The institutional cohort postdoctoral fellowship program for Community Engaged Disciplinary and Educational Researchers in STEM (CEDERS) is designed to enhance the research knowledge, skills, and practices of recent doctoral graduates in STEM Education. Community outreach and public dissemination are regular features of the work that STEM researchers do. However, traditional approaches to university-community partnerships privilege academic expertise. In contrast, community engaged scholarship (CES) encourages a more democratic process and exchange of multiple types of expertise. This approach can welcome engagement among communities who often have more knowledge of social issues than academic researchers. Consequently, CES in STEM holds promise to broaden participation in STEM-related fields. The CEDERS program is designed to prioritize CES in educational research projects led by postdoctoral fellows and done in collaboration with STEM researchers and community stakeholders. Findings from the fellows' projects have the potential to influence the direction of STEM outreach and education that will reach a large number of community stakeholders. Hence, this project may directly improve the effectiveness of STEM outreach and education to serve the needs of communities. Further, this model for a STEM educator-STEM disciplinary researcher-community partnership can provide a pathway to CES at other institutions working towards the goal of broadening participation in STEM on an even larger scale.
The project activities will integrate the best practices of STEM postdoctoral development and CES learning to elevate training of STEM education postdoctoral fellows through (1) engagement in research that facilitates collaboration among STEM education and STEM disciplinary scholars and community partners; (2) design of research that aims for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources across institutional and community stakeholders for the purpose of broadening participation in STEM in PreK-16 contexts; and (3) access to resources and relationships, including participation in multiple groups and communities that can expand early career scholars' connectedness. Integrating across these approaches can improve not only the postdoctoral fellows' capacity for impactful research but also their preparedness for a professional career in STEM education. To reflect the collaborative nature of the project, postdoctoral fellows will be mentored by a committee of STEM education and STEM faculty and supported through individualized research and professional development plans. These plans follow effective models for building capacity for engaged scholarship along a competency-based trajectory and incorporate promising practices for faculty development.
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