This study investigated STEM-foundational thinking and structures in place for teacher practices in relation to STEM instructional activities. Some overarching findings for the participating schools in this study indicate a relationship between isolated STEM-foundational thinking teacher practices. For example, researchers found that in participating schools, there were no statistically significant teacher perceptions of STEM-foundational thinking, and these did not align with administrator perceptions of STEM-foundational thinking. Participating schools do not indicate that they explicitly participate in STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities. Professional. Researchers also discovered that student perceptions of teachers facilitating STEM-foundational thinking aligned with teacher perceptions about the lack of STEM instructional practices. Researchers also ascertained the evidence of relationships and patterns between teacher survey responses (STEM-related sub-scales), student perceptions about their teachers’ abilities to facilitate STEM-foundational thinking also aligned with a school’s performance level. Generally speaking, in lower performing schools, teacher and student perceptions were lower than teacher and student perceptions in higher performing schools. Finally, researchers were also able to uncover evidence of relationships among the variables in responses on the ELLS and the ELTS (see Table 8).
In terms of my original research question: What elementary school structures support students in STEM curricular areas? and based on the quantitative data analysis, there are pockets of STEM-foundational thinking present throughout the seven surveyed elementary schools. There does not seem to a pattern among schools with regards to STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities, especially with respect to how STEM supports may or may not differ for sub-groups of students. However, as no individual school cases are meant to be generalized, I focused my efforts on exploring several sources of data. For example, when one examines the qualitative data (i.e.: curriculum documents, school improvement plans, and mission and vision statements), what stands out is the lack of a deliberate focus on STEM-foundational thinking. No school surveyed has a full agenda for how to implement or integrate STEM-foundational thinking into their curricula. No school (as indicated by the STEM survey clusters) has an entire cluster correlated to STEM-foundational thinking. Nonetheless, one school, Richard Spikes Elementary, does stand out slightly from the other schools. There appears to be a school-wide effort on student reflection in all content areas. This give students multiple opportunities throughout their school day to reflect on their thinking and academic work, a characteristic found in STEM-foundational thinking and STEM instructional activities. In terms of specific components of elementary STEM opportunities to learn that foster interest, participation, and academic success in STEM content areas, especially for marginalized students of color, I believe that consistency in pedagogical practices is important for integration of any educational philosophy. When a building embeds a certain value in multiple aspects of their organization (e.g.: mission and vision statement, professional development, curriculum guides), then that value becomes more widely adopted by staff, students, and the parent community.