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Successful STEM Education

by Astronuc
Tags: education, stem, successful
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Andy Resnick
#19
Jan6-13, 03:27 PM
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Quote Quote by Woopydalan View Post
At my high school, the only math requirement is finishing algebra I. That is all you need to graduate high school. There are kids that struggled to meet even this requirement, they hate math so much they go out of their way to be bad at it I think.
This dodges the point, I think.

AFAIK (at least for the high school graduations requirements I know), 'algebra I' is not the requirement, the requirement is '3 credits', or '1 year', or something like that. The State of Ohio has a 'common core' which is a list of specific skills (e.g. 'add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators'), but that only covers primary school (K-4). That leaves at least 5 years worth of opportunity to improve STEM instruction without having to involve state-level politics.

The reality that a student can graduate high school without being exposed to appropriate math and science is not a failure of the student; it is a failure of the curriculum.
symbolipoint
#20
Jan6-13, 04:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Andy Resnick View Post
This dodges the point, I think.

AFAIK (at least for the high school graduations requirements I know), 'algebra I' is not the requirement, the requirement is '3 credits', or '1 year', or something like that. The State of Ohio has a 'common core' which is a list of specific skills (e.g. 'add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators'), but that only covers primary school (K-4). That leaves at least 5 years worth of opportunity to improve STEM instruction without having to involve state-level politics.

The reality that a student can graduate high school without being exposed to appropriate math and science is not a failure of the student; it is a failure of the curriculum.
A certain fact in many k-12 school districts IS the requirement of 1 year of Algebra for high school graduation.
Andy Resnick
#21
Jan6-13, 07:26 PM
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Quote Quote by symbolipoint View Post
A certain fact in many k-12 school districts IS the requirement of 1 year of Algebra for high school graduation.
Perhaps... but in Ohio (as of 2014), graduation from high school includes "4 years of math, including Algebra II or its equivalent" and "3 years of lab-based science, including physical science and biology, and one year selected from chemistry, physics or advanced biology, engineering science or biomedical science".

In any case, is this discussion really restricted to a single year of the K-12 math curriculum? I thought we were discussing ways to improve the entire STEM curricula.
Woopydalan
#22
Jan6-13, 09:34 PM
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kids aren't even really shown science in any meaningful way until high school. Middle school for me had a life science class and physical science class...but I felt like not much was actually done.

one memory from 8th grade I have is the professor saying ''NEUTrons are NEUTral'' with emphasis on the NUET. I remember 7th grade life science the teacher saying ''flagella'' and making some weird motion like a tail with his hand and walking up and down.
ParticleGrl
#23
Jan6-13, 09:54 PM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
I would like to explore ideas for the best ways to teach arithmetic, mathematics and science, and particularly physics, in primary, or K-12, education.
Have scientists and mathematicians actually teach the subjects. Right now, the education major who hated science and took the bare minimum is responsible for instructing kids until they get to highschool. Of course, this will require raising teacher pay to actually attract some scientists.

Heck, this might have the added benefit of creating some demand for scientists, which I think will have feedback on student interest. My young cousin was intensely interested in science and used to ask all sorts of questions about what a scientist did,etc. However, after my phd I worked in insurance (so does his father), and now he asks why I'm not still a scientist. My phd friends who has met are ALSO not scientists anymore. The implicit message he will get from my career is studying science is a slow, costly way to get a career in insurance. Having more career paths for science educated folks will increase demand for scientists, and that increased demand makes studying science a smarter thing to do.
Andy Resnick
#24
Jan7-13, 04:18 PM
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Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
Have scientists and mathematicians actually teach the subjects.
<snip>
That makes sense for high school, but not for elementary school where understanding childhood development is at least as important as content knowledge. Middle school is the challenge, I think- students are sort-of mature enough to handle 'real' STEM but still require a teacher that can handle behavior unique to childhood.
Woopydalan
#25
Jan7-13, 04:28 PM
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You don't even need someone to teach middle school math and science with a degree in those fields.

If you just have them take Calculus I/II, and intro physics sequence, and intro chemistry/biology, that is more than sufficient to teach pre-algebra and algebra classes. No upper division science or nothing.

I'm going on a limb here, but is the highest most middle school math teachers have learned themselves is trigonometry, algebra II, what? Are they even scientifically literate?
Andy Resnick
#26
Jan7-13, 05:33 PM
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Turns out, my Governor deserves a lot of credit- he is essentially carrying out an experiment to test this very question. On the Ohio Department of Education site, in addition to graduation requirements and content standards, are sample curricula for all the various K-12 subjects. [Edit: Ohio was granted a waiver from the 'No Child Left Behind' Act last year]

High school math, in particular, has 4 possible curricula- the 'traditional' (Alg I, Geometry, Alg II, year 4), the 'integrated' (Math I, II, III, year 4), and accelerated versions of each. The integrated curriculum follows the IB style, similar to what was posted for Australia. The Science curriculum is less precise, but (thankfully) devoid of any evangelical influence.

This is an experiment because of things called 'charter schools'. Even though school districts have the autonomy to set their own curriculum (as long as it meets State requirements), I could (in theory) open my own 'charter' school "The Andy Resnick School of Awesome" which is independent of the school district, but is able to enroll students and receive State funding (as long as I meet State requirements). For example, in Cleveland, one of the worst school districts in the country, there is the MC2STEM school, Campus International (which I am affiliated with and our SPS chapter is very active in), Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, etc. Each of these schools are free to teach STEM topics any way they choose- and charter schools that generate high-performing students are rewarded, while those that do not are closed.

What is going to happen over the next few years is thus an experiment, where different districts and Charter Schools will implement their own particular versions of STEM curricula and student success will be tracked- results should start appearing by 2017.

The message is that STEM education is, at least in Ohio, currently being examined and then using evidence, we will see if there are indeed better ways to teach STEM. That said, it is true that performance on a standardized test does not correlate well with holistic measures like 'understanding', 'confidence', and so forth. Even so, Ohio is starting something interesting- I wonder if other states are doing anything similar.
ParticleGrl
#27
Jan7-13, 06:38 PM
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Quote Quote by Woopydalan View Post
If you just have them take Calculus I/II, and intro physics sequence, and intro chemistry/biology, that is more than sufficient to teach pre-algebra and algebra classes. No upper division science or nothing.
Its not just about knowledge- its about having some passion for the subject, and an understanding of what doing actual science is like. You want someone willing and capable of going the extra mile.

I had a very good highschool physics teacher who built most of the experimental equipment we used when the school wouldn't buy it, and who had extra lectures on special relativity and the connection between relativity and magnetism at the end of the year (after the AP test but before the end of the school year). Someone without the physics training he had would not have been as effective of a teacher.
Andy Resnick
#28
Jan14-13, 08:26 PM
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Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
Have scientists and mathematicians actually teach the subjects. <snip>
I've been giving this sentence a lot of thought lately, because I used to agree with it.

There is a significant difference between training for K-12 instruction and training for college/university/etc instruction. The difference does not lie within content, but rather with teaching methodology.

No question, requirements for teaching STEM at an advanced level (undergraduate and higher) place most emphasis on the content mastery of the instructor. Students (who at this level are largely self-motivated and are actively invested in the process) gain the most when the instructor provides the maximum content possible, structured as clearly and accurately as possible. At no point in my STEM training did I ever have any formalized instruction in teaching- in this I am like any other scientist. Higher Education can get away with this because the students have already self-selected as people interested in learning STEM. I do not have to be a 'great teacher' because these students can (to some degree) learn on their own.

But this is not the case in K-12. Yes, there are 'magnet' schools and in general students who are highly motivated. But those are a minority of the total student population, and if someone is going to get a job teaching K-12, they need to be able to function not only in an advantageous environment but a suboptimal environment as well. Simply put, the PhD STEM scientist is not prepared for the typical K-12 classroom and will likely recoil from it.

An approach that would improve K-12 STEM education is to hire someone who majored in a STEM field and then received a MS either in Education, STEM Education, or a joint STEM-Education program. This person would be more ideally suited for the K-12 classroom.
Devils
#29
Jan14-13, 09:19 PM
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Quote Quote by Andy Resnick View Post
I've been giving this sentence a lot of thought lately, because I used to agree with it.

There is a significant difference between training for K-12 instruction and training for college/university/etc instruction. The difference does not lie within content, but rather with teaching methodology.
There are many things in teacher education programs that those in higher education dont deal with as often. An issue is contact hours, in high school you need to be on your feet teaching 15-17 hours per week.

- behaviour management - how to deal with unruly/violent students
- classroom management - teachers need think as a manager of their own space
- diversity - students that are disabled, immigrants, limited language skills, hyperactive, etc.
- welfare - students report they are bullied, assaulted by parents
- pedagogy techniques - eg think/pair/share
- extra curricular - you may need to be the basketball coach as well
Andy Resnick
#30
Jan15-13, 07:27 PM
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Quote Quote by Devils View Post
There are many things in teacher education programs that those in higher education dont deal with as often. An issue is contact hours, in high school you need to be on your feet teaching 15-17 hours per week.

- behaviour management - how to deal with unruly/violent students
- classroom management - teachers need think as a manager of their own space
- diversity - students that are disabled, immigrants, limited language skills, hyperactive, etc.
- welfare - students report they are bullied, assaulted by parents
- pedagogy techniques - eg think/pair/share
- extra curricular - you may need to be the basketball coach as well
Exactly!
Dr Transport
#31
Jan15-13, 09:18 PM
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Quote Quote by Devils View Post
There are many things in teacher education programs that those in higher education dont deal with as often. An issue is contact hours, in high school you need to be on your feet teaching 15-17 hours per week.

- behaviour management - how to deal with unruly/violent students
- classroom management - teachers need think as a manager of their own space
- diversity - students that are disabled, immigrants, limited language skills, hyperactive, etc.
- welfare - students report they are bullied, assaulted by parents
- pedagogy techniques - eg think/pair/share
- extra curricular - you may need to be the basketball coach as well
Here is an idea that floated around ~25 years ago, find technically oriented Retired Service Members (Army, etc....) to teach, they have the skills mentioned above and some. They already have an income, teaching would be a great supplement. From my service time, 15-17 hours a week would be nothing, as a former drill instructor and engineering course instructor, I wish I only worked that amount of time, usually, it was ~40 hours as an instructor and ~100 a week as a drill sergeant.
Andy Resnick
#32
Jan16-13, 08:59 AM
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Quote Quote by Dr Transport View Post
Here is an idea that floated around ~25 years ago, find technically oriented Retired Service Members (Army, etc....) to teach, they have the skills mentioned above and some. They already have an income, teaching would be a great supplement. From my service time, 15-17 hours a week would be nothing, as a former drill instructor and engineering course instructor, I wish I only worked that amount of time, usually, it was ~40 hours as an instructor and ~100 a week as a drill sergeant.
In real terms, this doesn't make sense. The teacher needs to be available to work full time, not part time. Also, why set up school districts to have to replace these people every few years instead of providing them with qualified people who can grow over time and hold the job for decades?

There is a market for part-time instructors, but as a long-term solution it's more important to train better teachers, not fill the expertise gaps with patchwork.
Astronuc
#33
Jan16-13, 09:31 AM
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Quote Quote by Devils View Post
There are many things in teacher education programs that those in higher education dont deal with as often. An issue is contact hours, in high school you need to be on your feet teaching 15-17 hours per week.

- behaviour management - how to deal with unruly/violent students
- classroom management - teachers need think as a manager of their own space
- diversity - students that are disabled, immigrants, limited language skills, hyperactive, etc.
- welfare - students report they are bullied, assaulted by parents
- pedagogy techniques - eg think/pair/share
- extra curricular - you may need to be the basketball coach as well
I'm not sure 15-17 hours covers it. My wife is a TA at a local elementary school, and she works about 30 hrs per week. The teachers work about 40+ including lesson plans and classroom prep, grading homework after classroom hrs and during evenings, and meeting with parents.

Maybe some high school teachers teach 3 classes?

Classroom management (with behavior management, diversity, welfare) is a critical factor, as well as complicated. The staff sometimes have to deal with disruptive and occasionally violent students, and those dealing the difficult situations at home that adversely affect their ability to learn.

Rather than address those important issues, I'd like to focus on STEM, a feasible/optimal curriculum, and pedagogy techniques.
Devils
#34
Jan16-13, 08:06 PM
P: 164
Quote Quote by Astronuc View Post
I'm not sure 15-17 hours covers it. My wife is a TA at a local elementary school, and she works about 30 hrs per week.
I meant 15-17 hours standing in front of a class giving lessons. There is other time preparing, marking, sport, personal development (for students & teachers), interviews, etc as you say.

One thing people should be aware of in is the extensive health, welfare, employment services that are provided by universities.Many universities have extensive free health facilities (doctors, psychologists, career counselors, on-campus pharmacy & pathology) as well as arrange employer visits. This is generally far more services than you find in schools or the workforce.
---------------

Some teacher education programs do teach STEM.

http://www.qut.edu.au/?a=16559&resid...&fromajax=true
http://www.qut.edu.au/?a=16559&resid...&fromajax=true


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