STEM Professional Development

In our research on professional development we work to consider a variety of formats and designs that are both interesting to educators as well as effective models for improving teacher education. There is a strong push for STEM/STEAM implementation in schools currently and sometimes a gap between a classroom teacher’s training/experience and the curriculum or STEM ideas they are being asked to incorporate. We find this to be particularly important at the elementary, K-5 level where most teachers are generalists. At foundry10, we are interested in professional development that can help teachers expand their own understanding of STEM concepts while directly providing a tangible benefit to their students. With that in mind, we are teaming up with a local school district to measure the effectiveness of a hybrid (both online and in-person) STEM professional development for teachers at the elementary level.

This PD course, designed by a learning coach at the partner district based on No Fear Coding: Computational Thinking Across the K-5 Curriculum by Heidi Williams aims to increase primary teachers’ knowledge, skills and comfort with teaching coding and computational thinking. Participating teachers will complete two 10-15 minute surveys with questions related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching and PD experiences. Survey responses will help us identify preferred forms of STEM related PD among elementary school teachers and help us explore if more research in this area is justifiable. Foundry10 has a strong interest in teacher technology integration and STEM instruction and has several projects running in this area. This particular focus on PD for elementary teachers in STEM and computational thinking will provide us the ability to better support and prepare teachers while providing data and feedback to the district for use with its future programs.

This research is currently ongoing and will wrap up later in spring 2018. We look forward to sharing results of the study in the early summer. We find the model employed by this district intriguing both for its direct applicability to currently enrolled students, multi-teacher cross school cohort model, and its blend of in-person and digital connectivity. Additionally, we hope that if the model is effective that there may be other opportunities to implement similar models in other learning communities.