We first calculated the frequency of the inclusion of each theme for each context group.
Aside from the attributes common across all participants interdisciplinary, instructional practices, and real-world problem solving , the statewide PD faculty, a group composed of people with a wide variety of backgrounds, commonly focused on broader concepts such as the global, societal value of STEM education Val. The development of partnerships between schools and STEM professionals was addressed in multiple sessions during the institute, and two thirds of the PD faculty retained ideas about this attribute of STEM education when constructing their concept maps.
Ideas related to technology Tech were not commonly included on the PD faculty maps. Three of the four who included technology were people who worked most directly with it: the STEM school principal whose third- through eighth-grade students all had iPod touches or laptops, one of the business partners, and the district-level CTE director. Equity was a major theme of the institute, including a focused session at the beginning of the week and embedded in multiple sessions throughout.membership.embedded-vision.com/enzymes-in-food-processing-food-science-and-technology.php
Only one third of the PD faculty included standards Stan , although standards received significant attention in a number of sessions during the institute. Also, less than half of this group included ideas about the student learning experience StLE or twenty-first century skills 21CS. The roles of PD faculty outside of the context of the institute might better explain why these three themes were not more frequently included on the concept maps of this group. We will discuss that in a subsequent section.
An eighth-grade science teacher explained:. I mean my kids go off and see three different math teachers. Anthony interview, December 9, Again, the context was important.
Paradigm shift in teaching and learning
Many of the comments reflected a negative relationship between the need to address standards and the desire to enact interdisciplinary, project-based curricula. Shawn, an eighth-grade teacher who had developed a new STEM elective course, commented on standards in this way:. Interview, December 9, These participants worked in two traditional middle schools in a district and state context where teachers were attempting to understand how to support students in meeting CCSS for mathematics and language arts, as measured by state achievement test data.
While the curricular units provided by the TESI project were aligned, the other instructional materials provided by the district were purchased prior to these new standards. For a week, students who had struggled with the content of their math or science courses joined their teachers in tackling engineering design challenges. Only four teachers explicitly identified this as an important feature of STEM education. Others may have implied ideas about equity in other aspects of their concept maps, but there were no other explicit words or ideas either on maps or in interviews that we could code for this theme.
Three themes were seldom included or not included at all.
This reflected a focus of their school philosophy, where building sustainable partnerships was supported with a half-time faculty position dedicated to cultivating business and academic partners to support student learning. Similar to the other context groups, only 5 of the 13 participants from RSA included ideas about technology Tech , although the technology was an explicit component of the school. The robotics and pre-engineering teacher discussed her vision for how technology should be integral to a STEM school:.
For maker space, fabrication projects, things like that. I mean both room as well as having the tools available. You know I mean just. Rachel interview, November 6, The technology was of great importance to some of the RSA participants but not considered by the majority.
Ideas related to standards Stan were included on less than one third of the concept maps of the participants from RSA. While these teachers worked in the same state context as the TrMS teachers, they were located in a different district. More importantly, their school context differed.
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Teachers may have been more focused on the need to develop curriculum to address the school vision of interdisciplinary, project-based learning than to align with standards. You do everything you can to support student success and you make it happen. Because every child can learn, every child wants to learn and be successful.
And we just have practices and things in place in K that separate out, that rank, and we know in our hearts and in our minds that not all students learn everything at the same pace, the same rate. Sandra interview, June 4, Also, the robotics teacher connected the curriculum ideas on her map to the challenge she faced in getting more girls interested in STEM areas Rachel interview, November 6, Others did not specifically reference ideas related to equitable student opportunities.
Teachers of STEM-specific courses comprised the largest group, with 18 participants. Thus, it is not surprising that the most commonly included themes by individual and by context group are also those that STEM teachers most commonly included. They must identify or develop interdisciplinary curricula IntDis and determine how to bridge from in-school to real-world problems RWPS.
They understand that supporting students in the project- or problem-based learning experiences StLE will require instructional approaches that may differ from traditional, teacher-centered practices InstPrac. The interdisciplinary nature of STEM learning was by far the most salient feature for non-STEM teachers as well, and a significant focus by the administrators and external partners. But like literally every single thing is intermingled. All of it just goes together. Brittany interview, November 10, Real-world problem solving RWPS and ideas about instructional practices InstPrac were also included by the majority of non-STEM teachers, but the remaining themes were not consistently included.
Many of the non-STEM teachers connected the need for an interdisciplinary approach to real-world problem solving yet faced challenges in connecting this approach to the standards they felt necessary to address. I wish we had more time. School and district administrators all included ideas related to instructional practices, and most also included ideas about the student learning experience StLE and interdisciplinary curricula IntDis.
Administrators largely recognized most of the thematic elements of STEM education, except for the more global value Val. In comparison, nearly all the external partners regional PD providers and business or organization partners included ideas related to this broader value of STEM education Val as well as connections to real-world problems RWPS.
External partners included external partnerships at a higher frequency than other groups. Administrators, who tend to have responsibilities that relate to a large number of educational issues, gave explicit attention to numerous elements.
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Similarly, the broader outlook of the external partners, reflected in their attention to global values of STEM education in their concept maps, is consistent with their duties and responsibilities inside the STEM education system. The ways in which the teacher participants made sense of STEM education was also consistent with their roles and responsibilities. Most teachers found interdisciplinary and real-world connections to be especially relevant.
However, STEM teachers were also more likely to consider content standards, instructional approaches commonly associated with STEM education such as project-based learning, and twenty-first century skills in their conceptions. Non-STEM teachers were much more attentive to more general attributes of instruction, such as student-centered practices, engagement, and participation.
Those working with the implementation of STEM education are well aware that while core elements have been identified Kelley and Knowles ; LaForce et al. In this way, enacting STEM education entails innovation and motivates sensemaking. What is seen as most important to attend to or innovate around may differ in relation to professional roles and contexts. Sensemaking provided a useful framework Fig. Context appears to have some relationship with the ideas about STEM education noticed and retained by participants.
On the other hand, the professional identities of non-STEM teachers e.
Teachers at the two middle schools were enacting STEM curricula in the context of a traditional middle school, with compartmentalized science and mathematics and a curricular focus aligned with statewide tests. Given these constraints, teachers in a more traditional school context may not take up ideas about STEM education that they encounter in professional learning experiences as readily as those in a STEM school context.
The PD faculty worked in various professional contexts, with most in non-school settings. For the TrMS teachers, there was an ongoing dialog with their colleagues, the PD providers, their instructional coaches, and their administrators. We can imagine that not only the traditional structures of the schools but also the differing ideas about and experiences with curriculum, instruction, and learning held by everyone involved in these conversations influenced the STEM education ideas the TrMS teachers selected and retained. Each drew upon relevant experiences from their professional roles and from educational research as they collectively developed a STEM education framework for each summer institute.
At RSA, teachers met weekly to jointly develop curriculum and discuss student progress and school development. Teachers and administrators received feedback from the community of STEM professionals, parents, and district administrators, which also informed their conversations and subsequent sensemaking. However, identifying attributes and realizing these in practice are very different. For example, the interdisciplinary or integrated curriculum was the most identified theme across all concept maps. However, this may not be easily accomplished at many middle and high schools in the USA, as disciplinary skills and knowledge are often siloed, pacing guides determine time devoted to a given concept, and students move to different teachers in different groups.
Opportunities to set up and engage in long-term STEM-related projects are constrained by these institutionalized practices as well as by space and equipment.
Citations per year
Addressing this commonly identified attribute of STEM education will require tremendous creativity and resources. Our analysis revealed other attributes that only a few included. The overall low representation of STEM education as an opportunity for all students is troubling. It may be that this was a concept educators considered but held distinct from STEM education. The development of a STEM-literate citizenry and increased opportunities for all students to pursue STEM-related professions will require educators to explicitly address how students are included in or excluded from meaningful STEM learning.
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