internships, dissemination, and social networking.

 

Specific Objectives:

 

For the fourth year, we had specific shorter term objectives related to both goals. 

 

A) For the three stage process, our fourth year objectives can be categorized into four of the five areas listed above:

 

1) Lesson development: We were planning to modify existing Explorer and Investigator lessons.

 

2) Teacher professional development: We had not planned to train any additional teachers in the fourth year according to the proposal.  However, due to enthusiastic requests from a large number of teachers, we went “above and beyond” expectations to deliver cohorts 7, 8, and 9 without paid stipend from the GRACE grant and continued the existing training to the Investigator level for 10 teachers, bringing the four year total to 120 teachers trained at the Investigator level.  

 

3) Social networking: We were planning to continue utilizing a social networking site for teachers and encouraged active participation throughout the lesson development and implementation process.

 

B) For the workplace and college experiences, our fourth year goals fell into two specific objectives:

 

1) Building partnerships for internships: We were planning to continue to establish partnerships and identify sites for internship activities.

 

2) Student engagement and training: We were planning to train 150 interns with 100 completing workplace internships or hands-on problem solving internships, bringing the four-year total to 500 trained interns, and 300 successfully completed internships. 

 

3) Host a final set of college campus visits.

 

Significant results:

 

For the fourth year (as with the first, second, and third years), we were successful in addressing our objectives.

 

A) For the three stage process, here are our results for each of objectives listed above:

 

(i) Lesson development:  (MVU report)

 

(ii) Teacher professional development: (MVU report)

 

(iii) Student engagement and training: (MVU report)

 

(iv) Social networking: We continued to support our social networking site for teachers within The ESRI “Geonet” portal at https://geonet.esri.com/groups/grace . We were able to engage all active teachers in this social networking site throughout the lesson development and implementation process. These teachers networked not only among themselves, but also with program coordinators, and with other members of the GIS community.

 

B) For the workplace and college experiences, our fourth year goals fell into three areas:

 

(i) Building partnerships for internships: The internship program is an important and unique component of the GRACE project. As a technology based STEM program aiming to encourage and stimulate students into thinking about continued study in the sciences and technology, the internship experience is designed to provide the critical link from learning and knowledge gain to application and practice.

 

From its inception, we have rigorously promoted student internship training and building a statewide consortium that collectively seeks financial resources to pay the GRACE students to work on real world GIS projects at worksites as the summer interns. We have worked out two support structures for placing the GRACE interns. In the City of Detroit, the GRACE project has collaborated with the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (DYVPI), City of Detroit Grow Detroit Young Talent Program (GDYT), and Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) to implement the paid internship. Eastern Michigan University (the GRACE project), City of Detroit (through DYVPI) and DPSCD have entered a multi-agency agreement to formalize this collaboration (Appendix 1: Execution Copy EMU GRACE PROJECT MOU 10.17.2017 with DYVPI and DPSCD).  GDYT provides the funds through its summer employment program for the GRACE interns. DYVPI and DPSCD facilitate the intern placement and provide facilities and computer labs for the interns to do the GIS projects. GRACE provides GIS training and technical support.

 

GIS/Technology (GIS/T), as a unique sector of information technology, continuously expands its scope of applications in almost every aspect of our society and increases its power of problem-solving along with the rapid advancement of information technology. The use of GIS/T as the demonstrations to the urban youth in the underserved community, City of Detroit, is particularly mindful.  ‘Learning with earning’ (the paid internship) is purposefully motivating students to attend GIS/T training. Income potential is directly correlated to recruiting and sustaining students in STEM programs in urban areas, where income amongst households is relatively low. Moreover, the cultural dimension of GIS/T integration in education and society is worth special attention. GIS/T is about people sharing information and innovative ideas that eliminate global barriers and help increase information access to everyone.

 

Moreover, low graduation rates, high dropout rates and high vulnerability to violence, crime, and substance abuse among the students in Detroit clearly demonstrate that simply assisting the students in classrooms and schools is not sufficient to overcome these challenges. Broader community engagement is critical to form a support structure for mentoring the participants and for bringing needed resources to provide opportunities to them. As a result, the paid internship is particularly welcomed by the students, young adults, schools and communities. The GRACE project through the collaboration with DYVPI and GDYT went beyond formal education to create an informal STEM learning environment for school dropouts and on-street young adults in Detroit. As a result, the GRACE project recruited 30 DYVPI young adults in 2016 and placed them as paid GRACE summer interns in the Youthville Community Center; 23 DYVPI adults in 2017 and another 24 in 2018 respectively were placed as paid summer interns in Douglass Academy.

 

Beyond the City of Detroit, GRACE has initiated dialogues with Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP) and Michigan State Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) to reach a Tri-Agency Agreement (DTMB, MiCAMP and EMU) to create shared resources to implement the GRACE internship program. In principle, this Tri-Agency agreement intends to foster collaboration between these three organizations, to share responsibilities, and to create an environment, in which a student intern can be placed in a place where there are needs for GIS projects, available funds to pay intern’s stipend and the strong administrative support to enable the intern placement to be smooth. For instance, the board of directors of MiCAMP decided to convert MiCAMP’s budget allocations to the student internship stipend. This conversion greatly helped the placement of internships in the remote regions and in small community organizations. In addition, MiCAMP and DTMB successfully helped recruit professional geomentors for the project.

 

(ii) Student recruitment, engagement and training: The GRACE project continued to recruit student internship candidates for intensive GIS training so that these candidates would be prepared for internship assignments in Summer 2018. We utilized our Website for the GRACE Internship Program (www.nsfgrace.net), on which we published all related information about the intensive GIS training, the software license request, the online support, and the learning progress report (see the screen shot below). We continued to use the GIS training contents according to the current industrial standards, ArcGIS Desktop Entry Level Certification (www.nsfgrace.net/helpdesk/index.php).

 

 

 

During the final year, to help support scaling up to statewide participation, the GRACE project made significant improvements to the GIS training content and to the internship options:

 

  1. We dramatically reduced the training intensity by replacing a 24-hour ArcGIS Desktop course with a 3-hour course on using ArcMap in ArcGIS Desktop 10 course.

 

  1. We changed the primary GIS software from ArcGIS Desktop to ArcGIS Pro. The training courses based on ArcGIS Pro are modularized, short courses ranging from 1.0 hour to 4 hours each. ArcGIS Pro is a ribbon-style software package that is much easier to learn with shorter training modules that increases completion rates.

 

  1. We provided three Internship options to encourage a broad student population to participate as GRACE interns:

 

1)   Professional Interns (for High School Students)

·           Complete Professional GIS Career Pathway Internship Training  before the start of the internship,  during the internship period using student’s personal time, or before the end of the summer month of August;

·           Placement at a community work-site;

·           Receive $1,200 stipend upon:

o   Completion of the required training,

o   Submission  of the training certificates to nsfgrace.net,

o   Successful completion of all the internship assignments, and

o   Creation of a story map for the internship experience.

 

2)   Hybrid Learning-Professional Interns (for High School Students)

·           Complete Professional GIS Career Pathway Internship Training or STEM College Pathway GIS Internship Training either before the start of the internship, during the internship period using student’s personal time, or before the end of the summer month of August;

·           Work in school computer labs on meaningful hands-on GIS projects supported by Teacher Champions, GIS professionals, community agencies, or industries;

·           Receive $1,200 stipend upon:

o   Completion of the required training,

o   Submission  of the training certificates to nsfgrace.net,

o   Successful completion of all the internship assignments, and

o   Creation of a story map for the internship experience.

 

3)   STEM Practice Interns

·           Work in school computer labs or community organizations/agencies on GIS inquiry projects designed jointly by internship Teacher Champions and community partners;

·           Receive $1,200 stipends (for High School Students) upon

o   Completion of Option #I Training (either Professional Pathway or STEM College Pathway),

o   Submission of the training certificates to nsfgrace.ent,

o   Successful completion of all the internship assignments, and

o   Creation of a story map for the internship experience.

·           Receive $320 stipends (for both High School and Middle School Students) upon

o   Completion of the required training (either ArcGIS Online fundamentals (18 hours), or ArcGIS Pro Basics (16 hours),

o   Submission of the training certificates to nsfgrace.net,  

o   Successful completion of all the internship assignments, and

o   Creation of a story map for the internship experience.

 

We did an excellent job of recruiting the interns in Summer 2018. There were 116 students who completed the internship assignments:

 

·      Detroit Public School Community District / Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Program (the City of Detroit Police Department) / the City of Detroit Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) – 45 interns;

 

·      Grand Traverse School District / Inland Seas Education Association / 9 business and community organizations – 17 interns;

 

·      The Calumet High School, Houghton High School and Michigan Technology University – 13 interns

 

·       Henry Ford Academy / Henry Ford Health System – 12 interns

 

·       Ludington School District / Western Land Services – 9 interns

 

·       Lake Shore School District – Macomb County – 10 interns

 

·       Monroe High School / Monroe County Planning Department – 3 interns

 

·      Canton School District / Carton Township Government – 2 interns

 

·      Five schools support 1 intern, respectively (5 individual interns)

 

 

(iii) College Campus visits

 

The GRACE project sponsored two campus visits to University of Michigan Dearborn. 30 students from Lake Shore High School in Macomb County and 20 students from Mumford High School in City of Detroit visited University of Michigan Dearborn campus on 2017 GIS Day, which was the largest annual GIS celebration event in Michigan. These high school students who were also the GRACE project participants attended more than a dozen professional GIS presentations and demonstrations.  The students were very excited to have the opportunity to listen to the GIS professionals and to communicate with them.  On the other hand, the GIS professionals and the university faculty and college students were very enthusiastic welcoming the high school students and felt that it was very important to have the young students appreciate the rapidly growing scope of GIS technologies and applications.

 

 

Key outcomes or other achievements:

Highlights include:

(i) A larger geographic diversity of teacher participants in the professional development and lesson implementation activities of the project.

(ii) More efficient and effective use of staff time in conducting professional development activities and supporting teacher participants.

(iii) Use of trained GRACE Teachers as resources in the integration of GIS/T in various curriculum fields.

(iv) School-based support as new cohort participants are from schools of already trained GRACE Teachers.

(v) GRACE Place continues to be one of the largest GIS groups on GeoNet

 

(vi) Significant number of GRACE teachers using ESRI Virtual Campus

 

(vii) Major advances in the use of LearnArcGIS site for instructional use

 

(viii) Increasing collaboration between GRACE Instructors across the state.

 

Dissemination:

 

In its fourth year, the GRACE project has continued to actively promote its strategies, materials, and findings:

 

A) Media dissemination:

 

(i) Video on GRACE Internship Program in Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan: https://tinyurl.com/NSFGRACE

 

(ii) Radio Show about GRACE:  http://www.keweenawreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GRACE-Project.mp3

(iii)  County Midland Newsletter Article, IT/GIS Director Presents” Midland Model” at Summit in San Diego, August 2018, County of Midland, Michigan:https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MgslP81MmOvEVSYCr0hxz6OytM2_5O0A/view?usp=sharing

 

(iv)  Jason Keeler, one of the GRACE Teachers won Esri 2018 January monthly video competition, the website with Jason's video (scroll all the way down the web page), https://community.esri.com/groups/k12-instruction/projects/videochallenge

 

B) Scholarly Presentations:

(i)         Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP) GIS Conference, September 7-9, 2017.  There was a panel of six GRACE high school students who presented their internship GIS projects. The attendees included the GRACE project staff, Dr. Yichun Xie, Dr. Xining Yang, Allison Hoff, and three GRACE teacher participants. This is an educational and networking opportunity for GIS professionals, elected officials, students, vendors, and everyone in-between.

 

(ii)        The American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2018 Education Panel: Geo-mentors: A Showcase of Volunteer Efforts in K-12 Geography Outreach. Panelist Dr. Yichun Xie, April 10-14, 2018.

 

(iii)       The ESRI Education Users Summit in San Diego, July 14, 2018, Dr. Albert Lewandowski, Chris Cantrell, Presentation: “The Midland Model” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FCRfyfeI0tOhMzzuwwXHHqx6pviqqR5M/view?usp=sharing

 

 

(iv)      The ESRI Education Users Summit in San Diego, July 14, 2018, Dr. Don Lafreniere (Michigan Tech U) and Mike Rolland (Teacher from Calumet High School), Presentation: EDUC891 - Youth-Led Spatial Analysis of Environmental Impacts on Health and Well-being

 

(v)        The ESRI Education Users Summit in San Diego, July 14, 2018, Allison Hoff (Eastern Michigan University), Presentation: EDUC915 Expected Likelihood of Pre-Service Teachers to use GIS in the Classroom

 

(vi)       National Council of Geography Educators conference in Quebec City, August 6 – 11, GRACE Professional Development Program. Dr. Albert Lewandowski and Dr. Richard Sambrook (Eastern Michigan University).

 

(vii)     The Calumet and Houghton intern students spent the summer surveying the community to create a comprehensive WebMap for village planning, economic development, heritage management, and tourism. An open public session was held at CLK Commons on August 16th for the launch of the Calumet-Laurium WebMap. The WebMap is a GIS resource that has been constructed this year by the intern students under the guidance of MTU Social Science students, staff, and faculty.

 

(viii)    Student interns from the Grand Traverse Region were asked to present their summer internship projects at Dennos Museum on September 16, 2018. From water sampling to Kirtland Warbler habitat, they covered a lot of mapping ground with seven different organizations, learning much about the inner workings of ArcGIS map building and presenting geographic information using Story Maps (http://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/).

 

 

(ix)       Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP) GIS Conference, September 21, 2018, Dr. Xining Yang  and Dr. Richard Sambrook served as panel discussants on the high school education roundtable.

 

(x)         The two PD courses “Educators Exploring Geographic Information Systems (GIS)” and “Educators Investigating Geographic Information Systems (GIS)” are now available through the Michigan Virtual Learning Portal for the public to access.

 

(xi)       The GRACE Project resources, a collection of instructional resources including lessons organized by subject area, Geoinquiries, and ArcGIS projects have been moved from the Michigan Virtual Learning Object Repository (http://lor.mivu.org/search/node/GIS) to the statewide Michigan GoOpen site (https://goopenmichigan.org/) that includes Open Educational Resources (OER) on teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others.

 

 

C) Publications/Reports:

                

(i)         Scarlett, S., Lafreniere, D., Trepal, D., Arnold, J., & Xie, Y. (in-press). Out of the Classroom and Into History: Mobile Historical GIS and Community-Engaged Teaching. The History Teacher.

 

Products:

 

Executive Summary: The GRACE project is active in creating appropriate products to recruit teachers, disseminate project activities, and identify new partnership opportunities. This includes 6 websites and social media sites, and a recruitment/informational video. The project has also developed new pedagogical techniques utilizing online GIS technology.

 

Websites: We have continued to support the following websites and social media sites:

           

Official website: http://nsfgrace.net

Companion website: http://igre.emich.edu/igre/gisresearch/natinal/GRACE

Geonet: https://geonet.esri.com/groups/grace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GRACEProgram/

Instagram: @GRACEProgram

Twitter: https://twitter.com/graceprogram

 

Technology and Techniques:

 

The GRACE lesson modules are products that reflect cutting-edge instructional techniques: They address a scaffolded approach to pedagogy across 3 role levels (Explorer, Investigator, Intern), as well as across all five instructional levels as defined by ESRI (Presentation/demonstration, scripted activity, expanded scripted activity, directed inquiry, and open inquiry with fluid exploration). 

 

The project continues exploring and improving the project’s social network infrastructure by introducing new and cutting-edge tools, such as GeoNet and ArcGIS Online Organizations (AGOO).

 

3. Participants

 

Executive Summary: The GRACE project is building a strong and diverse partnership to support SPrEaD activities and enhance systemic and sustainable change. The collaboration includes seven well established and highly effective organizations in the area of STEM education and GIS technology.

 

Partners:

Eastern Michigan University

Michigan Virtual University

Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network

 

Other Collaborators:

Michigan Communities Association of Mapping Professionals (MiCAMP)

Michigan State Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB)

The Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (DYVPI)

City of Detroit Department of Innovation and Technology

City of Detroit Grow Detroit Young Talent Program (GDYT)

Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD)

Michigan Technological University

Western UP Planning and Development Region

Environmental Systems Research Institute

Education Design, INC

 

4. Impact

 

Executive Summary: The GRACE project is completing its fourth year, we are in the process of documenting its impact through a final analysis of survey results, observation, and interview analyses. We have developed three new assessment instruments and our research/evaluation results are leading to new scholarly dialogues in the field.

 

Impact on the base of knowledge, theory, and research and/or pedagogical methods in the principal disciplinary field(s) of the project:

 

Building on the previous years, the ongoing research and evaluation activities have contributed to the knowledge base, by collecting additional data on teachers, student interns, investigators, and explorers, with particular emphasis on in-depth analysis of the internships, as the culminating stage of the entire GRACE project. This analysis has reinforced the findings from the previous year (summarized below). Additional and newly emergent findings, conclusions, and implications (for practice, theory, and future research) will be shared in the final report.

 

In order to measure the impact program activities, the GRACE project has developed a research framework addressing four interrelated strands: a) Students; b) Teachers; c) School to Work pathways (Internships); and c) Scale-up strategies.

 

a) Students: The research on students is based on Astin’s Input-Environment-Outcome (I-E-O) framework. At the input level, we are collecting contextual data, including community type, school type, grade level, discipline area, technology level, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic level. At the environment level, we are collecting classroom level data, including number of modules completed, sequence of modules, and time on task estimates. At the outcome level (over both explorer and investigator levels), we are collecting pre/post attitudinal data (using our new attitudinal assessment), pre/post standardized tests (including a spatial reasoning assessment), and NGSS-aligned performance-based assessments. Our analysis will consist of multiple regression analysis, and where appropriate, structural equation modeling (SEM).

 

Specifically, we have gathered additional data using an attitudinal survey instrument that addresses appropriate quality criteria: validity, reliability, cultural responsiveness, brevity, comprehensiveness, and ease of online delivery to multiple platforms including mobile devices. The instrument constructs are grounded in the scholarly literature as being the most prominent in the field, including interest, confidence, commitment, career motivation, personal relevance, perceived value, perceived ability, self-efficacy, self-determination, and intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and is aligned with NGSS standards. These additional data continue to show gains in student attitudes (see Appendix 2 – GRACE-Student-Survey for survey description, reliability coefficients, and attitude gains).

 

b) Teachers: The research on teachers focuses on the impact of professional development through the 150 hours of either hands-on or online workshop experiences. Surveys of teachers, interviews, and classroom observations were used to collect data. This data was analyzed using emergent methods aligned to implementation design. The results address teacher motivation, technology skills, and GIS/spatial relationship content.

 

c) School-to-Work Pathways: The school-to-work research is based upon Activity Theory as applied to e-learning (Robertson, 2008), which examines the dynamic interaction among students, community, and learning objectives through learning tools, social rules/norms, and division of labor.  This research draws from an expanded instrument which combines the attitudinal survey (described above), along with items addressing spatial reasoning skills, and specific internship experiences (see Appendix 3 – GRACE-Intern-Survey). This is combined with a survey of the geomentors addressing their work experiences with the interns (see Appendix 4 – GRACE-Mentor-Survey).

 

To address the key elements of Activity Theory, we have also completed qualitative interviews with interns, mentors, and community-based professionals. Based on a thematic analysis of these interview transcripts, we have identified the following:

 

1) internships should be organized around clear inquiry-driven community-based problems of practice, established well in advance of the beginning of the internship;

 

2) internships are most effective with groups of interns, where a dynamic synergy allows cooperative learning;

 

3) internships are most effective when there is clear and continuous communication among geomentors, office professionals, and student interns, including establishing clear expectations and deadlines for final projects and monitoring student progress;

 

4) internships require that basic online training be completed before the beginning of the projects, but additional GIS training should be flexible enough to allow “just-in-time” learning;

 

5) explorer/Investigator training was not necessary for successful internships, but virtual campus training is important and was seen as immediately relevant and valuable to interns (although some interns found it difficult to complete the virtual campus courses, without significant support from mentors);

 

6) internships are most effective when students are placed within their own communities and address current community-based issues;

 

7) internships are most effective when students work within the office environment, outside of the school environment;

 

8) internships motivate students to remain in school and in some cases raised motivation for STEM careers;

 

9)  internships encourage students to focus on career skills beyond GIS skills, including communication skills, critical thinking skills, and inquiry-based problem solving skills – in fact, student development was most pronounced around “professional behaviors” within the workplace, more so than GIS/STEM skills. 

 

10) internships lead to transformative experiences for mentors and community officials, as well as students, including overcoming career “burn-out” – in fact, there was evidence of mentor development through “pedagogical” stages;

 

11) internships can lead to broader community involvement, which, in turn drives broader school participation.

 

12) it is clear that very different models are necessary for larger urban areas, where teacher involvement remains limited, given the work demands in those areas.

 

d) Scale-Up: The research on scale-up is framed by the five dimensions of the Dede matrix: depth, sustainability, spread, shift, and evolution. Our findings are now drawing from business models as well as academic ones, including branding, “light versions”, bounded process, cost efficiency, local adaptation and applicability, as well as community-based partnerships. Overall, we are finding that sustainability and spread require community “learning clusters” that are project-driven. These community partnerships will drive school involvement. Projects that begin with curriculum changes are less successful. Also, we are discovering that developing these community-based learning clusters require different models for rural, urban, and suburban contexts. Changes seem to be built around leverage/tipping/pressure points driven by early adopters and clear inquiry-based community needs which lead to positive feedback loops within the community partnerships.

 

At this point in time, we have identified the following:

 

The Strategies of Spreading GRACE Internship Program Across Michigan

 

  1. Current Internship Implementation Models

 

1)     Completing the 8 required ESRI courses before starting the internship (the students in Monroe, Detroit, and several other locations)

2)     Completing the 8 required courses at the first week of internship (the students in UP)

3)     Completing the 8 required courses during the weeks of summer internship (a group of students in Detroit Public Schools Community District)

4)     Completing part of the 8 required courses during the weeks of summer internship (a group of students in Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Program; a group of students in Detroit Public Schools Community District)

5)     Interns working at the work sites

6)     Interns working at the university computer labs

7)     Interns working at the high school computer labs

 

  1. Lessons Learned from Current Models

 

1)     Though demanding, the students met the requirements and felt the internships to be very rewarding;

2)     Too boring and stressful to complete the 8 required ESRI courses before starting the internship;

3)     Many students dropped out the training program because of the heavier training request;

4)     Many teachers were not willing to recruit students because of the heavier training request.

 

  1. Different Views of Student Internship Assignments

 

1)     Professional View (producing useful GIS projects and products through the internship program)

2)     School Administrative View (it is satisfactory to the school or district if the students can learn GIS skills and knowledge and can do some meaningful hands-on GIS projects through the internship program)

3)     Extra Curriculum View (it is helpful if the students can use some GIS knowledge and skill to engage some STEM inquiries in the context of their communities)

 

  1. Internship Models of Spreading GRACE Internship Program

 

The percentage of the past GRACE interns and the current GRACE intern trainees who completed or will complete all 8 required courses before internship assignment and who worked or will work in a work-site setting is about 25 – 35 percent.  One experiment we tried in this final internship year was to reduce the before-internship training requirement from 46 hours to 15-19 hours.  The purpose of reducing the initial required training hours was to encourage more students to complete the required training and to have more teachers to be interested in serving as internship champions, who will recruit and help the internship registrants to complete the required training.

 

For the purpose of spreading the internship across the State, we considered supporting three types of interns:

 

1)     Professional Interns (producing useful GIS projects and products through the internship program)

       Work at a work-site;

       Complete the remaining required technical training either at the first week of the internship, or during the internship weeks, or using any time before the end of the internship;

       Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules.

 

2)    Hybrid Learning-Professional Interns

       Work in school computer labs;

       Work on meaningful hands-on GIS projects that are asked or supported by GIS professionals or by community agencies or industries;

       Complete the required technical training either at the first week of the internship, or during the internship weeks, or using any time before the end of the internship;

       Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules.

 

3)    STEM Practice Interns

       Work in school computer labs or community organizations/agencies on GIS inquiry projects designed jointly by internship teacher champions and community partners;

       Receive $1,200 stipends when completing the internship assignments and, also, as well as submitting the certificates of all training modules; or

       Receive $320 stipends when completing the internship assignments, including creating story maps of the projects, but not going to complete all required professional GIS internship training modules.

 

5.      Strategies of Spreading GRACE Internship Program

 

1)     Jobs (Employment) Centered STEM Learning Strategy: Low graduation rates and high vulnerability to violence, crime, and substance abuse among the students in Detroit, impoverished rural communities, and indigenous communities warrant a concrete jobs-centered approach to promote STEM learning among young adults so that they can envision their participation in STEM learning as a possible and meaningful career investment.

 

2)     Paid Internship at Work Site Strategy: Concrete evidence for a brighter future and paid internships motivates students and young adults to acquire STEM skills. GIS-based hands-on experiences at worksites inspired a sense of excitement, adventure, and emotional engagement for learning, confirming that out-of-school learning is the core strategy for improving STEM education for these young adults who have few options for traditional support. Improved income potential has been found to be directly correlated to the recruitment and retention of students in both rural and urban underserved communities, where income amongst households is relatively low.

 

3)     Broader Community Engagement Strategy: Broader community engagement has been critical to form a support structure for mentoring the participants and for bringing needed resources to provide paid internships. Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, Detroit Grow Young Talent Program, Western UP Planning and Development Region, and the Michigan County Association of Mapping Professionals financially sponsored 235 interns. Further local policy makers and environmental groups in The Upper Peninsula provided community-based projects for the GRACE interns.  Year-over-year retention and STEM learning growth by GRACE interns was made possible by engaging students in meaningful partnerships with local organizations to use their GIS skills to solve real community issues such as creating safer routes to school and improving recreational opportunities for youth and elderly.

 

Our future research must be based on models that characterize these community clusters as complex systems, with multiple overlapping “environments”, multiple causal strands, divergent outcomes, recursive/nonlinear causal relationships, and emergent processes.

 

Impact on other disciplines:

 

The GIS/T tools and datasets were taught and applied beyond the disciplines of geography and earth science, where GIS programs have been traditionally housed.  Through the GRACE project, GIS/T datasets and analyses have been applied in all school disciplines, including, biosciences, geosciences, mathematics, physical sciences and social sciences. More than 70% teacher participants came from various science disciplines.

 

Impact on human resource development in science, engineering, and technology.  

 

116 high school students participated in the Summer Internship Program 2018, bringing the total to 272 paid GIS internships and 49 paid non-GIS internships. They applied their GIST skills in the GIS projects in the afore-mentioned departments and agencies.

 

Many of these GIS projects contributed to connect science with schools and enhanced the participants’ hands-on skills as well as knowledge in science, engineering, and technology.

 

Impact on physical resources that form infrastructure, including physical resources such as facilities, laboratories, or instruments:

 

N/A

 

Impact on institutional resources that form infrastructure:

 

N/A

 

Impact on information resources that form infrastructure:

 

N/A

 

Impact (or is likely to make an impact) on commercial technology or public use:

 

The products from the GIS projects had direct contributions to the sponsoring city departments and agencies. These products were in great demand but these departments didn’t have sufficient human resources to distribute them as widely as desired.

 

Impact on society beyond science, engineering, and academic world:

 

The interns included many from the economically disadvantaged and underserved communities in City of Detroit and around Calumet, Michigan Upper Peninsula. Without the NSF support and the GRACE project, these students would not have the opportunity to work on high-tech GIS projects and contribute to the information creation to support future smart decisions about their community economic development.

 

5. Changes/Problems

 

Executive Summary: The GRACE project did not encounter significant changes or problems, but we have identified a set of implementation challenges in terms of sustaining students’ interest in finishing the recommended ESRI virtual campus training for internship technical skills, matching the internship needs with intern training, finding funds to pay interns stipend and support personnel.

 

There were no significant changes or problems associated with the grant activities. However, we recognize that there are challenges that require more time, effort and funds than we initially estimated:

 

       Intern recruitment occurred faster than anticipated. However, the completion rate of finishing the recommended 8 ESRI virtual campus courses has been lower than expected.  A number of students complained that it was boring and stressful to complete the virtual courses alone. The GRACE project considers restructuring the training courses by adopting newly available ArcGIS Pro based technical training modules. The restructuring will use modularized short courses (2-4 hours) instead of the current long boring and stressful ones (some over 20 hours), and organizing joint instruction team from GIS professionals, teachers and technologists, integrating real-world internship projects into the training, and having persistent and dynamic engagement throughout the internship training process.

 

       Students were recruited to participate in the intensive internship training through their teachers or the educational meetings or student events such as college-campus visits. Some teachers are more energetic than others. As a result, the internship candidates are not evenly distributed across the State, but concentrated in a few locations. In addition, where the internship candidates are located do not necessarily match with the locations where there are needs for GIS interns. These discrepancies in locations have caused additional challenges to place the interns.

 

       The GRACE project proposed a set of incentives for student interns, including the stipend, work-site experience, professional recognition, and job training. However, the option of paid internship with stipend is the sole form of incentive accepted by the students. However, the GRACE does not have a budget to fully sponsor the internship ($1,200 per intern). The seed money the GRACE project has is around $450 and thus the Project is missing $750 per intern. As a result, the GRACE project has taken a flexible funding mechanism, and awarded the stipend according to the availability of funds in a local community. In other words, the amount of stipend was allocated based on the funds that we found at each site. Nevertheless, the lack of complete stipends for all interns has severely limited the flexibilities and options of the GRACE internship program implementation.

 

We also learned that the mentorship from college students (graduate students in particular) was very useful to engage the high school student interns and to provide technical support to the K12 students needed to fulfill the internship GIS projects. It was particularly true in City of Detroit and the UP area. For instance, the city went through bankruptcy recently and many city departments have little or no GIS expertise. In other words, there were no GIS professionals and GIS hardware and software in many of these city departments. The student interns had no support from the GIS professionals in these hiring agencies. Therefore, the interns relied on the graduate students from Eastern Michigan University for both technical support and spiritual encouragement. This was also truce to 13 interns worked in Michigan Upper Peninsula, where the graduate students from Michigan Technology University helped the student interns dramatically. The challenge was that the GRACE project did not have any allocated budget to provide technical support from college graduate students to K12 student interns, which caused financial stress to the GRACE project.