The outcomes of Discovery have been disseminated at a number of international conferences, and have been highlighted in news stories. These can be accessed through external links:
Callaghan, N.I., Khaira, S., Ouyang, A. et al. Discovery: Virtual Implementation of Inquiry-Based Remote Learning for Secondary STEM Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Biomed Eng Education (2020).
Davenport Huyer, L., Callaghan, N. I., & Kilkenny, D. M. (2020, June), Graduate Student Pedagogical Impact Through Development and Delivery of a Collaborative Inquiry-focused High School STEM Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line .
Callaghan, N. I., & Cadavid, J. L., & Chang, H. H., & Co, I. L., & Ivanov, N., & Tran-Nguyen, N., & Rubianto, J., & Davenport Huyer, L., & Kilkenny, D. M. (2020, June), Discovery: Differential Student Impact is Evident Within an Inquiry-focused Secondary/Post-secondary Collaborative STEM Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference.
The onset of COVID-19 and subsequent cancellation of regularly-scheduled on-campus Discovery activities in Spring 2020 provided an opportunity to pivot learning objectives to the virtual environment. The instructional team sought to develop challenging yet feasible virtual projects in keeping with the experiential learning of Discovery. Emphasis was placed on critical thinking and quantitative analysis, with maintenance of the degree of autonomy and creativity inherent to a traditional engineering or science pursuit. As a result of partnership with local schools, Discovery content must meet Ontario STEM curriculum learning outcomes and promote development of scientific investigation and career exploration skills. Spring 2020 presented an additional challenge to program engagement given that the Ministry of Education mandated that student course grades would not decrease, but could increase, from pre-COVID levels post-school closure. Although students were aware that Discovery engagement tends toward an increase in final grades,1 the challenge remained to ensure subject matter was sufficiently relevant and interesting for students to retain motivation and engage maximally with the program.
Discovery: Virtual Implementation of Inquiry-Based Remote Learning for Secondary STEM Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Huyer, Locke Davenport, Neal I. Callaghan, Jose L. Cadavid Cardenas, Huntley Chang, Nicolas Ivanov, Jonathan Rubianto, Nhien Tran-Nguyen, and Dawn M. Kilkenny. "EXPANDED CROSS-DISCIPLINE IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY OF DISCOVERY: A BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING-THEMED EDUCATION PROGRAM BRIDGING SECONDARY AND POST-SECONDARY LEARNING." Proceedings of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) (2020)
High school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula are generally knowledge-based in methodology and focus on content delivery in preparation for post-secondary study. However, the rapid technological change at the cutting edge and the rate of global integration in STEM highlight the importance in developing a holistic critical thinking framework for student learning. In 2016, graduate students at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering created Discovery, a collaborative high school educational program focused on critical thinking skill development through inquiry in the context of biomedical engineering (BME) . Aligning with demonstrated evidence that inquiry-based active learning approaches are more effective in enhancing student learning than traditional teaching methods , evaluation in Discovery reinforces the value of a differential learning environment for high school STEM students who struggle in a knowledge-focused classroom [3,4]. In addition, the Discovery model is shown to enhance student attitudes towards STEM and post-secondary education, meanwhile providing robust opportunity for graduate trainees to develop and apply pedagogical skills through development of curriculum appropriate for university-preparatory students. Program impact provides opportunities to discuss this unique learning framework, collaborative delivery strategy, and implementation strategy of Discovery as a resource for translation to disciplines beyond BME, and institutions beyond the University of Toronto.
Expanded Cross-Discipline Implementation Strategy of Discovery: A Biomedical Engineering-Themed Education Program Bridging Secondary and Post-Secondary Learning.
Enhancing senior high school student engagement and academic performance using an inclusive and scalable inquiry-based program. Locke Davenport Huyer, Neal I. Callaghan, Sara Dicks, Edward Scherer, Andrey I.Shukalyuk, Margaret Jou, Dawn M. Kilkenny. bioRxiv 822783; (Preprint, study is currently under peer review). doi:
The multi-disciplinary nature of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers often renders difficulty for high school students navigating from classroom knowledge to post-secondary pursuits. Discrepancies between the knowledge-based high school learning approach and the experiential approach of undergraduate studies leaves some students disillusioned by STEM. We present Discovery, a semester-long inquiry-focused learning model delivered by STEM graduate students in collaboration with high school educators, in the context of biomedical engineering. Entire classes of high school STEM students representing diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds engaged in iterative, problem-based learning designed to emphasize critical thinking concomitantly within the secondary school and university environments. Assessment of grades and survey data suggested positive impact of this learning model on students’ STEM pursuits, notably in under-performing cohorts, as well as repeating cohorts that engage in the program on more than one occasion. Discovery presents a scalable platform blurring the divide between secondary and post-secondary learning, providing valuable learning opportunities and capturing cohorts of students that might otherwise be under-engaged in STEM.
Enhancing senior highschool student engagement and academic performance using an inclusive and scaleable inquiry-based program.
Davenport Huyer, L., Callaghan, N.I., Smieja, D.‡, Saab, R.‡, Kilkenny, D.M. IBBME Discovery: Biomedical engineering-based iterative learning in a high school STEM curriculum (Evaluation). Conference proceedings of American Society for Engineering Education Annual Meeting. 2018; Available:
Senior high school students often struggle with recognizing the link between human health care and engineering, resulting in limited recruitment for post-secondary biomedical engineering (BME) study. To enhance student comprehension and recruitment in the field, BME graduate student instructors have developed and launched Discovery, a collaborative high school outreach program that promotes and engages students in the application of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts.
IBBME Discovery: Biomedical Engineering-based Iterative Learning in a High School STEM Curriculum (Evaluation).
Presented at PCEE Biomedical Engineering.
Davenport Huyer, L., Conant, G., Bui, C.V.‡, Kinsella, B.G.‡, Vegh, A.‡, Ramadan, S., Lauton, B., Shukalyuk, A.I., Kilkenny, D.M. Discovery Program: integrating biomedical engineering graduate instructors with high school STEM curriculum. Conference Proceedings of Canadian Engineering Education Association Conference. 2017; DOI:
With the diverse nature of the biomedical engineering (BME) field, high school students are often limited in their understanding of the area during consideration for post-secondary study. In effort to improve student comprehension, as well as provide a unique learning opportunity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, graduate students at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME; University of Toronto) have developed and launched the IBBME Discovery Program. In strong collaboration with high school educators, graduate student instructors designed and executed activity- and designbased learning focused on applicable topics in BME aligned with Ontario high school science curriculum learning outcomes. Results from this pilot suggest strong student engagement in data-based experimental learning, and graduate student development in knowledge translation and activity design through collaboration. These results provide a strong foundation for program growth and quantitative assessment.