Hi folks. Thanks for viewing! Check out our website at outlier.uchicago.edu/s3 for more STEM School fun.
I am curious to know whether the good practices you identified in STEM schools are applicable to STEM teaching and learning in non-STEM schools.
Hi Carolina – Although we haven’t specifically studied the “effectiveness” of any of these strategies (yet), many would argue that the strategies identified by STEM schools are strategies that could be employed much more broadly. In fact, most of essential components identified by STEM schools in our study have little to do with the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
I study STEM integration and have been asked often, “If STEM is a focus, what does my child lose out on?” I find this a really interesting question. How would you answer it?
Hi Tamara – Our schools would argue that students are not losing out on any other key academic areas. In fact, many of them have told us that students receive just as strong preparation in non-STEM disciplines as STEM disciplines. The schools in our study focus more on pedagogical and cultural strategies to realize all academic (and socioemotional) goals for students.
I enjoyed the video, and your document on the 8 elements from your website. One of the key “community” behaviors is “Staff shares with others practices they enact…” and also in these schools there’s teacher collaboration and reflection. These are hard to make happen in most schools. What have these schools done (or some of them, I imagine there’s a lot of variation) to really make teacher collaboration and reflection part of their cultures?
Hi Brian – Agreed! Teachers have so many competing demands. Many teachers have told us that principal/leadership support for time and resources for these activities is critical. Schools use a lot of different structures to allow for these activities. In some schools, all teachers have a free period to plan. In others, teachers meet weekly before or after school to collaborate. At schools where spreading best practices is a key goal – principals (and sometimes district leaders) provide time and funding for staff to lead external growth and development sessions. Many of our schools were developed with these structures in place. At other schools, transitioning to a schedule and resource allocation can take time.
This is an excellent, detailed model of what a STEM school really is as opposed to the more normal amorphous concept. One thing that does concern me with STEM in general and your model as presented (I will visit your website) is a lack of any focus on civics or humanities -sometimes subsumed under the concept of STEAM) Do you address this concern at all in your model?
Hi Al- Great question! If you visit our website, you’ll notice a section called “Where is the S.T.E.M. in STEM?”. This section begins to detail the phenomenon we find wherein most of our schools tend to not highlight STEM disciplines a key element of their school’s focus. Rather, when asked about their school models they talk most about pedagogical and cultural strategies. Certainly, many of our schools have high graduation requirements for science and math, or may offer specialized STEM subject courses. However, many schools in our study indicate that non-STEM disciplines are just as rigorous. In fact, a big part of how many of our schools focus on “STEM” is through interdisciplinary instruction. Social sciences (particularly history) are often some of the classes that experience a lot of interdisciplinary instruction.Teachers may collaborate to develop projects that integrate science concepts with history, or highlight the culture surrounding technological advances. So, while most of our schools tell us that all disciplines receive rigorous attention – we have also seen unique ways that social sciences and STEM disciplines can interact. We have collected a lot of quantitative AND qualitative data and will be sharing some of our findings on interdisciplinary instruction this year. Stay tuned!
I really like the ‘woman on the street’ introduction to this video. It really helps the audience understand the focus of the project. Your data appears to be a lot of self-reporting and document analysis. Have you observed students and teachers? How do you make use of student scores on assignments and tests as part of your evaluation?
Hi David – We do observe and interview teachers and students at a sub-sample of our participating schools (in addition to teacher/student/school leader surveys at all participating schools). Analysis of these pieces is forthcoming. We do collect some state test scores (and grades) from many of our schools. We will examine differences in implementation (teacher strategies and student participation in various strategies) on achievement. However, this analysis contains many methodological challenges – for example, dealing with school fixed effects and lack of consistent data across states and districts. In addition, we don’t necessarily feel that standardized test scores should always be “the bar” that STEM schools are held to. Standardized tests have a number of limitations, and many of our schools tend to focus much less on standardized test-taking than traditional schools. Instead they focus on different goals, such as preparing students with strong 21st century skills (communication, collaboration, time management, organization, problem-solving, leadership, etc.) They work to prepare students to be flexible and have strong strategies in place for careers and college. Thus, a large focus of our outcome research will be on students’ attitudes and self-perceptions about themselves, STEM, and their future. We feel there is also a definite need for research that examines longer-term outcomes for STEM schools that really fit the goals of these schools. (And in fact, this is a challenge for educators beyond STEM schools.) As inclusive STEM high schools are beginning to have cohorts of graduates progress 4-5 years or more after HS graduation, studying some of these outcomes is becoming plausible.
Hi Melanie! You’re awesome.
Why thanks, Ms. Rand. You’re pretty stellar yourself!
Good review of what is a STEM school.
Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.
This video will showcase interactive findings from STEM schools across the country. The video will describe the 8 Elements of STEM schools and explore ways that inclusive STEM high schools are similar and different.
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Funded by NSF