Evaluation and Research

Evaluation
The Project GUTS evaluation has been structured around the following questions:
(1) Does Project GUTS recruit and retain a diversity of students in project efforts
(2) What have students learned about complex adaptive systems, technology, and computer modeling through participating in Project GUTS?
(3) How have participating youth's attitudes about technology and STEM changed over the course of their participation in Project GUTS?
(4) How does participating in Project GUTS as a contracted after school teacher impact teachers'
pedagogy in the regular classroom? And
(5) How does a Project GUTS expanded partnership facilitate project sustainability?

Data collection methods will include an array of tools including short surveys for establishing baseline measures to compare to year end measures, student work, individual and group interviews with key stakeholders, reflective writing, and observations of after school sessions, student roundtables, advisory and planning board meetings, summer sessions, and select school day classes.

Research
The research component of this project will focus on understanding the ways in which middle school youth integrate scientific knowledge grounded in complex systems concepts and place-based learning into their conceptual networks.

Research questions include:
(1) How do youth integrate new ways of looking at scientific phenomena?
(2) Do youth construct new conceptual bins to integrate complex systems concepts into their internal conceptual frameworks?
(3) How do these bins relate to scientific knowledge that they already have?
(4) How do these bins relate to their understandings of issues in their community or of personal relevance? And
(5) What are the benefits of complex systems and place-based learning to students' appreciation for and comprehension of the world around them?

Methods to be used to study these questions include concept mapping with students, examining of students' descriptions of natural phenomenon before exposure to complex systems and after exposure, reflective writing, and one-to-one interviews. The concept mapping and descriptive explanations will enable us to examine content understanding while qualitative methods will allow us to explore perceptual and subjective factors to deepen understanding of how youth incorporate Complex Adaptive Systems and place-based learning into their understandings of the world around them.