The nationally recognized ACRES program combines instructional coaching, a professional learning community and video communication technologies. The program builds on key STEM skills identified by Click2Science, Dimensions of Success and other learning research groups, but focuses on specific ways educators can practice these skills and reflect on their progress together.
Funded by NSF and STEMNext, the program has recently shared evaluation studies that show impacts over the development phase of the project. The studies indicate two main findings:
- Increased confidence and greater use of the skills, such as how to ask youth "purposeful questions" or give youth "voice and choice" in their STEM learning.
- Increased confidence in skills related to technology, particularly video-based learning strategies such as uploading, editing, sharing and discussing online.
In the fall, afterschool leaders from across the nation will learn to be effective STEM coaches in their own right. They will learn to use video-annotation software and zoom with breakout rooms for hands-on activities, and how to build a "safe and brave" learning culture with their staff.
The ACRES program aligns well with the new NAA STEM credential, focusing on some of the areas where high program quality is most needed.