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Are We Preparing the Next Generation? K-12 Teacher Knowledge and Engagement in Teaching Core STEM Practices

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research & Evaluation on K-12 Teachers and Teaching.

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.232.1 - 26.232.22



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Paper Authors


Louis Nadelson Utah State University

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Louis S. Nadelson is an associate professor and director for the Center for the School of the Future in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education at Utah State University. He has a BS from Colorado State University, a BA from the Evergreen State College, a MEd from Western Washington University, and a PhD in educational psychology from UNLV. His scholarly interests include all areas of STEM teaching and learning, inservice and preservice teacher professional development, program evaluation, multidisciplinary research, and conceptual change. Nadelson uses his over 20 years of high school and college math, science, computer science, and engineering teaching to frame his research on STEM teaching and learning. Nadelson brings a unique perspective of research, bridging experience with practice and theory to explore a range of interests in STEM teaching and learning.

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Anne Seifert Idaho National Laboratory

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Anne Seifert EdS

INL K-12 STEM Coordinator
Idaho i-STEM Coordinator

Anne Seifert is the Idaho National Laboratory STEM Coordinator and founder and executive director of the i-STEM network. She holds a BS degree in elementary education, an MA in Education Administration and an EDS in Educational Leadership. As a 30 year veteran teacher and administrator she has been involved in school reform, assessment, literacy, student achievement, and school improvement. Her current work involves coordinating partnerships with educators, the Idaho Department of Education, business, and industry to raise STEM Education awareness. Anne’s research interests include STEM education, inquiry and project-based instruction with the incorporation of 21st Century learning, change practices, and cultural influences on school effectiveness.

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J. Kade Hendricks Utah State University

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J. Kade Hendricks is a research assistant at Utah State University where he is also completing a PhD in educational leadership. He has a BS and a MPA from Southern Utah University as well as numerous certifications in administration. He serves as an instructor for Central Christian College of Kansas and advises non-traditional students in their degree completion goals. Kade brings a unique perspective to educational research as his professional background is centered upon at-risk youth and offending adults in the judicial system.

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Are We Preparing the Next Generation? K-12 Teacher Knowledge and Engagement in Teaching Core STEM Practices Several of the recent reform efforts in K-12 STEM education (e.g. Next GenerationScience Standards [NGSS], Common Core State Standards-Mathematics [CCSS-M]) haveincluded significant emphasis on the practices of STEM. We contend that the being able toeffectively engage in these practices is fundamental to the success of engineering students andtheir subsequent careers as engineers. Practices such as identifying problems, modeling usingmathematics, and arguing from evidence are fundamental processes in engineering. Helpingstudents develop their capacity to engage in these practices early in their education will allowthem to be more likely to apply the practices to context that are aligned with the work ofengineers. We contend that engaging in the practices associated with engineering may increasestudent interest and successful pursuit of engineering as a career because they are more likely tofind relevance for what is being taught, understand real world application, helping them todevelop knowledge of the work of engineers. In recognition of the importance of being able to apply the practices of science (NGSS)and the practices of mathematics (CCSS-M) to be successful as an engineer (or a STEMprofessional in general), we made core STEM practices a major emphasis of a week-longintensive professional development program for K-12 educators. During the professionaldevelopment program, the educators were exposed to interactive plenary sessions in whichkeynote speakers walked the participants through the practices, materials detailing the practices,and engaged in the practices in “strands” intensive theme focused 20-25 short courses (themesincluded mining, energy, computer science, robotics, transportation, etc). We developed andadministered an instrument to assess the participants’ knowledge and engagement in teachingcore STEM practices.Our analysis revealed that before the teachers (N = 472) entered the professional developmentthey had very limited knowledge of core practices. When asked to list core practices someresponded with answers such as, “I have no knowledge of this.” and “Give background onrockets, watching videos, building rockets….“. Discuss how and why they flew the farthest,redo and re-fly.” and “Not sure what you mean by "practices."” In contrast, when asked to ratetheir levels of knowledge of the math practices (on a scale of 1 – 10) the average was 5.67 (SD =2.19) and knowledge of science/engineering practices was 2.64 (SD = 2.03 indicating that theteachers rated their knowledge as moderate in math and low in science/engineering, but theycould not articulate the practices when asked to list them.The immediate post-test of the participants (n = 411) revealed increases in self report ratings ofknowledge of the CCSS-M practices (M = 6.50, SD = 1.92) and the NGSS science andengineering practices (M = 4.96, SD = 2.04). However, as with the pre-test these ratings weremisaligned with detailed articulation of the practices. Responses to the item asking theparticipants to list the core STEM practices includes statements such as, “I think there is awritten explanation as to why things work and the steps broken down and explained.” and “Notfamiliar enough” while some did indicate that they had a better understanding of the practicesafter the conference.We will provide greater detail of our PD and the results in our full paper.

Nadelson, L., & Seifert, A., & Hendricks, J. K. (2015, June), Are We Preparing the Next Generation? K-12 Teacher Knowledge and Engagement in Teaching Core STEM Practices Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23571

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