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Chesney, Sarah (2017) NAVIGATING THE TERRAIN OF STEM EDUCATION REFORM: TEACHERS’ PERSPECTIVES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study concerns the work of teachers as they implement ambitious educational reforms, which often requires teachers to shift toward significantly different approaches to pedagogy within their unique contexts (Metz, 2009). STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education represents the context of ambitious reform for this study, particularly with focuses on integration across STEM and other disciplines. Current studies tend not to address the practices of STEM teaching and learning, or their effectiveness with respect to design, implementation and resulting student outcomes. How then do educators do this work? As a problem of practice, how do teacher educators support educators in this work?

As a qualitative case study, one interdisciplinary grade-level team, representing middle school mathematics, science, history and English Language Arts (ELA), was observed and interviewed during the planning and implementation of an upcoming collaborative project. Focus groups were used to clarify and member-check collected data.

This purpose of this study was to better understand what the collaborative space contributes to the work of teachers in interdisciplinary collaboration. Findings suggest that teacher agency, in combination with intentional utilization of the collaborative space, provide opportunities for teachers to engage students through non-traditional instructional practices. In addition, the collaborative space appeared to allow for exploration of individual and group teaching practices. The external context also emerged as an essential support and motivation to sustain the collaborative space.

In terms of interdisciplinary outcomes, this case appears to be driven by implicit frameworks for collaborative design, instruction and evaluation. It is unclear to what extent the outcomes were STEM-focused or integrated. In addition, the high leverage of the team’s beliefs may not represent actual student experiences (i.e., some students who thrive within a testing-focused culture, appear to resist open, student-driven learning experiences as designed by the team).

Because of these findings, this study suggests several implications for teachers in defining the explicit frameworks used in their practice. Collaborative exploration of these frameworks may help teams better leverage teacher agency to be more disciplined in their approach to design, instruction and evaluation, and sustaining the work beyond the boundaries of their team.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chesney, Sarahsmc175@pitt.edusmc1750000-0003-0770-5436
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairForman, Elliceellice@pitt.eduellice
Committee MemberAnsell, Ellenansell@pitt.eduansell
Committee MemberIriti, Jennifeririti@pitt.eduiriti
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 July 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 17 August 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 145
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Teacher education
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 20:00
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 20:00


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