Recent national reports (e.g., Carnegie Corporation 2009; National Research Council 2012a) call for increased attention to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education to better prepare students for the demands of a scientific, technical, creative and critical thinking workforce (Honey, Pearson, & Schweingruber, 2014; Vilorio, 2014). One mechanism to promote quality STEM Education is the development of inclusive STEM schools. The President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (2010) recommended, “The Federal Government should promote the creation of at least 200 new highly-STEM-focused high schools and 800 STEM-focused elementary and middle schools over the next decade, including many serving minority and high-poverty communities” (p. 10) to make STEM accessible to a broader student population in the United States. Most existing STEM schools were opened specifically with this purpose, however, in order for quality STEM to be broadly available to all students it is critical that the process of developing STEM programming within traditional public schools is explored. Thus, this project examined the ways in which STEM programming was developed by teacher leadership STEM teams within three existing public schools to inform future directions for this approach. Teachers have the potential to shape school culture and drive reforms (Lieberman & Freidrich, 2010). Thus, exploring how teacher leadership drives STEM programming is critical to ensuring all students have access to STEM opportunities within public school spaces. Teacher leadership was examined in this study through the conceptual frame of Lieberman and Friedrich’s (2010) four key dimensions that inform teacher leadership development: identity (Berry, Byrd, & Weider, 2013; Day & Gu, 2007), community (Feiman-Nemser, 2001;Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001), productive use of conflict (Martin, Kragler, Quatroche, & Bauserman, 2014; Mezirow 1991; Van Es et al. 2014), and practice (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Putnam & Borko, 2000). These four dimensions were further developed through a comprehensive review of the research literature to create a framework for examining teacher leadership and learning in the STEM teams. This multiple case study research design (Yin, 2014) explored the ways in which teacher leaders, through STEM communities of practice (STEM teams), developed STEM programming across three varied public school contexts. The three cases were the STEM teacher teams within three different school contexts. Data were collected during the 2016-2017 school year as the STEM teacher teams initiated programming that would support their schools becoming STEM schools. Data collection measures included (a) pre/post teacher and administrator interviews, (b) audio recorded team meetings throughout the year, (c) STEM Inventory survey responses evaluating 14 critical components for effective inclusive STEM schools (Behrend et al., 2016), (d) STEM team focus group reflection on survey responses, and (e) researcher field notes. Data were analyzed using qualitative methods through several phases to understand how the teams’ STEM integration efforts mapped onto components of effective STEM schools and how leadership influenced development towards inclusive STEM programming. Six themes emerged from this research that inform recommendations for driving inclusive STEM programs in the future through teacher leadership approaches. The themes were (a) teachers needed leadership skills and STEM understandings to support STEM program development through teacher leadership teams; (b) certain approaches to building STEM curriculum were more productive than others; (c) instructional leadership for driving reform-based practices was important to STEM curriculum work; (d) teachers need school-level systems that support this work to sustain STEM program efforts; (e) misalignments of STEM with other programs need to be accommodated, and (f) authentic STEM came from valuing the culture of the community and was centered on students.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation June. 2018. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisors: Gillian Roehrig, Lesa Covington Clarkson. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 278 pages.
Understanding the Ways in Which Teacher Leadership Teams Influence STEM Integration in Emerging STEM Schools.
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