Monday, September 5, 2016

Qualitative Procedures

First, data was classified into categories on the Activity System Frameworks, using content analysis and constant-comparative structural coding (e.g., see Saldana, 2013). From the case study analysis protocol (e.g., see Yin, 2014) we looked for patterns of variables and analyzed the likelihood of designated outcomes based on the qualitative variable patterns. Researchers used a concept-matching approach (Kane & Trochim, 2007) to categorize the Activity System elements (rules/policies, community, tools, roles) into membership in common variable sets. Next, researchers analyzed the set-membership across case study sites (n=7) in relation to designated outcomes (in this case, STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities, student achievement growth, both generally and for subgroups of students; and social-emotional supports of students in classrooms, as indicated by the student perception surveys). This “fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis” method (Ragin, 2000; Ragin, 2008) allowed researchers to assess which context and activity system variable combinations improved the likelihood of particular outcomes of interest (e.g.: STEM-foundational thinking). Finally, this, combined with the Activity System qualitative analysis, which looks within and across the “triangle” framework for conflicts among variables allowed researchers to highlight potential levers for systemic change within each of the urban elementary schools and classrooms. All survey responses were coded utilizing the appropriate scale and entered into SPSS for analysis. Reports were generated through SPSS to identify key findings in the quantitative data.


This study examines the relationship between STEM foundational thinking and instructional activities present in the Colorado elementary schools. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed during the fall semester of 2015 through the spring semester of 2016 from seven participating schools and analyzed in order to answer the research question. Participants included teachers, instructional staff and school leaders, who participated in the Effective Learning Teacher Survey (ELTS), and the Effective Learning Leader Survey (ELLS). Extant data examined included the framework for effective teaching (LEAP) data, Student Perception Survey (SPS) results, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) School Performance Framework (SPF), and each school’s Unified Improvement Plans (UIP), relevant trend (qualitative data), and archival structure data (e.g.: school schedules and team and committee workflows). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a principal components analysis (PCA) were utilized to find relationships and patterns among the variables. The purpose of this research was to ascertain what practices are in place for recruiting and engaging students of color in STEM curricula, as well as recommendations for creating a culturally relevant school culture (e.g.: an effective learning organizations). The findings of this study will contribute toward an understanding of how best to integrate STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities into mainstream classroom curricula, so as to provide increased access and opportunity for traditionally underperforming students of color.