Leveraging Regional Strengths for STEM Teacher Professional Development: Results from an NSF RET Program Focused on Advanced Manufacturing and Materials
Due to the shortage in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce, it is imperative to inspire K12 students to pursue STEM disciplines. Materials and advanced manufacturing (M&AM), an important industry for the U.S. economy, requires a STEM knowledgeable workforce. To address the shortage while increasing awareness of M&AM, 3 Ohio universities collaboratively designed a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Teachers (NSF-RET) project. Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, and Birman's (2002) theory of effective professional development and Bandura's (1977) theory of social learning guided the design to provide 36 K12 teachers with knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy to engage their students in M&AM activities. A convenience sample comprised 36 in-service teachers and 6 pre-service teachers. The convergent parallel mixed methods project analyses documented that in-service teachers' attitudes towards teaching STEM improved (z = 3.17, p < 0.0002, r = .49), along with their expected student outcomes (z = 2.77, p < 0.006, r = .49) and their adoption of investigative cultures in their classrooms (z = 2.34, p < 0.02, r = .48). The qualitative analyses documented their increased awareness of M&AM. The findings have 3 implications: (a) participants' increased STEM awareness and skills related to M&AM empowered them to potentially increase students' interest in STEM and M&AM; (b) participants' increased awareness of regional M&AM industries and higher education M&AM research contributed to their ability to share real world M&AM examples in the STEM classroom; and (c) participants' changed teaching practices potentially contribute to preparing more students for STEM careers.
Franco, M. S.,
& Srinivasan, R.
(2018). Leveraging Regional Strengths for STEM Teacher Professional Development: Results from an NSF RET Program Focused on Advanced Manufacturing and Materials. Research in Schools, 25 (1), 20-34.