Current Research

Current Research

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

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

  1. Understanding of geoscience concepts
  2. Positive attitudes towards informal learning activities
  3. Positive attitudes toward field-based learning
  4. Intent to personally participate in informal learning experiences
  5. 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:

  1. What aspects of the integration of CT and STEM increase the likelihood of girls acquiring CT skills?
  2. What aspects of the integration of CT and STEM increase the likelihood of girls acquiring STEM content knowledge?
  3. 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

Examining Faculty Attitudes and Strategies that Support Successful Flipped Teaching

In this NSF-funded project, a team of experienced STEM educators & researchers are designing, developing, and studying the implementation of flipped teaching by faculty in their STEM classrooms at two institutions: here at SIUE and at St. Louis Community College. Flipped teaching is an instructional practice where traditional teaching is reversed, with instruction occurring outside of class time, allowing classroom time to be focused on the application of content. By employing mixed methods, including in-depth interviewing of faculty participants, a rich dataset will be gathered and analyzed, advancing the understanding of the aspects of successful flipped teaching implementation, as well as the barriers to engaging STEM faculty in the adoption of this teaching strategy. This project will also produce a set of design principles for flipped teaching and propose a flipped teaching model applicable to these two common yet different types of higher education institutions. Also, the successful implementation of flipped teaching by 24 faculty members over the three years of the project is expected to improve retention and success in STEM, including retention of students who are from historically underrepresented groups. This program is headed by Dr. Chaya Gopalan of the Department of Applied Health in collaboration with the SIUE STEM Center and the Office of the Provost.

The project has three overarching research questions:

  1. How do faculty perceive and implement flipped teaching?
  2. How does faculty implementation of flipped teaching at a four-year master’s university compare with faculty implementation at a two-year community college?
  3. What are the essential design principles for implementing a successful flipped classroom at each type of institution?