REU Site: STEM CATS: Creating Academic Teacher Scholars in STEM Education

Grants and Contracts Details


STEM is no longer simply an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics but also a unification of the disciplines that, as an entity, is much greater than the sum of its parts. The field of STEM education research is ripe with potential for exploration of issues across these disciplines in high synergy with one another in terms of the importance of student learning and citizen participation and the and barriers towards these things now of such great concern to many as the U.S. continues to fall in its international economic competitiveness (Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy 2006). Kentucky ranks as one of the lowest performers in the nation in terms of STEM competitiveness (Kentucky STEM Task Force 2007). The under-preparation of the nation's workforce with respect to STEM knowledge and skills is a very real problem to remedy, especially when one considers the performance of U.S. school children across the STEM disciplines when compared to their international peers. The 2006 PISA, which examined 15-year-olds from 57 countries, demonstrated average performance of U.S. students in terms of scientific concept recall (level 1) but significantly below average performance regarding understanding and application of scientific and mathematical concepts (levels 2 and 3). In contrast, Canada ranked in the top 5 in all three categories (OECD, 2007). The 2012 PISA results show a similarly bleak picture. Students in the U.S. performed below average in mathematics in 2012, ranking 27th out of 34 countries participating in PISA. U.S. students performed near average in both science and reading, ranking 17th in reading and 20th in science. There has not been a significant change in U.S. students' PISA performances over time (OECD, 2012). Equally depressing are postsecondary students' performance regarding science and mathematics understanding and application (Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy, 2006; US Department of Education, 2006; US Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2006). Kentucky ranked 49th in the nation in 2003 for bachelor's degrees in science or engineering conferred (Kentucky STEM Task Force 2007). Our project's ultimate goal is an improvement of K-12 students' levels of STEM knowledge and processes understanding and application, especially for students from historically disadvantaged groups who enter universities with an especially negative stance towards STEM and their ability to participate in STEM (Clewell, Anderson, & Thorpe 1992, Gatta & Trigg 2001). The creation of a larger and better-prepared K-12 STEM educator population is our main strategy towards meeting our goal.
Effective start/end date6/1/165/31/22


  • National Science Foundation


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