REU Site: Engaging Student Teachers in STEM Education Research

Grants and Contracts Details

Description

We will recruit eight highly committed undergraduate students each academic year to become STEM Education research fellows who will function as a cohort within a larger dynamic research community. Successful applicants will have demonstrated aspirations toward careers in elementary, middle, or high school STEM teaching as well as interest in and potential to develop, carry out, and communicate about the scientific study of K-12 STEM education. A main goal of this project is to provide experiences that may increase the interest of those from diverse populations in STEM education research. Towards this end, we will recruit students who are members of underrepresented groups in STEM education research (racial and ethnic minorities, first generation college students, and students with disabilities) via targeted recruitment at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, from specialized programs for targeted student populations, and from other surrounding universities. Intellectual Merit: The under-preparation of the nation’s workforce with respect to STEM knowledge and skills is a very real problem needing remedy. Our project’s ultimate goal is to see an improvement of K-12 students’ STEM knowledge and processes understanding and application. The creation of a larger and better-prepared K-12 STEM teacher population is our main strategy towards meeting our goal. Our REU project will redefine the focus of STEM teacher preparation towards the development of students’ higher order thinking skills and deep conceptual STEM understanding based on research-confirmed best practices discovered by pre-service teachers themselves. Our basic pedagogical approach centers on the active participation of pre-service teachers in authentic inquiry into local educational issues with national and international implications. Our REU project will expose preservice K-12 STEM teachers to timely problems involving STEM teaching and learning through original research conducted with eight successful faculty mentors affiliated with University of Kentucky’s STEM Education Department, situated within the College of Education. Our REU project will foster in pre-service K-12 STEM teachers an appreciation of the interplay between society and education and research, especially concerning the multiple transformative means of fostering STEM literacy across diverse learner populations. Another goal of this project is to provide experiences that may increase the interest of those from diverse populations in STEM education research. Towards this end, we will recruit students who are members of underrepresented groups in STEM education via targeted recruitment at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, from the incoming freshmen class at the University of Kentucky, and from specialized programs for targeted student populations. Broader Impacts: This project will immerse 24 additional undergraduate fellows in the design, execution, analysis, and communication regarding authentic STEM education research. Fellows will continue to contribute to new knowledge by adding to our understanding of pedagogical practices and consequences influencing urban, rural, and suburban K-12 education and their experiences in our project will continue to contribute to new understanding of how research in STEM education can be effectively taught to undergraduate education majors. Our project will offer fellows an opportunity to do research most pertinent to modern K-12 STEM educator practice. Through these activities, they will learn how to consult the research literature for relevant background theory and methods pertaining to STEM education problems, develop technical expertise and meticulous habits of data collection and record-keeping, develop experience with both qualitative and quantitative data analysis, improve writing and presentation skills, and earn valuable experience working on an active and successful team of educator-researchers. If the 24 fellows in the program continue into teaching careers and teach an average of 60 children per year (an average of 25 for elementary and special education, 100 for middle/secondary teachers), then their experiences gained in this program can impact over 7,000 children by the end of the fellows’ fifth year of teaching
StatusActive
Effective start/end date6/1/205/31/23

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $378,159.00

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