Monday, June 13, 2016

Design Principles to Guide the Development of Equitable STEM Education

 Draw on values and practices from multiple settings. Instead of focusing research on obtaining specific goals for a single learning environment, STEM-education research should “require a more diverse set of perspectives for articulating learning goals, identify potential challenges to meeting those goals, and identify and leveraging resources that can overcome those challenges” (Penuel & Fishman, 2012, p. 6). It is not fruitful to assume that structures for STEM-foundational thinking in one learning environment will easily transfer to another school. One must take into considerations the differences in the organization of practices and values before importing new practices to another setting.

Co-design in initiatives focused on promoting learning across settings. This requires the perspectives and voices of multiple stakeholders. Any initiative, including STEM education, should be a collaborative effort that strives to create lasting partnerships for all members involved. In structuring these partnerships, “it is important not only to consider what stakeholder groups need to be involved, but also the history of communities and the relations among different stakeholder groups” (Penuel & Fishman, 2012, p. 8). Without taking these into account, any change initiative will not be sustainable.

Engage participants in building artifacts that facilitate meaning across contexts. STEM-foundational thinking and access to that learning requires strategies that learning across educational settings, and into the real world. Penuel et al. (2014) discusses the use of “Transmedia storytelling” to engage learners in “creating a single story or story experience across different media” (p. 8). Students are active members of creating these stories that then translate to lessons in questioning, observations, and constructing claims, evidence, and reasoning for real-world scenarios.

 Help youth identify with the learning enterprise. Penuel et al. (2014) discuss the importance of identifying and integrating students’ cultural practices into deep learning experiences. This is how students co-create their STEM identities that do not conflict with their cultural identities. A STEM identity “develops as people transform their participation in culturally valued activities and come to imagine new possible futures for themselves and others” (Penuel & Fishman, 2012, p. 9). Students need multiple opportunities to develop their STEM identities while solving authentic problems.

Use intentional brokering to facilitate movement across settings. STEM-foundational thinking does not solely live in the classroom. Students take themes and content knowledge from STEM instructional activities and use them in other settings, mainly outside of the classroom. This type of brokering “facilitates a form of learning that comes about form expanding personal networks” (Penuel & Fishman, 2012, p. 11). Students can then become active members of their communities because they have developed social networks of others who have knowledge, skills, or resources needed to solve authentic problems.

Research literature on systemic change states that any lasting initiative is more likely to occur and be successful through an emphasis on multiple co-designed capacities because “the focus is on developing and testing innovations that can improve the quality and equity of supports for implementation of [STEM] reforms” (Penuel & Fishman, 2012, p. 282). Unfortunately, there is a lack of STEM self-identity for students of color at the elementary level.