ERG SES C 05, STEM Education
Nowadays, in order to develop new scientific knowledge and technology, nations need citizens who are able to use scientific and technological knowledge to design new products and processes(Kennedy & Odell, 2014). Specifically the global economic race makes that need more vital than ever [National Association of Colleges and Employers, [NACE], 2015; Sanders, 2009). Despite increasing need, research conducted in the US has showed that the number of the students prefers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs has been decreasing dramatically (National Research Council [NRC], 2012). More or less similar situation has been observed in Europe. ’’Concerns about the supply of STEM skills rely on two basic facts: the proportion of students going into STEM is not increasing at the European level and the underrepresentation of women persists.’’ (Encouraging STEM studies Labour Market Situation and Comparison of Practices Targeted at Young People in Different Member States, 2015, p.6). STEM Integrated Education has been occupied the education agenda in many countries and reforms have been made in curriculum in developed and developing countries (Akgündüz, vd., 2015; Bissaker, 2014). ‘’STEM education includes approaches that explore teaching and learning between/among any two or more of the STEM subject areas, and/or between a STEM subject and one or more other school subjects.’’ (Sanders, 2009, p.21) Real world problems and design process are the vital components of STEM integrated education that include at least two of the STEM areas in class (Stohlmann, Moore & Roehrig, 2012). Although reforms have been conducted in the curriculum, one of the most important variables related to the success of those reforms is teacher training (Bissaker, 2014; Cooper, 2013). Research on integrated STEM education has been popular in the last 20 years. However, it has not been fully understood by researchers and teachers (English & King, 2015; Kelley & Knowles,2016). In the National Science Board [NSB] (2007) report, it was stated that teacher should receive a high quality training. To conclude, to have a common integrated STEM education that includes problem and design-based education, teacher training is significant. When there is no pre-service teacher education program special for STEM schools, it creates a question: what are the problems that pre-service teachers graduated from ordinary teacher education programs face with in STEM schools? One of them may be much more use of formative assessment in STEM schools. Additionally, curriculum flexibility may be hard to get used to adapt for teachers (Teo & Ke, 2014). Due to the fact STEM education includes multiple disciplines; Sanders (2009) stated that it is not suitable to train STEM teachers through a conventional teacher education programs. Some new graduate STEM programs in the US ‘’[offer] a new body of knowledge for current and preservice STEM educators, introducing them to the foundations, pedagogies, curriculum, research, and contemporary issues of each of the STEM education disciplines, and to new integrative ideas, approaches, instructional materials, and curriculum.’’ (Sanders, 2009, p. 22). Therefore, different programs offering courses with STEM perspective would be useful. Regarding this point, the elective STEM course that is the focus of this study adopts that perspective. The purpose of the study is to examine the effectiveness of an elective STEM course on pre-service teachers’ subject matter knowledge (SMK) though a 12-week semester.
This study is a mixed method research ‘in which the investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates the findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative approaches or methods in a single study or program of inquiry” (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007, p.4). The participants of the study were eight pre-service chemistry teachers (5 female and 3 male) enrolled to a four-year teacher education program. This study was conducted in an elective course offered for junior (i.e., students who are at the third year of a four-year program) pre-service chemistry teachers. It is a 3-ECTS course for 12 weeks and has 6 STEM activities including design of materials and/or chemical process. In the course syllabus, activities were related to designing a cold-pack, an indicator, apparatus for measuring CO2 level in the aquarium, a process for preventing apple’s browning mechanism, and designing a voltaic cell with highest voltage. In the application of the activities, design approach model including brainstorming, research, design, construction and testing, redesign and evaluation steps (Wheeler, Whitworth, & Gonczi, 2014). The data were collected through a test measuring chemistry content knowledge. It is a two-tier test including 11 multiple choice items in the first step and in the second part the reason of the answer given in the first step. To ensure validity of the test, a table of specification was formed. Also, expert opinions were taken. To investigate pre-service chemistry teachers’ SMK, the data were analysed both through the Wilcoxon t-test (a non-parametric statistical analysis) and qualitative content analysis of written explanation as the reasons of the answer chosen. Due to the fact that the study was conducted in the fall semester of 2017-2018 academic year, we have not fully analysed the second part of the test (i.e., explanation for reasons). Therefore, preliminary analysis of the data will be provided as much as possible. The content analysis will include no answer, false, partially correct, and correct explanation categories. The explanations categorised with those will be presented in terms of changes in participants’ SMK. The data will be analysed by at least two project members to ensure inter-rater reliability.
Due to the fact that our sample is small (n=8), we rank-ordered pre-service teachers’ magnitude of change in their SMK scores. Wilcoxon t-test was used to analyze whether or not there was a significant difference between the pre and posttest scores of the participants. The Wilcoxon t-test showed a statistically significant increase in participants’ SMK scores following taking the course, z=-2,226, p < .026. The median score on SMK test increased from pre-course (Md=2,0) to post-course (Md=4,0).When we looked at the pre and post-tests of the participants briefly, the development in participants’ SMK is seen obviously. The explanations were changed from no answer or from incorrect to partially correct or to correct from pre-test to post-test. It was also interesting that in the pre-test participants had many empty items. In other words, they stated that they do not know in the explanation part. When we controlled the pre- and post-tests regarding empty items, we observed a dramatic decrease in it. Moreover, regarding the items for assessing understanding colligative properties (i.e., related to cold-pack activity), we also observed increase both in the number of correct items and the explanations provided in the post-tests. Finally, two of the participants did not give any answer to two electro-chemistry questions in the pre-test. Then, they answered those items correctly in the post test and provided detailed explanations in the post-test. Other two participants could not answer those two questions in the pre-test, answered one of them correctly in the post-test. There was no change in the answers of the four participants for the electro-chemistry items when we compared pre- and post-test.
Akgündüz, D., Aydeniz, M., Çakmakçı, G., Çavaş, B., Çorlu, M. S., Öner, T. & Özdemir, S. (2015). A report on STEM Education in Turkey: A provisional agenda or a necessity? Istanbul, Turkey: Aydın University. Bissaker, K. (2014). Transforming STEM education in an innovative Australian school: The role of teachers’ and academics’ professional partnership. Theory into Practice, 53, 55-63, DOI.10.1080/00405841.2014.862124. Cooper, M. M. (2013). Chemistry and the Next Generation Science Standarts. Journal of Chemical Education. 90, 679-680. DOI.10.1021/ed400284c. English, L. D., & King, D. T. (2015). STEM learning through engineering design: fourth-grade students’ investigations in aerospace. International Journal of STEM Education, 2(1), 14. Kelley, T.R. & Knowles. J. G. (2016). A conceptual framework for integrated STEM education. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(11), 1-11. DOI: 10.1186/s40594-016-0046-z Kennedy, T., & Odell, M. (2014). Engaging students in STEM education. Science Education International, 25(3), 246–258. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2015). Job Outlook 2016: Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates' Resumes. https://www.goodcall.com/news/nace-job-outlook-2016-what-employers-want-to-see-on-your-resume-03807. National Research Council (NRC). 2012. A framework for K–12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. National Science Board (NSB). (2007). A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System, NSB-07-114; https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsb07114/nsb07114.pdf Sanders, M. (2009). STEM, STEM education, STEMmania. The Technology Teacher, 68(4),20-26. Stohlmann, M., Moore, T., & Roehrig, G. H. (2012). Considerations for teaching integrated STEM education. Journal of Pre-college Engineering Education Research, 2(1), 28-34. DOI. 10.5703/1288284314653. Tashakkori A., & Creswell J. (2007). The new era of mixed methods. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1, 3–7. Teo, T. W., & Ke, K. J. (2014) Challenges in STEM teaching: Implication for preservice and inservice teacher education program. Theory into Practice, 53(1), 18-24. DOI. 10.1080/00405841.2014.862116.
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