By 2018, STEM occupations are projected to grow twice as fast as all other occupations combined (Olson & Riordan, 2012; Craig Thomas, Hou, & Mathur, 2012). The need to educate and produce more STEM graduates is eminent, and research shows that the pipeline to prepare students for STEM fields begins in elementary school. Research also shows that many elementary teachers lack the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and confidence to teach STEM subjects (Dorph, Shields, Tiffany-Morales, Hartry, & McCaffrey, 2011). Meanwhile, opportunities for elementary teachers to develop their STEM PCK and confidence in teacher preparation programs or professional development are limited.
To address this problem, programs like Raising the Bar for STEM Education in California are emerging. A yearlong case study utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods was employed to examine the program’s effectiveness in preparing future elementary teachers to effectively teach STEM subjects through a STEM-rich, clinical, co-teaching model of student teaching. Data collection methods included qualitative interviews, observations through videotaped lessons, documents, and quantitative pre- and post-surveys. The key findings from this study include that the STEM-rich, clinical, co-teaching model of student teaching was successful in increasing pre-service teachers’ confidence and expanding their pedagogical knowledge of teaching inquiry-based lessons. Pre-service teachers were willing and excited to teach STEM subjects in their future elementary classrooms at the conclusion of the program. However, the growth in content knowledge and confidence was uneven among the four STEM content areas and there was a lack of integration. \
Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that future STEM professional development programs emphasize the vital importance of STEM fields as the rationale for teaching STEM subjects; build pedagogical content knowledge; integrate STEM subjects through a focus on engineering; explicitly link STEM to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards; design the STEM professional development around the characteristics of Adult Learning Theory; and foster reflective, collaborative communities of practice. Further recommendations for policy and research are presented and discussed.
|Commitee:||Haviland, Don, Nakai, Karen|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Elementary education, Pre-service teachers, Professional development, STEM education, Student teachers|
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