1. Denise Nacu
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Digital Youth Divas
  4. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  5. DePaul University
  1. Sheena Erete
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Digital Youth Divas
  4. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  5. DePaul University
  1. Evelyn Flores
  2. http://eveflores.com
  3. Digital Youth Divas
  4. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  5. DePaul University, Digital Youth Network, Northwestern University
  1. Nichole Pinkard
  2. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/staff/nichole-pinkard/
  3. Associate Professor and Co-Founder of Digital Youth Network
  4. Digital Youth Divas
  5. http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/divas/
  6. Northwestern University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 10:10 p.m.
    Greetings and thank you for checking out our video! While the Digital Youth Divas program has been in development for several years now, one current area of focus is working with mentors to co-create ways to work with data related to the engagement of girls in our after school STEM programs. We are experimenting with methods to collect data about girls’ experiences and interests in a way that can lead to actionable insights for mentors. Especially for informal programs targeted to middle school aged girls, we know that creating positive environments to trigger and sustain STEM interests is critical.
     
    We would love to hear from others who are thinking about how to use different types of data to inform week-to-week or in-the-moment practice. What types of data are you collecting? How are you using it to inform practice? How is professional development for mentors organized to make use of data? How are you responding to differences observed with regard to participants' interest and engagement in your programs? These are just some of the questions we are particularly interested in.
      
    Thanks again for visiting, and we are looking forward to connecting and learning from you!
  • Icon for: Judy Brown

    Judy Brown

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:57 a.m.

    Love the immediacy of the feedback you are getting so you can make program improvements in a timely manner!  Interested in learning your ratio of mentors to girls and what kind ( topics, methods, duration) of mentor training do you provide prior to  program inception.

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 07:42 p.m.
    Thanks for your response! For this implementation of Digital Youth Divas (DYD), we have two locations running and each have two mentors. In one location we have about 15 girls, and about 10 in the other. Consistency of attendance, particularly for this informal (and free) program, is an issue we are working on. 
     
    For professional development, we organized a 4-day training for mentors which focused on topics like principles and research on which the DYD program is based, reviewing the curriculum, and ways to build community. We also organized activities for mentors to reflect on specific learning support roles they play, including brokering girls to future learning opportunities — this was a particular focus we don't highlight in our video. Once the program started, we had weekly PD meetings (2-hours) which usually started with a review of “the Dailies” (i.e., the data visualizations based on the mini-surveys taken by the girls) and discussion of action steps. We also use PD for co-design activities to connect theoretical ideas introduced in the training session (ex., mentors as learning brokers) to reflections on practice and the girls’ experience.
  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 11:58 a.m.

    I love the name of your project! 

    The idea of ongoing feedback is great particularly because you seem be willing and able to use the collected data in an ongoing way to improve the program and customize it for individual students. I'm not sure you said how many students are participating. (It's possible I missed it.) As the numbers increase, it will be a challenge to stay on top of each student's needs and interest.

    The one question I have about after school efforts such as this is how it connects with their ongoing school curriculum. Also, as the program evolves, will you expect students interest in their in-school STEM programs increase?

     

     

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 07:55 p.m.

    Thanks, Barbara! The name is catchy, isn't it? :)

    We didn't mention the number of girls in the video, but we have about 10-15 youth in each location. We are looking for ways to maintain attention on individual needs as the numbers of girls in a group increase, and as locations increase. One way we are doing that is looking at how interests, identities, and experience in different areas tend to cluster together (using pre-survey data). This is still exploratory, but we are interested in how we can use data as early as possible to create positive experiences for girls in the program.

    Regarding connections to their school curriculum, we are working on plans to bring programs like this into the school buildings (still afterschool), and working with teachers and school leaders on building connections between their in-school and out-of-school STEM learning experiences. We expect that having positive STEM learning experiences in the out-of-school space will make it more likely that girls will engage with in-school offerings. Being able to observe such connections (and potential connections) is important, yet challenging, in terms of methodology.

  • May 14, 2018 | 01:36 p.m.

    Sounds like a wonderful program! The weekly mini-surveys are very interesting. Our lab is also looking at girls' sense of belonging in STEM--have you found that certain group activities or practices lead to an immediate boost on girls' belonging?

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 08:22 p.m.
    Thank you so much, Allison!

    When mentors have observed girls reporting a low sense of belonging, they have tried several approaches to helping them feel included. A general one would be using icebreakers at the beginning of the sessions to create a positive mood for everyone. To address specific girls, mentors would ask them to help other girls with their projects to help them interact more. In one case, a mentor named a girl the "Diva of the Day" to acknowledge her participation. Mentors also used information about belonging by encouraging girls to sit in different seats so they could talk to other girls they hadn't before.  On the whole, mentors have really focused on the goal of building community and positive relationships. I think it has been important for the program to highlight the importance of belonging.
  • Icon for: Jameela Jafri

    Jameela Jafri

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2018 | 04:23 p.m.

    I really appreciate how identity development is foregrounded in the work. We have found in our Sisters4Science program that developing identity and ownership in the program by focusing on relationships (between youth and between youth/mentors) is critical to engagement. I love the formative feedback provided by youth, allowing facilitators the opportunity to modify and adapt during the program, rather than after.

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 08:28 p.m.

    Yes! It's all about the relationships. Thanks for responding.

  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 07:01 p.m.

    Such an impressive use of in-time data to inform the work on the ground! And, I really enjoyed learning how you engage the mentors themselves in reviewing the data and being so engaged in the findings from the research. I'm wondering if you have seen any overarching themes emerge from the data that you can share? Was there anything in the data that surprised you? Or, are you overall seeing results that you anticipated?

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 08:35 p.m.

    Thanks! We are really excited about being able to use data in this way.

    One observation is that pre-existing interests and engagement during the sessions are not strongly linked to attendance. While this is not quite surprising, the data helps highlight the "hidden" obstacles to participation. These include transportation to the site, conflicts with other after-school activities, and not having close friends in the program. One practice that has emerged is weekly calls home to check in with parents/caring adults to understand reasons for not attending and to encourage participation.

    We plan to dig deeper into overall trends this summer. Thanks for responding!

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:18 a.m.

    I enjoyed watching your video and thank you for sharing this work! The Digital Youth Divas sounds like a wonderful opportunity for girls to engage in STEM in ways that connect to their interests. I also enjoyed hearing the perspective of the mentors and learning more about the research-practitioner relationship and the ways the mentors are using data from the project to inform their practice. I’m curious to learn more about how you support girls’ individual or long-term interests beyond the program. Can you also tell us more about any research/evaluation aspects of the project? Specifically, it sounds like identity is a theoretical framing for this work. How are you thinking about or measuring identity in this project? Interest and identity are so intertwined – do you measure both in your work?

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:03 a.m.

    That is a great question. We are exploring questions around identity development with is tied to interest. What we've found thus far is that it is extremely difficult to see change via traditional survey measures but if you explore identity development over time using qualitative measures, then we see a difference. We're using a framework created by Maxine McKinney de Royston and Na’ilah Suad Nasir which is based on early works of Bronfenbrenner from their article, titled “Racialized Learning Ecologies: Understanding Race as a Key Feature of Learning and Developmental Processes in Schools." We explore identity development by girls who are in DYD over 2 years via the four-level framework which involves the following components: social, institutional, cultural and individual.

    We'll be submitting our paper soon so hopefully you'll have a chance to read it!

  • Icon for: Jessica Lehr

    Jessica Lehr

    Undergraduate Student
    May 16, 2018 | 10:18 a.m.

    Hello Denise, 

    I am currently a college student studying Early Childhood Education with a minor in STEM. I think your topic of engaging young girls in STEM is important. Many times, I have heard that young girls don't believe that they could get a job within a STEM field. As I've taken classes and participated in STEM events I have seen others girl and myself grow in confidence. Finding activities and projects that are related to groups of girls will spark their personal interest. My question for you is has there been any activities or projects that had more negative data? The girls were uninterested or had lack of confidence to complete? What were the issues you faced when trying to determine activities based of the daily or weekly surveys? Overall, this is a great video and has ample data to support your claims. I love the use of mentors and the meetings to determine changes or ideas throughout the week. 

    Great job and thank you!

  • Icon for: Denise Nacu

    Denise Nacu

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:28 a.m.
    Hi Jessica!

    Great to hear that you are studying Early Childhood Education and STEM. How wonderful to see that combination of fields.
     
    We've found that individual girls often respond quite differently to projects. In this instance of Digital Youth Divas, a range of projects involving circuits, sewing, design, and coding were offered. For example, they constructed e-cards, e-cuffs, and emoji pillows. The “glowing mood flower” and emoji pillow projects were generally the favorite projects; the e-cuff and coding projects tended to be less favored.  
     
    Looking at the weekly survey data, we could also get a glimpse into how girls were feeling about their project progress, and mentors were able to respond by providing more encouragement or help as needed.

    Thanks for the response!
  • Icon for: Judy Storeygard

    Judy Storeygard

    Researcher
    May 17, 2018 | 08:47 a.m.

    Hi Denise: This sounds like a wonderful project. Building on the last comment, can you describe a couple of projects and what you think the girls learned from them? Thank you. Judy

  • Icon for: Kris Morrissey

    Kris Morrissey

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 01:21 p.m.

     I love this project!  Could you say a bit more about how the mentors are prepared and the nature of the professional development they go through?  

  • Icon for: Ronald Greenberg

    Ronald Greenberg

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 04:20 p.m.

    I am also interested in integration of this with in-school experiences. What are the exact locations you are working in? If with Chicago Public Schools students, perhaps your work with middle school students will make them more inspired and engaged as they proceed to fulfill the CPS high school graduation requirement of taking a CS course. Motivating the students to follow up with other near-term opportunities will greatly leverage your impact.

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 12:40 a.m.

    We worked with CPS or students from CPS areas for the first 3 years. We are now working in the public schools in a diverse suburb. Would love to hear more about your thoughts.

  • May 18, 2018 | 12:39 p.m.

    Such important work!  Do you have any data about the mentors themselves?  How are they keeping motivated?  Also, love the name!  How is this connected to their school day?

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 12:36 a.m.

    Great questions. We're currently writing about the mentor responses and interactions but the professional development sessions are invaluable.

    DYD is an afterschool program.

  • May 19, 2018 | 04:44 p.m.

    Interesting project!  I like the options provided to students to work in projects that expose them to different STEM areas (circuits,  design, coding).  How do you deal with important areas that may be less favored, such as coding?

  • Icon for: Sheena Erete

    Sheena Erete

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 12:34 a.m.

    We believe that there is a set of basic skills that everyone should have and everyone should be exposed to circuitry, fabrication, design, and coding.  Not every student will enjoy every aspect of those four topics. We use every aspect of the program to engage the students and get them through it - including digital narratives of characters who reflect diversity to introduce them to the topics.

  • Icon for: Merle Froschl

    Merle Froschl

    Director, Educational Equity
    May 21, 2018 | 11:28 a.m.

    Congratulations on this work. It is so important that you emphasize the sense of "belonging." In our work on Furthering Girl's Math Identity, the two pillars of math identity are: 1) the belief that you can do math and 2) the belief you belong. 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.