03 SES 02 A, Curriculum Issues Related to STEM Education
The term STEM originated from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics words. STEM educations aim to educate individuals and society towards an integrated education system that fosters economic and technological development for having a competitive economy (Breiner, Johnson, Harkness, & Koehler, 2012). From an educational perspective STEM education can be defined as the purposeful integration of disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics in resolving real-world problems (Labov, Reid, & Yamamoto, 2010). As Bybee (2013) stated the literature includes many different definitions of STEM. For instance, NSF classified STEM fields broadly and included not only science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but also social sciences like economics, political science, sociology, and psychology (Green, 2007). International studies revealed that students in Turkey have lower scores in science, mathematics and technology fields compared to other countries (Sahin, Ayar, Adiguzel, 2014). Although countries like USA aim to develop students’ science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, and student interest through STEM education since it was introduced in 2009 as a national policy (Ayar, Aydeniz, & Yalvac, 2015), STEM education in Turkey is quite new and has just begun appearing in government policy documents.
Also, although there have been some individual attempts to integrate STEM education into Turkish education in the past, there were not any policy from Ministry of Education until 2016 summer. In 2016 summer, Ministry of Education revealed a STEM education report to integrate STEM into primary and higher education. In addition, the recent science education curriculum that will be implemented in the following year has involved STEM as a subject and as an approach as well. However, there is little emphasis and information in the curriculum about how and what will be used in the STEM implementation. Based on the information above this study aims to investigate schools’ STEM readiness for STEM education integration. Since a nationwide integration of STEM education requires resources including money and personnel, it is important for us to explore if schools are really ready to integrate STEM as a whole including teachers, students, policy and physical environment. Thus, the research questions of investigated here are “How the schools at the capital of our country are ready for STEM integration?” and “What are the opinions of school elements such as teachers, principals and staff about STEM integration and their readiness?”.
This is a mixed method study in the embedded design format. We adopted Creswell and Plano Clark's (2011) embedded design approach in which the major part is a case study supported by some quantitative results. The case study is a multiple case study consists of four different school types located at the capital city of the country. The schools are a charter school, a science focused high school, a public high school, and a vocational school. All schools are at high school level. We used stratified purposeful sampling for the case study in order to focus on readiness level of different schools to STEM integration. According to Yin (2014), embedded multiple group case study designs provide more robust results compared to single case study design by replicating and confirming findings from studied groups. For the case study we used a STEM evaluation framework (Carmen, Phil, & Linda, 2015) developed by New York City Education Center to examine STEM readiness of the schools. This framework that based on the responsibilities of the school has 4 main domains. These domains are "School Vision and Structures for Success", "STEM Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment", "Strategic Partnership" and "STEM College and Career Readiness". There are also some indicators with criteria that describing necessary conditions for maximizing the potential of domains. The readiness of each indicators will be evaluated as "Early", "Emerging", "Integrated" and "Fully Integrated". We prepared an interview protocol to evaluate school readiness based on evidences provided by the participants during the interviews. The interviewees are school principals and at least two teachers from STEM related fields. Constant comparison technique will be used to analyze data to create themes explaining expert opinions. For the quantitative part we decided to use STEM attitude scale developed by Guzel, Harell & Moore in 2014 to evaluate STEM readiness of students in those schools, because as researcher we believed that evaluating STEM readiness of a school without students will not reflect the essence of investigated phenomena. We aimed to collect data from 30 students from each school to be able to compare their attitudes towards STEM readiness. The data collection is planned to be completed at the beginning of the Spring 2018 semester. All review board applications were processed and students will be asked to participate voluntarily and the parent consent forms will be available at the time of data collection.
The expected outcomes for the study can be explained in two folds. First the results will reveal the evidence-based readiness of each school type evaluated through New York City Education Centre framework. The schools' STEM readiness will be categorized as early, emerging, integrated, and fully integrated. And, secondly, we will have themes emerged as expert opinions to explain how the school personnel describes the readiness. Finally, we will be able to investigate how students STEM attitude scores matches with school type and expert opinions. Also, choosing different school types will allow us to see how different each school in terms of their STEM readiness. Since a nationwide implementation of an educational approach is required to bring equal opportunities to students no matter how they are different from each other, our study can reveal the reality in the field as a secondary purpose. To sum up, STEM education has been implemented all around the world with great success and experiences. However, in Turkey, we have little experience and knowledge about it. Since the Ministry of Education decided to implement it to the curriculum, it is quite important for us to know in what degree our schools are ready for STEM integration. Without knowing this wasting money and most importantly time and energy of schools, teachers and students will be unavoidable. In this sense, this study can help us explore our current readiness for STEM education to take required measures to overcome difficulties in the future. This study can be used as a mean by several institutions for both internal and external evaluation purposes. Thus, we would like to present and share our findings with ECER community.
Ayar, M. C., Aydeniz, M., & Yalvac, B. (2015). Analyzing science activities in force and motion concepts: A design of an immersion unit. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 13(1), 95-121. Breiner, J. M., Johnson, C. C., Harkness, S. S., & Koehler, C. M. (2012). What is STEM? A Discussion About Conceptions of STEM in Education and Partnerships. School Science and Mathematics, 112, 3-11. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1949-8594.2011.00109.x Bybee, R. W. 2013. The case for STEM education: Challenges and opportunities. Arlington: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Press. Carmen F., Phil W., Anna C., Linda C. (2015). STEM education framework. New York: The New York City Department of Education. (2015). Retrieved from: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/DE2FC1DE-5FB8-474F-BD27D75FF70EF610/0/STEMframework_WEB1.pdf Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Guzey, S. S., Harwell, M., & Moore, T. (2014). Development of an instrument to assess attitudes toward science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). School Science and Mathematics, 114(6), 271-279. Green, M. (2007). Science and engineering degrees: 1966-2004. (NSF 07-307). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Labov, J. B., Reid, A. H., & Yamamoto, K. R. (2010). Integrated biology and undergraduate science education: a new biology education for the twenty-first century? CBE Life Science Education, 9, 10-16. Sahin, A., Ayar, M. C., & Adiguzel, T. (2014). STEM Related After-School Program Activities and Associated Outcomes on Student Learning. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 14(1), 309-322. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
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