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STEM News Roundup: Study Finds Improving Teachers' Math Content Knowledge Not Enough to Increase Student Achievement

STEM News Roundup: Study Finds Improving Teachers' Math Content Knowledge Not Enough to Increase Student Achievement

A new study from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) has found that providing teachers with professional development opportunities helps to improve their own math skills but does not help them improve student achievement in their classrooms.

"The study, commissioned by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, examined the impact of a three-part content-intensive PD program. The foundation of the 93-hour PD program was Intel Math, an 80-hour summer workshop designed to deepen teachers’ knowledge of K-8 math. Two school-year components totaling 13 hours supported the transfer of knowledge to classroom instruction,” said AIR in a statement.

The study found that the intensive PD program helped teachers with average math skills significantly improve. Teachers who previously scored in the 50th percentile scored above the 70th percentile after participating in the program.

Unfortunately, the study did not find this improvement of skills to translate to improved student achievement.

According to the researchers, their study exemplifies the failure of PD programs to focus on both improving teachers’ content knowledge as well as their instructional practices.

"The study PD assumed that teachers’ content knowledge is related to instructional practice, which in turn is related to student achievement,” the report said.

"Contrary to these assumptions, both knowledge and instructional practice in the study were generally not statistically significantly associated with student achievement. . . . Thus, future research might focus on identifying PD that will improve this aspect of practice. Future research might also seek to identify other aspects of knowledge and practice to target with PD that are more strongly related to improved student achievement.

Read the full study here. 

MIT Partnership Helps Students Use STEAM to Solve World’s Environmental Problems

A partnership between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Nord Anglia Education (NAE) is bringing a one-of-a-kind intensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum to it’s over 34,000 students in 15 countries.

The global initiative will, starting this term, challenge students in three phases "to solve a real-life problem facing their local community,” said NAE in a statement.

Specifically, “[s]tudents will have to identify and describe an environmental problem in their city and the impact on the overall health of the city including air, food, water, energy, transportation and waste,” NAE said.

"They will then use the skills they learned through the guidance of MIT experts and STEAM teachers to question and delve deeper through research, analysis and the collection of data. The final stage will focus on addressing the problem and creating a solution which students will present at MIT. “

The end-goal is to provide students with a unique experience that will result in the acquisition of 21st-century skills and an ability to solve real-world problems for the benefit of their future careers.

Read more about the partnership through NAE’s website here. 


National Science Foundation Spends $150,000 to Help LGBT Feel Included in Engineering Culture

In an attempt to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students receive the same opportunities in engineering as other student groups, the National Science Foundation is spending $150,000 to conduct research on how to do just that.

“While researchers understand the conventions of engineering culture that can damage non-heterosexual engineering students and engineers, they still know very little about how engineering cultures can support these same engineers,” the grant states, according The Washington Free Beacon.

The project will begin this January and conclude December 2018.

Read more about it here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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