03 SES 13, Facilitating Curriculum Implementation
In 1990 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) was underscored as fundamental areas of learning in the 21st century in the world (English, 2016; Aktürk, & Demircan, 2017). Later this set of fields was supplemented by arts as a basis for creativity development and STEM was modified into STEAM (Kim & Park, 2012; Sharapan, 2013; Sochacka, Guyotte, & Walther, 2016). Very soon, it was acknowledged that early childhood education can be enriched by introducing innovations in the above-mentioned fields (Sharapan, 2012; Bagiati & Evangelou, 2015; Hoisington & Winokur, 2015; Torres-Crespo, Kraatz, & Pallansch, 2014). The goal of STEAM-based early childhood education is to prepare children to solve global problems considering new information generated by science and developing innovations (Quigley & Herro, 2016).
Since 2017, one more innovative approach in early childhood education has been observed. Kashin suggests additionally including reading and writing into early childhood education as it significantly boosts accessibility of information to children and contributes to improvement of relations with others, i.e. communication (as cited in Knaus & Roberts, 2017). Thereby, STEAM is modified into STREAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Reading/Writing, Relationships and Math).
STEAM is grounded on the conception of experiential, experimental and problem-based learning and strategies. In STEAM-based early childhood education it is suggested making maximum use of natural environment objects and, simultaneously, establishing spaces for exploration in educational institutions or their environment (Halton & Treveton, 2017) or outside institutions (e.g., JIPPO programme, LUMA Centre, Finland) that are enriched by special research instruments (microscopes, insect traps, pulleys, meters, learning aids for robotics, programming, etc.) (Bers, Seddighin, & Sullivan, 2013). Employing children’s natural ability to observe phenomena, raise questions, to explore, create and make assumptions (Knaus & Roberts, 2017), STEAM activities are integrated in early childhood curriculum (Bagiati, & Evangelou, 2015; Ata-Akturk, Demircan, Senyurt, & Cetin, 2017), STEAM education is even applied in the life 1-3 year old children (Halton, Treveton, & Buchan, 2016).
STEAM activities are developed by extending children’s natural activities, helping children to name their discoveries and to understand processes, challenging children, projecting targeted educational situations and others. The focus is also on integral learning that targets at a specific phenomenon (water, climate, and energy) as well as on learning to programme and robotics. (JIPPO programme, LUMA Centre, Finland).
According to the researchers, accessibility of STEAM to young children is in the hands of teachers. They have to be well aware of the concepts, processes and activities of natural science, technological, engineering and mathematics education themselves to be able to include such education into daily activities of children (Torres-Crespo, Kraatz, & Pallansch, 2014; Knaus, & Roberts, 2017; Halton, & Treveton, 2017).
Therefore, the question arises if teachers are prepared for implementation of STEAM in early childhood education institutions, what practices they apply, what factors promote and hinder implementation of STEAM in early childhood education institutions.
The goal of the research: to reveal practices and factors of implementing STEAM in early childhood education.
The model for the research on pedagogical practices and factors of implementing STEAM, which designed following the analysis of the published works of researchers, is created. The research instrument. Based on this model, a questionnaire for teachers was devised for evaluating: what progressive pedagogical practices are employed in the fields of natural sciences, technological, engineering and mathematics explorations (STEM)? how children’s creativity, their problem solving skills and ability to learn are enhanced? how children’s communicative abilities including reading and writing skills are developed? what encourages teachers to implement innovative STEAM practices and what hiders these processes? Date collections. The sample of the quantitative research included teachers from early childhood education institutions, heads of such institutions, deputy directors for education and other pedagogical specialists and equalled 4123 responds. The survey was conducted via internet and directly. The methods of data analysis. The statistical data processing methods were used for the analysis of the obtained research results: SPSS 22 and MS Excel for Windows. Striving for identification of factors that promote and hinder implementation of progressive pedagogical practices, the factor analysis of teachers’ responses to the problems in question was conducted. The maximum likelihood (ML) method of the common factor model (CFM) was used while performing the exploratory factor analysis (EFA). The promax method for (nonorthogonal) oblique rotation, when the factors are interrelated and correlate, was applied (Brown, 2009; Costello & Osborne, 2005; Finch, 2006). The established Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO = 0.970) shows a good suitability of variables for EFA. The data of total variance explained show that the analysis conducted applying the ML method allowed distinguishing 12 latent factors, the eigenvalues of which exceed 1 and equal 59.972 % of cumulative variance.
The teachers in the research ranked application of innovative practices that are based on exploratory activities of natural sciences in early childhood education institutions higher. However, introduction of exploratory and creative technological, mathematical and engineering practices in institutions received lower evaluation. On the other hand, the teachers pointed out that they frequently apply innovative practices that develop children’s creativity, problem-solving skills and ability to learn. The research revealed a group of factors promoting innovative pedagogical practices, which embrace two aspects: a) educational policy-related, managerial and methodological factors (Municipality policy and projects; Strategical documents regulating education; National projects; Head of institution; Involvement of specialists from other fields; Sets of methodological aids) and b) exchange of innovative ideas among children, parents and teachers (Parents’ innovative suggestions; Ideas brought by children; Personal abilities; Willingness to search, create and implement innovations). These factors positively and statistically significantly correlate with all the innovative activities within STEAM group. The research revealed groups of obstacles hindering implementation of innovative pedagogical practices. They fall under 3 factors: a) Obstacles related to the structure and finances of institution, professional development (Big numbers of children; Few non-contact hours- shortage of time; insufficient financing; No time provided for informal meetings; Out-dated events of professional development; Shortage of sets of methodological materials), b) Obstacles related to teachers’ age, motivation and abilities (Seeing no need to change something; Age factor; Absence of ICT skills; No foreign language skills; Fear of failure, being different; c) Outdated culture of institution, insufficient support from institutional authorities and parents (Outdated culture of institution; Absence of support from authorities; Absence of support from parents). These factors negatively correlate with all the factors of STEAM activities. The correlation is not strong but it is statistically significant.
1.Aktürk, A., A., Demircan, O. (2017). A Review of Studies on STEM and STEAM Education in Early Childhood. ResearchGate. file:///C:/Users/Ona/Downloads/AReviewofStudiesonSTEMandSTEAMEducationinEarlyChildhood.pdf 2.Ata-Akturk, A., Demircan, H. Ö., Senyurt, E., & Cetin, M. (2017). Turkish Early Childhood Education Curriculum from the Perspective of STEM Education: A Document Analysis Journal of Turkish Science Education. 14(4),16-34 3.Bagiati, A., & Evangelou, D. (2015). Engineering Curriculum in the Preschool Classroom: the Teacher's Experience. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(1), 112─128. 4.Bagiati, A., & Evangelou, D. (2015). Engineering Curriculum in the Preschool Classroom: The Teacher's Experience. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(1), 112─128. 5.Bers, M. U., Seddighin, S., & Sullivan, A. (2013). Ready for robotics: Bringing Together the T and E of STEM in Early Childhood Teacher Education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 21(3), 355-377. 6.English, L. D. (2016). STEM Education K-12: Perspectives on Integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(1), 1-8. 7.Halton N., Treveton N., Buchan N. (2016). Exploring Natural Connections with Light, Reflection and Shadow. TEACHING SOLUTIONS. 8.Halton, N., Treveton, N. (2017). Bringing STEM to Life. Understanding and Recognising Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in Play. TEACHING SOLUTIONS. 9.Hoisington, C., & Winokur, J. (2015). Gimme an "E"! “E”: Seven Strategies for Supporting the “E” in Young Children’s STEM Learning. Science and Children, 53(1), 44-51. 10.Kim, Y., & Park, N. (2012). The Effect of STEAM Education on Elementary School Student’s Creativity Improvement. In Computer Applications for Security, Control and System Engineering. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 115-121. 11.Knaus, M., Roberts, P. (2017). STEM in Early Childhood Education. A Research in Practice Series. Early Childhood Australia Inc. 12.Quigley, C. F., & Herro, D. (2016). “Finding the Joy in the Unknown”: Implementation of STEAM Teaching Practices in Middle School Science and Math Classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 1-17. 13.Sharapan, H. (2012). From STEM to STEAM: How Early Childhood Educators Can Apply Fred Rogers' Approach. Young Children, 67(1), 36. 14.Sochacka, N. W., Guyotte, K., & Walther, J. (2016). Learning Together: A Collaborative Autoethnographic Exploration of STEAM (STEM+ the Arts) Education. Journal of Engineering Education, 105(1), 15-42. doi: 10.1002/jee.20112 15.Torres-Crespo, M. N., Kraatz, E., & Pallansch, L. (2014). From Fearing STEM to Playing with It: The Natural Integration of STEM into the Preschool Classroom. SRATE Journal, 23(2), 8-16.
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