Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 825–832 | Cite as

Innovations and Challenges in Project-Based STEM Education: Lessons from ITEST

  • Alice Connors-Kellgren
  • Caroline E. Parker
  • David L. Blustein
  • Mike Barnett
Article

Abstract

For over a decade, the National Science Foundation’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program has funded researchers and educators to build an understanding of best practices, contexts, and processes contributing to K-12 students’ motivation and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) activities that lead to STEM career pathways. The outcomes from these projects have contributed significantly to the national body of knowledge about strategies, successes, models, and interventions that support and encourage youth to pursue STEM careers. While the individual projects discussed in this special issue vary by geographic location, institution, populations served, primary focus, and topic, they are unified by ITEST’s programmatic intent and goals. This issue offers research-based insights into the knowledge generated by a decade of ITEST-funded work in STEM career development. The articles describe a multitude of approaches to project design, evaluation, and empirical research. Collectively, they contribute to the development of frameworks for STEM education and workforce development that are increasingly relevant for educators, project designers, researchers, and policy makers. The ITEST program has enabled creativity, experimentation, and cultural responsiveness in STEM education and workforce development and broadened participation in STEM initiatives to Native American communities, underresourced urban communities, girls, and populations underrepresented in STEM fields. By approaching research and evaluation with flexibility and resourcefulness, the authors provide empirical evidence for the value of innovative approaches to STEM education that promote STEM interest and career-related outcomes and that build the foundational skills of the scientific and engineering workforce of the future.

Keywords

STEM career development Science education Workforce innovation STEM education STEM engagement ITEST 

References

  1. Akom AA, Scott A, Shah A (2013) Rethinking resistance theory through STEM education: how working class kids get world class careers. In: Tuck E, Yang KW (eds) Youth resistance research and theories of change. Routledge, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  2. Barab S, Squire K (2004) Design-based research: putting a stake in the ground. J Learn Sci 13(1):1–14. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blustein DL (2006) The psychology of working: a new perspective for counseling, career development, and public policy. Routledge, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  4. Census Bureau US (2013) Disparities in STEM employment by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. US Department of Commerce, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. Cover B, Jones J, Watson A (2011) Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations: a visual essay. Mon Labor Rev 3–15 Retrieved from http://stat.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2011/05/art1full.pdf
  6. Goulden M, Frasch K, Mason MA (2009) Staying competitive: patching America’s leaky pipeline in the sciences. University of California, Berkeley Center on Health, Economic, & Family Security and the Center for American Progress, Berkeley, CAGoogle Scholar
  7. Heppner MJ (2013) Women, men and work: the long road to gender equity. In: Brown SD, Lent RW (eds) Career development and counseling: putting theory and research to work, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York, pp. 187–214Google Scholar
  8. Krugman P (2012) End this depression now! W. W. Norton & Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Lent RW, Brown SD, Hackett G (2002) Social cognitive career theory. In: Brown D, Associates (eds) Career choice and development, 4th edn. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 255–311Google Scholar
  10. Maltese AV, Tai RH (2011) Pipeline persistence: examining the association of educational experiences with earned degrees in STEM among US students. Sci Educ 95(5):877–907CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meluso A, Zheng M, Spires HA, Lester J (2012) Enhancing 5th graders’ science content knowledge and self-efficacy through game-based learning. Comput Educ 59(2):497–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mervis J (2016) NSF director unveils big ideas, with an eye on the next president and Congress. Science. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/nsf-director-unveils-big-ideas-eye-next-president-and-congress
  13. National Research Council. (2007) Taking science to school: learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11625
  14. National Science Board (2008) Science and engineering indicators 2008. Two volumes. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA (Vol. 1, NSB 08-01; Vol. 2, NSB 08-01A).Google Scholar
  15. National Science Board (2015) Revisiting the STEM workforce: a companion to science and engineering indicators 2014. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VAGoogle Scholar
  16. National Science Foundation (2014) Investing in science, engineering, and education for the Nation’s future—National Science Foundation Strategic Plan for 2014–2018. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf14043 Google Scholar
  17. National Science Foundation (2015) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program solicitation. https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15599/nsf15599.htm
  18. National Science Foundation (2016) 10 Big ideas for future NSF investments. http://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/reports/nsf_big_ideas.pdf
  19. Ocumpaugh J, San Pedro MO, Lai H, Baker RS, Borgen F (2016) Middle school engagement with mathematics software and later interest and self-efficacy for stem careers. J Sci Educ Technol. doi:10.1007/s10956-016-9637-1 Google Scholar
  20. Russell ML, Atwater MM (2005) Traveling the road to success: a discourse on persistence throughout the science pipeline with African American students at a predominantly white institution. J Res Sci Teach 42:691–715. doi:10.1002/tea.20068 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Schmidt CD, Hardinge GB, Rokutani LJ (2012) Expanding the school counselor repertoire through STEM-focused career development. Career Dev Q 60(1):25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schuster C, Martiny SE (2016) Not feeling good in stem: effects of stereotype activation and anticipated affect on women’s career aspirations. Sex Roles. doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0665-3 Google Scholar
  23. Shoffner M, Dockery DJ (2015) Promoting interest in and entry into science, technology, engineering, and technology careers. In: Hartung PJ, Savickas ML, Walsh WB (eds) APA handbook of career intervention, vol Vol. 2. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., pp. 125–137. doi:10.1037/14439-010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (2012) STEM education: preparing jobs for the future. US Congress Joint Economic Committee, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  25. Xue Y, Larson R (2015) STEM crisis or STEM surplus? Yes and yes. Mon Labor Rev 1–15Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice Connors-Kellgren
    • 1
  • Caroline E. Parker
    • 2
  • David L. Blustein
    • 1
  • Mike Barnett
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston College Lynch School of EducationBostonUSA
  2. 2.STEM Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at EDCWalthamUSA

Personalised recommendations