The STEM Center maintains several different research projects with the following areas of focus. 1. How does the integration of novel and/or evidence-based teaching strategies into STEM classrooms impact the teaching and learning of STEM content and practices, nature of science, and design thinking? 2. How does the integration of novel and/or evidence-based teaching strategies into STEM classrooms impact students’ noncognitive attributes and dispositions? 3. How can out-of-school time activities be enhanced to positively change participants’ non-cognitive attributes and dispositions related to STEM such as interest, self-efficacy, identity, and motivation? 4. How can STEM activities be optimized to broaden access to STEM, increase diversity in STEM courses and careers, and strengthen community connections?
Current Research Projects
- Digital East St. Louis: An Urban Place-Based Learning Model to Promote Information Technology and Computing Career Interests of Minority Youth In this NSF-funded project we are developing and testing a model for urban place-based learning with the goal of motivating and helping to prepare minority middle-grade students to pursue STEM education and career pathways. As part of the project, we are pursuing five research questions:
- Does participation in the program produce an increase in students’ abilities to express understandings and perceptions of community from various perspectives?
- Does participation in the program produce an increase in student STEM self-efficacy and produce an increase in student competence using specialized technology tools?
- Does participation in the program increase student awareness of the diversity of IT and computing careers?
- Does participation in the program increase students’ experimentation with digital humanities programs?
- Does participation in the program motivate students to make decisions supporting successful entry into STEM education pathways (e.g., to participate in STEM courses or informal learning)?
Collaborators: SIUE IRIS Center, SIUE Dept. of English
- EarthCaching for Pre-Service Teachers: Examining Attitudes and Intentions towards Informal Science Learning The goal of this NSF-funded project is to increase future elementary teachers’ preparation to teach earth science through field-based experiences. Phase I utilizes a design and development approach that will iteratively assess the creation and implementation of nine new EarthCaches. Phase II involves a small efficacy study to examine how the integration of EarthCaching activities into a science course for pre-service teachers impacts the learning of geoscience content as well as attitudes towards and intention to use informal learning experiences both personally and in teaching. Phase II will explore the following research question:
Do pre-service elementary teachers who participate in EarthCaching increase their
- understanding of geoscience concepts
- positive attitudes towards informal learning activities
- positive attitudes toward field-based learning
- intent to personally participate in informal learning experiences
- intent to implement informal learning activities in teaching
Collaborators: SIUE Dept. of Geography, SIUE Dept. of Physics
- Exploring Global Challenges: A STEM+C Curriculum for Minority Girls This NSF-funded project will provide rigorous out-of-school time (OST) experiences that integrate a research-based STEM curriculum and new computational thinking (CT) activities with relevant pedagogy designed to engage minority girls. We are conducting exploratory research that examines the relationship between engaging in integrated CT-STEM activities and the acquisition of CT skills, STEM content knowledge, and a stronger sense of self as a future technologist. We are investigating the following research questions:
- What aspects of the integration of CT and STEM increase the likelihood of girls acquiring CT skills?
- What aspects of the integration of CT and STEM increase the likelihood of girls acquiring STEM content knowledge?
- How does the integration of CT and STEM affect minority girls’ self -perceptions as future
technologists? Collaborators: SIUE East St. Louis Center, SIUE Dept. of Computer Sciences