This school has a STEM program designed to break down the traditional silos between learning areas by having students engage in hands-on, project-based learning using real-world problems to activate curricular and core competencies.
For many years, the teacher has given a final exam that involves a series of problem-solving challenges that span the topics covered. While this exam provided the teacher with information about student understanding, he felt it did not fully capture his students’ complex and highly personalized learning experiences. He was considering another approach for his final exam when he was inspired by a webinar, “Who Gets In? The Truths and Myths of how Canadian Universities Make Admission Decision”.
In the webinar, Andrew Arida, Deputy Registrar of Enrollment of UBC, discusses how post-secondary admission has changed. Arida explains that it is no longer enough for students to just excel on content heavy exams. It is now vital for them to be able to speak effectively about their personal learning experiences. The teacher decided that his new final exam would provide students with the opportunity to communicate their learning with voice and substance.
Students were asked to watch a video clip where Arida presented an example of a student reflecting honestly on their learning experiences and predicting what might lie ahead for them. Rather than focusing solely on content knowledge, the student in the video explores the questions: Where am I? Where am I going? How will I get there?
Students were then asked to think about their experiences over the year with Physics and Mathematics in the STEM program. The teacher gave them guiding questions such as:
- What is physics/mathematics?
- After completing seven projects, do you see any common threads that help you understand how physics/mathematics works?
- What is unique about this type of study?
- What was your favourite physics/mathematics moment? How might it be useful in your future?
Students were asked to compile their thoughts into a 4-5 minute video reflection on their learning in the program.
Student Work Sample
I can examine evidence from various perspectives to analyze and make well-supported judgments about and interpretations of about complex issues.
I can determine my own framework and criteria for tasks that involve critical thinking. I can compile evidence and draw reasoned conclusions. I consider perspectives that do not fit with my understandings. I am open-minded and patient, taking the time to explore, discover, and understand. I make choices that will help me create my intended impact on an audience or situation. I can place my work and that of others in a broader context. I can connect the results of my inquiries and analyses with action. I can articulate a keen awareness of my strengths, my aspirations and how my experiences and contexts affect my frameworks and criteria. I can offer detailed analysis, using specific terminology, of my progress, work and goals.
I communicate confidently, using forms and strategies that show attention to my audience and purpose.
In discussions and conversations, I am focused and help to build and extend understanding. I am an engaged listener; I ask thought-provoking questions when appropriate and integrate new information. I can create a wide range of communications that feature powerful images and words, and I identify ways to change communications to make them effective for different audiences. I use my understanding of the role and impact of story to engage my audiences in making meaning. I acquire information about complex and specialized topics from various sources, synthesize it, and present it with thoughtful analysis.
I can recognize my strengths and take responsibility for using strategies to focus, manage stress, and accomplish my goals.
I advocate for myself and my ideas; I accept myself. I am willing to engage with ideas or information that is challenging for me. I can be focused and determined. I can set realistic goals, use strategies to accomplish them, and persevere with challenging tasks. I can tell when I am becoming angry, upset, or frustrated, and I have strategies to calm myself. I can make choices that benefit my well-being and keep me safe in the communities I belong to.