Mentorship and near-peer facilitation is a significant component of the making program at CSUSM STEM Center. Maker VISTA member Alivn Hiedo trains, coaches and supports undergraduate student STEM Ambassadors and Community Service Learning (CSL) volunteers in their work with local middle school students at high-need schools. As both a tracking/documentation tool and a forum for collaboration, Alvin has begun leading meetings each week, wherein team members can share obstacles, best practices, and troubleshooting techniques. This month, Alvin and his teams spent time thought-partnering around commonly occurring questions like:
- How can I engage middle school students further when it comes to teaching them the science behind each maker activity?
- What can I do when there is not enough materials for an activity for each middle school student?
In another documentation slash feedback forum hybrid, Alvin also recently developed an online questionnaire for CSL volunteers who have completed their participation in the middle school mobile making program. After answering questions pertaining to their overall experience with teaching in the partner middle schools, Alvin also followed up with a verbal, in-person conversation about their success and challenges. Alvin has already found that the combination of both a more “formal” and anonymous survey, with a face-to-face debrief has proved rich in information-gathering and rewarding in terms of relationship-building with volunteers. Similarly, Alvin also documents the experiences and feedback of the middle school students themselves, by asking them each week to fill out a “Session Feedback Form.” This form contains questions about activity, and it gives Alvin and the internal program staff a chance to see what resonated with the middle school students in that week’s activity. These modes of sharing and tracking have already proved helpful in terms of training, tweaking activities, and building classroom management skills.