International Journal of STEM Education

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 2196-7822 / 2196-7822
Total articles ≅ 288
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Lu Shi,
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-20; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00303-1

Background Investigations into drivers and barriers to the uptake of learner-centered instructional practices in STEM courses have identified the climate within a department as a potential influential factor. However, few studies have explored the relationship between adoption of learner-centered instructional practices and departmental climate around teaching. Moreover, surveys that have been designed to measure climate around teaching have been focused on measuring individual faculty member’s description of their colleagues’ perceptions of the climate within their department (psychological collective climate) and ignored whether there was a consensus among respondents within the same department on these descriptions. This latter measure (departmental collective climate) is best aligned with the definition of organizational climate. There is thus a need to explore whether departmental climate measured at the individual or collective level relate to the use of learner-centered instructional practices. Results This study demonstrates that the Departmental Climate around Teaching (DCaT) survey provides valid and reliable data that can be used to measure psychological collective climate within a STEM department. Analysis of the 166 faculty members who responded to the survey indicated that (1) four different types of psychological collective climate existed among our population and (2) multiple types could be present within the same STEM department. Moreover, it showed that measuring departmental collective climate is challenging as few constructs measured by the DCaT survey reached high level of consensus within faculty members from the same department. Finally, the analysis found no relationship between psychological collective climate and the level of use of learner-centered instructional practices. Conclusions Results from the validation studies conducted on the DCaT survey that most elements that define a climate (e.g., policies, practices, expectations) are lacking when it comes to teaching. These findings could explain the challenges experienced in this study in measuring departmental collective climate. Without these climate elements, faculty members are left to work autonomously with little expectations for growth in their instructional practices. Establishing policies, practices, and expectations with respect to teaching is thus an essential step toward instructional change at a departmental level.
Meredith A. Henry, Shayla Shorter, Louise K. Charkoudian, Jennifer M. Heemstra, Benjamin Le,
Published: 6 July 2021
by 10.1186
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-28; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00300-4

Background The ability to navigate obstacles and embrace iteration following failure is a hallmark of a scientific disposition and is hypothesized to increase students’ persistence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, this ability is often not explicitly explored or addressed by STEM instructors. Recent collective interest brought together STEM instructors, psychologists, and education researchers through the National Science Foundation (NSF) research collaborative Factors affecting Learning, Attitudes, and Mindsets in Education network (FLAMEnet) to investigate intrapersonal elements (e.g., individual differences, affect, motivation) that may influence students’ STEM persistence. One such element is fear of failure (FF), a complex interplay of emotion and cognition occurring when a student believes they may not be able to meet the needs of an achievement context. A validated measure for assessing FF, the Performance Failure Appraisal Inventory (PFAI) exists in the psychological literature. However, this measure was validated in community, athletic, and general undergraduate samples, which may not accurately reflect the motivations, experiences, and diversity of undergraduate STEM students. Given the potential role of FF in STEM student persistence and motivation, we felt it important to determine if this measure accurately assessed FF for STEM undergraduates, and if not, how we could improve upon or adapt it for this purpose. Results Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and cognitive interviews, we re-validated the PFAI with a sample of undergraduates enrolled in STEM courses, primarily introductory biology and chemistry. Results indicate that a modified 15-item four-factor structure is more appropriate for assessing levels of FF in STEM students, particularly among those from groups underrepresented in STEM. Conclusions In addition to presenting an alternate factor structure, our data suggest that using the original form of the PFAI measure may significantly misrepresent levels of FF in the STEM context. This paper details our collaborative validation process and discusses implications of the results for choosing, using, and interpreting psychological assessment tools within STEM undergraduate populations.
, Hasan Deniz, Erdogan Kaya
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-15; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00299-8

Background The Next Generation Science Standards (2013) put a special emphasis on engineering for K-12 science education. However, a significant number of elementary teachers still feel unprepared to integrate engineering into their science programs. It is, therefore, incumbent upon science educators to update their elementary science methods courses to accommodate engineering especially in the states which adopted the NGSS. In this study, we taught an engineering unit in an elementary science teaching methods course to examine what instructional components and learning experiences provided in the engineering unit enhance teachers’ engineering teaching self-efficacy beliefs. Our research questions addressed to what extent the engineering education intervention improved pre-service teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs and what instructional components and learning experiences served as sources of self-efficacy contributing to the improvement of pre-service elementary teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs. We also explored how pre-service teachers viewed the relative importance of the sources of teaching efficacy stemming from the engineering unit. Results The participants comprised 84 pre-service teachers enrolled in an elementary education program at a public university in the Southwestern United States. Data obtained from the Engineering Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument (ETEBI) indicated that the pre-service teachers’ personal teaching efficacy beliefs significantly improved after the engineering intervention; however, the engineering intervention had a small impact on teachers’ engineering teaching outcome expectancy beliefs. Written reflections used to explore the sources of engineering teaching efficacy and the relative importance of each source showed that cognitive content mastery and cognitive pedagogical mastery were the major sources of engineering teaching self-efficacy among the pre-service elementary teachers. Conclusion Our study illustrated that integrating engineering design activities with explicit-reflective instruction on the nature of engineering concepts could enhance pre-service teachers’ personal engineering teaching efficacy beliefs even though a relatively small impact was observed in their engineering teaching outcome expectancy beliefs. Also, the study indicated cognitive content mastery and cognitive pedagogical mastery were the most important sources of engineering teaching efficacy. Therefore, the study suggests that it is vital to integrate a variety of mastery and vicarious experiences in methods courses to support the development of teachers’ engineering teaching efficacy beliefs. Besides, the current study could provide an example for integrating engineering education in methods courses.
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-21; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00296-x

Background Emerging methodologies that apply and integrate science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) in education have appeared in recent years as a pedagogical alternative providing more holistic and attractive education. Method The research methodology used in this work is of a bibliometric nature. Specifically, an academic performance analysis and a co-word analysis has been carried out. The term STEAM was analyzed in the Web of Science (WoS) database. The WoS programs Analyze Results, Creation Citation Report, and SciMAT were used. A total of 1116 manuscripts were analyzed. Results The results show that studies in the field education of STEAM began in 2006 and have continued uninterruptedly up to the present day, although interest generated in the scientific community has been irregular. Conclusions It can be concluded that STEAM studies have not had an established and robust line of research over time, although it can be observed that the trends in this aspect are focused on the scientific branch of education. In addition, the topics of study on STEAM include points related to gender differences, the influence of STEAM on people of different races, the skills developed by students, and training teachers to implement teaching and learning processes with STEAM.
, Aileen Huang-Saad
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-15; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00298-9

Background Recent research has demonstrated the importance of entrepreneurship education programs (EEPs) in the professional development of engineering students. Numerous universities have adopted various forms of EEPs which are typically offered as elective programs. To create suitable programs that will encourage students to seek out EEPs, it is critical to understand the factors that influence student participation in EEPs. Using qualitative research methods, we examined the question “What influences engineering students’ participation in entrepreneurship education programs?” The purpose of our work is to identify and understand the factors impacting engineering student participation in EEPs. Results Analysis of 20 semi-structured interviews of undergraduate engineering students was conducted using the first and second cycle coding methods to determine key factors that inform students’ participation in EEPs. We found that student decisions to participate in EEPs are influenced by several factors: entrepreneurial self-efficacy, entrepreneurial intent, attitude, subjective norm, goals, academic transitions, information and resources, social capital, opportunities and challenges, and past participation in EEPs. Conclusions Findings demonstrate that students’ non-compulsory participation is not a result of a single act, but is regulated by multiple factors. Explication of these factors using our qualitative results provides actionable guidance for EEPs to encourage engineering students’ participation and offers directions for future research.
Amy Cassata, Elaine Allensworth
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-21; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00297-w

Background The Common Core Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards were adopted by states with the goal of preparing students with knowledge and skills needed for college, careers, and citizenry. Adopting these standards necessitated considerable changes in instructional practice. While teacher leadership is known to be important for instructional change, there is little research that articulates the processes through which that influence occurs, and how contextual factors constrain or support those processes. This paper provides a case study of efforts in the Chicago Public Schools to promote widespread instructional change around standards reform through a teacher leader model using retrospective from 2013 to 2017 interviews with 16 math and science teacher leaders serving grades 6–12, along with quantitative analysis of district-wide data showing patterns of change and professional learning. It builds off prior research to articulate a framework of how teacher leaders promote instructional change. Findings There were five patterns of teacher leader action: inspiring others, sharing with colleagues, working in collaboration, advocating for change, and providing individual support, and an interplay between teacher actions and school-level contextual factors, with some contextual factors more important than others for different types of actions. In particular, sharing and collaborative work were facilitated in schools with designated collaboration time, trusting relationships, and colleagues who were also trained and knowledgeable about the new standards. The degree of collective efficacy the teacher leaders felt seemed to be driven mostly by the presence of other knowledgeable change agents in the school. Conclusions and implications The study adds to the existing literature on teacher leadership by articulating the mechanisms through which teachers exert influence around instructional improvement of their school peers and providing examples of each. Further, the study illustrates how these mechanisms are facilitated or constrained by the larger school context. Together, the articulation of mechanisms and contexts, along with illustrative examples, provides a guide for supporting instructional change through teacher leadership in schools and districts.
Christa Jackson, Margaret J. Mohr-Schroeder, Sarah B. Bush, Cathrine Maiorca, Thomas Roberts, Caitlyn Yost, Abigail Fowler
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-16; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00294-z

We introduce a conceptual framework of K-12 STEM literacy that rightfully and intentionally positions each and every student, particularly minoritized groups, as belonging in STEM. In order to conceptualize the equity-based framework of STEM literacy, we conducted a systematic review of literature related to STEM literacy, which includes empirical studies that contribute to STEM literacy. The literature on the siloed literacies within STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy) also contributed to formulate the necessity of and what it means to develop STEM literacy. The Equity-Oriented STEM Literacy Framework illuminates the complexities of disrupting the status quo and rightfully transforming integrated STEM education in ways that provide equitable opportunities and access to all learners. The Equity-Oriented STEM Literacy Framework is a research-based, equity and access-focused framework that will guide research, inform practice, and provide a lens for the field that will ensure each and every student, especially minoritized students, develop, and are developing STEM literacy.
Daniel L. Reinholz, Isabel White,
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-22; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00291-2

This article systematically reviews how change theory has been used in STEM higher educational change between 1995 and 2019. Researchers are increasingly turning to theory to inform the design, implementation, and investigation of educational improvement efforts. Yet, efforts are often siloed by discipline and relevant change theory comes from diverse fields outside of STEM. Thus, there is a need to bring together work across disciplines to investigate which change theories are used and how they inform change efforts. This review is based on 97 peer-reviewed articles. We provide an overview of change theories used in the sample and describe how theory informed the rationale and assumptions of projects, conceptualizations of context, indicators used to determine if goals were met, and intervention design. This review points toward three main findings. Change research in STEM higher education almost always draws on theory about individual change, rather than theory that also attends to the system in which change takes place. Additionally, research in this domain often draws on theory in a superficial fashion, instead of using theory as a lens or guide to directly inform interventions, research questions, measurement and evaluation, data analysis, and data interpretation. Lastly, change researchers are not often drawing on, nor building upon, theories used in other studies. This review identified 40 distinct change theories in 97 papers. This lack of theoretical coherence in a relatively limited domain substantially limits our ability to build collective knowledge about how to achieve change. These findings call for more synthetic theoretical work; greater focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion; and more formal opportunities for scholars to learn about change and change theory.
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-13; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00295-y

Background Nurturing students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers is a major goal of STEM education. Although the relationship between students’ stereotypical beliefs regarding STEM careers and their career interest can be reasonably hypothesized, research investigating the extent to which and how students’ STEM career interest is directly or indirectly influenced by their stereotypical beliefs is lacking. This study investigated how upper primary students’ stereotypical beliefs regarding STEM careers predicted their STEM self-efficacy and STEM career-related outcome expectations and how these constructs predicted their STEM career interest. Structural equation modelling was used to analyse quantitative survey data of 824 fourth- to sixth-grade students and test the hypothesized models. Results Students’ stereotypical beliefs regarding STEM careers negatively predicted their self-efficacy in STEM activities and career-related outcome expectations. Additionally, the students’ self-efficacy in STEM activities and career-related outcome expectations in turn predicted their STEM career interest. Conclusions These results explain the potential indirect effect of STEM stereotypes on students’ career interest through self-efficacy and outcome expectations. The findings highlight the significant role of STEM stereotypes, self-efficacy in STEM activities, and career-related outcome expectations in students’ career development. The implications of this study for STEM education are also discussed.
Jonathan D. Stolk, Michael D. Gross, Yevgeniya V. Zastavker
International Journal of STEM Education, Volume 8, pp 1-19; doi:10.1186/s40594-021-00283-2

Background Research illustrates that student motivations influence learning engagement, persistence, and achievement in powerful ways and that positive motivations are linked to deeper learning, critical thinking, pro-social behavior, and better performance. Most studies of learner motivation, however, are conducted outside of STEM and are focused at the contextual level, which may describe why students attend college or choose a degree program, but not why they engage in classroom activities. Furthermore, there is little research that meaningfully connects learner motivations with gender identity and course pedagogy. This study addresses these gaps by examining the interconnections among course pedagogy, gender, and situational-level motivations, which reveal why learners engage in different course activities and how engagement may vary over time. This detailed perspective on learner motivations is essential for instructors to gain insights into how their pedagogical and course design choices influence students’ motivational responses and to more effectively develop interventions that support positive forms of motivation among all students. Results Participants in the study are undergraduate students enrolled in 72 introductory-level STEM courses across 11 institutions, and the dataset includes over 5000 unique responses to the Situational Motivation Scale, a Self-Determination Theory-based instrument that was administered weekly in each course. Analysis reveals seven typical motivational response types, ranging from a highly control-oriented to a highly autonomous response. Most students express multiple types of motivation during an academic term in a course, illustrating the dynamic nature of motivations. Cluster distributions by gender and pedagogy indicate significant differences in lecture-based learning courses, with women reporting less self-determined motivations compared to men. Motivational response profiles of women and men are both more similar, and more positive overall, in courses that employ active learning. Conclusions These findings have important implications for practitioners. The concept of motivational co-expression encourages instructors to move toward a more nuanced appraisal of learner motivation. The stability analyses challenge embedded beliefs about the fixed nature of learner motivation. The gender analyses raise questions about how instructors may more effectively promote the positive motivations of all students through their course design decisions.
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