When the preparation of the next generation of STEM teachers is discussed in education circles, few think of teachers earning an engineering degree as a pathway to entering the teaching profession. Teachers prepared with an engineering degree are well equipped to help young learners “connect the STEM dots” through design, problem solving, experimentation, making, and understanding the balance between the designed and natural world in which they live. STEM learning is often abstract and STEM subjects are too often taught in isolation without reference and meaningful connections. This NSF-IUSE project broadens the STEM learning landscape by emphasizing integrated STEM (iSTEM) teacher preparation that includes integrated design (iDesign) across STEM subjects by not only preparing a new type of engineering trained teachers, but redesigning the traditional STEM teacher preparation model to include cross STEM discipline teacher preparation that emphasizes content border crossings and prepares teachers to work in cross functional diversity teams in schools. The project integrates new design projects in the engineering curricula for pre-service STEM teachers and a new cross-discipline STEM methods course that will serve as a model for other institutions to adopt.
Results from a summer workshop are presented that develop a wide range of approaches for new engineering pathways for pre-service teacher preparation. Participating schools were chosen to represent diverse regions of the U.S. This paper discusses:
• What structures and collaboration are possible and what would the interaction between engineering and education departments look like?
• What incentives might need to be in place to make this engineering-education collaboration work effectively?
• How might it be implemented across different institutions of higher education?
Preparing teachers through an engineering degree pathway and cross‐training STEM teachers opens a whole new perspective to STEM teaching, learning, and research. Research conducted in this project is designed to unpack and measure two new inventive frontiers in STEM learning; 1) STEM associational fluency and 2) teaching and learning in cross-functional STEM diversity teams. STEM associational fluency in teachers is the teacher’s ability to fluidly and deeply apply STEM content and contexts while designing and delivering instruction. Scales designed and tested include the expansion and refinement of an iSTEM scale to measure STEM associational fluency in teachers. Teaching and learning in cross-functional design teams incorporates teams of STEM teachers from the varied STEM disciplines learning to blueprint (make explicit) disciplinary grounded content, co‐plan, and design integrated design (iDesign) interventions that require students to apply cross cutting STEM content, concepts, and practices within a design or problem-‐based learning context. A new iDesign scale to measure and assess teacher’s cross-functional iDesign interventions was designed and tested.
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