Glossary

The glossary below contains definitions of key terms from the Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem, focusing on the Philadelphia STEM Equity Collective’s Theory of Change.  Many of these terms can be defined in various ways and may have different meanings to different people working within STEM Ecosystem networks. Creating common definitions of these terms will help provide a shared language and understanding of the work and also help the Collective track its progress on key outcomes using the proposed measures.

 

These definitions were developed through established and recognized STEM, education, and employment sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Science Foundation. The definitions were customized to align with the language and context in the Theory of Change, knowledge of the Collective, the Ecosystem and GSK/PEF’s vision for the work; interviews with local STEM stakeholders; and discussions with a working group of Collective members during the development of the Theory of Change. The definitions in this document are a starting point for the Collective to refine as the Collective and its workgroups flesh out the strategies that they will employ in order to increase the number of Black, Latinx and women Philadelphia students going into STEM careers by 2030.

Definition of Key Terms

  • Backbone: The Backbone Organization in a Collective Impact effort both helps maintain overall strategic coherence and coordinates and manages the day-to-day operations and implementation of work, including stakeholder engagement, communications, data collection and analysis, and other responsibilities  (Source: Collective Impact Forum)

  • Career transferable skills/experiences: Skills developed by a student during an academic or educational opportunity which are desirable to STEM employers and would be applicable and useful in a STEM job or career.

  • Collective Impact Initiatives: Initiatives that involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants. (Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review )

  • Community: Residents/people with lived experience 

  • Culturally competent/responsive: The ability of an individual or organization to effectively operate within the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by their consumers and communities.

  • Diversity: Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. In a nutshell, it’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.  (Source: Global Diversity Practice )

  • Equitable policies and practices: Policies and practices of an employer that are designed to foster a “more diverse, productive workforce; a more equitable and accessible work environment; an inclusive environment where employees are valued; a work environment free from discrimination; and a level playing field for employee success” (Source: UC Berkeley).

  • Equity: The absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically. (Source: World Health Organization)  

  • Expanded Learning Intermediaries: refers to before and after school, summer, intersession learning programs that focus on developing the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs and interests of students through hands-on, engaging learning experiences. (Source: California Department of Education)

  • High quality: Meeting or exceeding the threshold for quality programming/curricula as defined by an established, vetted framework for STEM programs/education. “High quality” indicates a program/curriculum is being implemented with high fidelity and will lead to intended outcomes for participants. 

  • Inclusion: Inclusion is an organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated. These differences could be self-evident, such as national origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion/belief, gender, marital status and socioeconomic status or they could be more inherent, such as educational background, training, sector experience, organizational tenure, even personality, such as introverts and extroverts. (Source: Global Diversity Practice )

  • Latinx: A gender-inclusive term for Latin Americans of diverse identities and orientations - alternative to Latino or Latina. (Source: Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends)

  • Non-degree STEM program: A curriculum of study for postsecondary students that emphasizes the learning and development of STEM skills and competencies (see STEM definition below) within the most common STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) without accumulating credit toward a degree. These courses may be recognizable to employers and count toward career transferable skills. Examples include: UPenn College of Liberal and Professional Studies; Temple College of Engineering; and DragonsTeach STEM certification at Drexel University.

  • OST (Out-of-School Time) programs/providers: Any curricula, program, or activity that operates as enrichment to the traditional curricula of a school (which is typically in a classroom setting, during school hours). OST programs are often held before or after school, over school vacations and summers, and may be held in various community or school-based locations. 

  • Partnerships: Organizations or institutions from different sectors of the STEM ecosystem (OST programs, K-12 education, post-secondary education, and STEM employers) who have working relationships with each other. Criteria for a “partnership” may include: documentation of a working relationship between partners (e.g., MOU, public statement); regularly planning and hosting programs, meetings, or educational opportunities. Partnerships could develop between organizations/institutions in two sectors, or across multiple sectors toward creating a STEM “pathway.”

  • Philadelphia K-12 schools: Schools of any type – public, charter, private, Catholic – that operate within Philadelphia county. The EdNA database is a resource for identifying schools.

  • Philadelphia STEM Education Directory: A searchable map of opportunities in STEM in the Greater Philadelphia area compiled by the Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem. The directory can help K-12 students and their families find out-of-school time STEM programs, as well as teachers and educators locate STEM professional development opportunities. The directory can be found here: https://philastemdirectory.org

  • Post-secondary education: A period of education that typically takes place after secondary education (grades K-12) is completed. The following types of education would qualify as “post-secondary”: university, college, vocational school, and trade school. Post-secondary education culminates with a degree, credential, or certificate, including: Doctorate, Master’s degree, Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree, and other industry recognized certificates and credentials.

  • Pre-requisite classes: A course that must be successfully completed prior to entering a STEM field of study or program, or before taking another course in that sequence. Sample pre-requisite classes are: Calculus, Statistics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Physics (Source: The College Board). 

  • Remediation and preparation: These include any opportunities (i.e., programs and strategies) offered by a post-secondary institution to improve the outcomes of students to enter and excel in STEM programs of study, such as: co-requisite remediation (non-credit courses offered alongside college-level courses to provide academic support) and tutoring (academic support offered individually or in a group setting outside of the traditional classroom curriculum).

  • Scientific literacy: The knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. It also includes specific types of abilities. (Source: National Science Education Standards)

  • Senior employees: Employees who are involved in the day-to-day tasks and decision-making to effectively manage an organization. STEM employers may define their senior employees using different criteria.

  • Steering Committee:  A group of cross-sector community partners representative of the relevant ecosystem that provides strategic direction for the Collective Impact initiative and champions its work. (Source: Collective Impact Forum Steering Committee Toolkit)

  • STEM:  Acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

  • STEM Education: An integrated, interdisciplinary, and student-centered approach to learning that encourages curiosity, creativity, artistic expression, collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and design thinking. These skills may be developed in school subjects including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; however, these skills cut across many subject areas (Source: PA Department of Education).

  • STEM careers: A field of employment in which workers use their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math to understand how the world works and to solve complex problems. Types of STEM occupations include: research, development, design, or practitioner; technologist and technician; postsecondary teaching; managerial; and sales occupations. A STEM career could also be defined using the key skills and competencies identified in the definition of STEM (see above) (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

  • STEM literacy: is the ability to identify, apply and integrate concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to understand complex problems and to innovate to solve them. (Source: Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction)

  • STEM employers: Employers who hire workers to use their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math to understand how the world works and to solve complex problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies “Core Domains” of STEM occupations as: life science; physical science; engineering; math; information technology; and social science occupations. A second domain of occupations that are reliant on STEM knowledge are: architecture and health occupations. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

  • STEM majors/fields of study: A curriculum of study for postsecondary students that emphasizes learning and development of STEM skills and competencies (see STEM definition above) within the most common STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) that can result in an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and/or doctoral degree upon completion of the program. Sample STEM majors (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce): 

    • Computer majors (computer and information systems; computer programming and data processing; computer science; information sciences; computer administration management and security; computer networking and telecommunications)

    • Math majors (mathematics; applied mathematics; statistic and decision science; mathematics and computer science)

    • Engineering majors (general engineering; aerospace; biological; architectural; biomedical; chemical; civil; computer; electrical; environmental; geological and geophysical; industrial and manufacturing; materials engineering and materials science; mechanical; metallurgical; mining and mineral; naval architecture and marine; nuclear; petroleum; misc.; engineering technologies; engineering and industrial management; electrical engineering technology; industrial production technologies; mechanical engineering related technologies; military technologies)

    • Physical and Life Science majors (animal sciences; food sciences; plants sciences and agronomy; soil sciences; environmental science; biology; biochemical sciences; botany; molecular biology; ecology; genetics; microbiology; pharmacology; physiology; zoology; misc.; nutrition sciences; neuroscience; cognitive science and biopsychology; physical sciences; astronomy and astrophysics; atmospheric sciences and meteorology; chemistry; geology and earth science; geosciences; oceanography; physics; and nuclear, industrial radiology, biological technologies.   

  • STEM resources: Materials that can provide STEM enrichment and exposure in a home environment, such as in-home STEM kits.

  • STEM teachers: Teachers who provide lessons on STEM topics/subjects. This could mean a teacher who teaches STEM as their primary subject (such as middle school or high school teachers), or any teacher who teaches an array of subjects, including STEM (such as elementary school teachers).

  • Well-compensated: Compensation (salary and benefits) that is at or above the average for the area that meets minimum standards to lead a quality life.

  • Workgroup: The heartbeat of collective impact: where action occurs and goals are brought to life. These groups are where practitioners come together to contribute their time, expertise, passions, and lived experiences to help develop and implement strategies. (Source: How to Lead Collective Impact Working Groups: A Comprehensive Toolkit)

  • Wraparound services/supports: Holistic, comprehensive services that are offered as supports alongside other types of STEM programming, such as food, transportation, childcare, counseling, etc.