Monday, June 6, 2016

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)

STEM learning aims to “foster connections among people, settings, and practices” (Penuel, Lee, & Bevan, 2014, p. 2). In fact, fostering diversity in STEM education promotes equity by (a) expanding access to STEM learning opportunities; (b) brokering continuing opportunities for participation in STEM learning opportunities; and (c) helping young people appropriate STEM practices to address issues they feel matter to their personal lives or communities (Penuel, Lee, & Bevan, 2014, p. 1). This includes leveraging minoritized students’ background knowledge or schema from a classroom setting to outside the classroom, or from one context outside of a classroom to another, different context. Therefore, in order to promote equity in STEM, requires attention to providing young people access to powerful settings for learning; supporting them to make connections and take up opportunities across settings, and attending to how access to disciplinary practices is shaped by what goes on in particular learning environments” (Hand, Penuel, & Gutierrez, 2012, p. 255). Penuel and colleagues (2014) synthesized current equitable STEM learning and identified characteristics for effectively supporting access to STEM learning across educational settings (i.e. formal and informal learning environments). Greater equity in K-12 STEM education requires: (a) expanding access for students of color to learning opportunities (e.g. Bevan et al., 2013; National Research Council, 2012), (b) brokering STEM learning across practices (i.e. disciplinary, cultural; see Bell et al., 2013) as well as across informal settings (e.g.: school, home, community; see González, Moll, & Amanti, 2013), and (c) supporting students of color in connecting STEM education content to their own interests, communities, and cultures (e.g. Civil, 2014). Penuel et al. (2014) recommends five design principles to guide the development of equitable STEM education: (a) draw on values and practices from multiple settings to articulate learning goals and identify resources to meet those learning goals; (b) structure partnerships to encompass multiple stakeholder groups as a way of supporting co-design of initiatives focused on promoting learning across settings; (c) engage participants [students of color] in building stories, imaginative worlds, and artifacts that span contexts and that facilitate meaning making across contexts; (d) help youth [students of color] identify with learning enterprise by supporting and naming them as contributors to authentic endeavors; and (e) use intentional brokering to facilitate movement across settings, preparing both educators and parents to be brokers.