Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing

Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
Established: 1991

Profile submitted by Marion Usselman

Vision and Goals

The Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) (pronounced like "seismic") is a partnership uniting the Georgia Institute of Technology with educational groups, schools, corporations, and opinion leaders throughout the state of Georgia. CEISMC advocates and participates in efforts for systemic changes that lead to improved appreciation and performance in STEM for all K-12 students, especially those under-represented in STEM education, and disseminates best practices to districts and nationally through scholarly works.

Center/Program Structure

CEISMC is a unit in the Georgia Tech College of Sciences, created in 1991 as a STEM educational outreach center, with an additional mission to promote effective STEM teaching at all levels. There are currently approximately 48 employees, including research faculty, educational program staff, evaluators, postdocs, instructional designers, and administrative/technical support staff. CEISMC collaborates extensively across campus, particularly within the College of Science, College of Engineering, the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), and Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE). Collaborators across the state include the Georgia Department of Education, the Office of the Governor, educational support organizations, and many individual school systems and individual schools.

Successes and Impacts

CEISMC programming can be divided into multiple domains: 1) Teacher Professional Learning, 2) STEM Curriculum Development, 3) Out-of-school and Informal Student Learning, 4) University/K-12 Partnerships, 5) Evaluation of educational programs, 6) Research on student learning and 7) Research on implementation of STEM educational reforms in authentic settings. Programs large and small are generally the result of extensive collaborations, and are primarily funded through sponsored grants, contracts and foundation gifts. Major funders include NSF (through the GK-12, DRK-12, I3, RET and MSP programs), the Georgia and U.S. Departments of Education (through the MSP and Race to the Top programs), NASA (through NASA LE&RN), and private foundations (e.g. the Blank Foundation and Goizueta Foundation). Student enrichment programs are also funded through program fees.

All CEISMC programs focus as much as possible on improving access to high quality STEM education for all students, particularly those who are at-risk or traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Large sponsored programs, such as the NSF Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated to Unlock Potential (AMP-IT-UP) Math and Science Partnership program, might include all of the 7 domains listed above as part of a systemic intervention. Others, such as the CEISMC summer Programs for Enrichment and Accelerated Knowledge in STEM (PEAKS), focus on just one, in this case out-of-school and informal student learning. Other large initiatives include 1) The Georgia Race to the Top program, conducted in collaboration with the GA Dept. of Education; 2) Science Learning Integrating Design, Engineering and Robotics (SLIDER), an NSF Discovery Research K-12 project; 3) Georgia Intern Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT), a research experiences for teachers program that was founded in 1991 and places over 100 teachers per year into summer research experiences; 4) Pathways into STEM, a program that provides undergraduate student mentors to middle and high school students, 5) The NASA Electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN) that created and offered online courses for teachers in robotics, project-based inquiry learning, technology integration and statistics; and 6) GoSTEM, an initiative funded by the Goizueta Foundation to inprove Hispanic K-12 education in Georgia.

The CEISMC Evaluation Group, which is currently overseeing 15 evaluation research projects, consists of seven research faculty who have significant expertise in evaluating STEM-related educational programs in areas such as K-12 educational curricula, teacher professional development, after-school programs, comprehensive school reform initiatives, and distance-learning. The CEISMC Evaluation Group focuses on encouraging the development of knowledge and expertise in evidence-based decision-making using the platforms of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The group participates in research on CEISMC's sponsored grants and conducts program evaluation for other educational entitites.

Elements Contributing to Success

Since CEISMC is a large and very well established center, it is difficult to identify a small number of biggest successes. The biggest success is the longivity, size and reach of the organization, as measured by the number of programs, participants, grants and partners that we work with.

The impacts of CEISMC programs are measured through multi-methods, in which we blend quantitative data with robust qualitative data to assess both program merits and outcomes. Our data synthesis includes analysis of qualitative data (interviews, focus groups, document analysis, and case studies) and quantitative analysis of student attitudes, behavioral changes, and learning.

Supplemental Materials

CEISMC has always been a self-standing unit in the Georgia Tech College of Sciences, with a modest amount of state funding. It has always enjoyed support from the Dean of the College of Sciences, and has been valued by the administration as an effective means of connecting to the broader community in Georgia. The CEISMC staff have been able to forge strong partnerships with academic faculty across campus, and provide advice and consultations to faculty writing research grants. The center's programs are diversified, and the staff has been very entrepreneurial in pursuing grants and contracts from multiple sources.