Initial Publication Date: July 17, 2020

About this Project

The approach

Our approach was framed for the participants through a concept paper: Developing the future substance of STEM education (adapted from analysis conducted by and reported in Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe, Terry (2013)). In this concept paper we broadly organize our thinking about the future substance of STEM education through the integration of three broad categories of knowledge: foundational knowledge (core content knowledge of STEM disciplines); meta knowledge (skills, mindsets, and attitudes that address the process of working with foundational knowledge); and humanistic knowledge (human-centered values we bring to our knowledge and action). This framework is diagrammatically represented below.

Pre-workshop webinars

The design-studio workshop was preceded by four webinars that explored the framework and set the stage for the design sessions. The first three webinars introduced and explored the framework while the fourth set the stage for the design sessions. It is important to note, in this context, that though the first three webinars were each framed around one component of the framework the discussion was usually integrative in nature—connecting across the domains for foundational, meta and humanistic knowledge.

  1. Humanistic Knowledge Webinar (Sept. 15, 2020): Katina Michael (Professor at Arizona State University and Founding Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society) and Richard Pitt (Associate Professor at UCSD)discussed the importance of humanistic knowledge within an integrated STEM landscape.
  2. Meta Knowledge Webinar (Sept. 17, 2020): Candace Thille (Director of Learning Science and Engineering at Amazon) and Elke Weber (Professor and Director of the Behavioral Science for Policy Lab at Princeton University) discussed the integration of meta principles in STEM contexts.
  3. Foundational Knowledge Webinar (Sept. 23, 2020): Thomas Zurbuchen (Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA) and Susan Singer (Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Professor at Rollins College) explored the framework of foundational knowledge and what that means for innovation.
  4. Pre-workshop Webinar (Sept. 24, 2020): This webinar was used to introduce the participants to upcoming design sessions. The webinar focused on finalizing team formation, setting pre-workshop expectations, and pre-reviewing the structure of the week-long design sessions.

Design-Studio Workshop

The workshop adopted a design-studio format, in which participant teams were tasked to create future STEM program concepts, and then scaffolded into iterative rounds of work and feedback. A range of opportunities were provided to the participants to see the work being done by other teams and learn from them as well as to provide feedback. A strong emphasis was also placed on creating a sense of community and collegiality even while maintain high expectations and standards.

Feedback from participants

The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive (overall satisfaction averaged 9 on a 10-point scale), most seeing it as a valuable experience. In particular they indicated the importance of: the framework and the webinar in setting the stage for the design sessions; the actual design of the sessions that provided them both the flexibility to work as well as to learn from others; and the deeply meaningful nature of the work. Of most significance were the following facts.

  1. Most participants believed that their projects integrated the three forms of knowledge quite well with 90% of the participants reporting substantial or total integration.
  2. Many participants indicated that they would continue to work together on the projects and move them towards actual implementation with some teams exploring further funding, emergent publications and more for their projects.
  3. Participants were grateful for the emergent community of like-minded STEM educators that had come together and indicated a significant interest in continuing this conversation into the future.

Some key quotes from the participants about the design studio workshop experience and the value of the framework:

"The content and format were excellent. I thought that the three webinars prior to the working session were outstanding and I will return to them in the future as references for the framework."

"I'm amazed at how much we accomplished."

"I feel like I learned a lot and the final product feels valuable because I think it could actually be implemented at my university."

"The workshop was a very worthwhile experience. We made great progress on a product that I'm sure will be successful. I hope the leadership group is able to offer it every year."

"I signed on to the workshop because of its intriguing title, but without much understanding of its focus and purpose...It turned out to be much more interesting, informative, and fun than I had realized, and it's seldom one can say that--in many cases much is promised, but little is delivered. In this case, the opposite was true."

"The framework was a beautiful formation to guide our work and provide concrete validation for including the humanities as an important aspect of STEM education."

"The framework is a powerful message that made many of us think of STEM courses and programs in a radically different light. Though, many of us may be aware of the three components on their own, integrating them together in the true sense has been a challenge, but a critical part of this project."