By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to a project undertaken by a team of researchers including Dr. Sumreen Asim, assistant professor of technology education at IU Southeast.
Collaborative Research on Integrated STEM Self-Efficacy: A Study of Elementary Preservice Teachers Including Noyce Scholars is the name of the project that seeks to find ways to build confidence (self-efficacy) in elementary STEM instructors.
Asim’s colleagues are Drs. Jeanna Wieselmann of Southern Methodist University, Deepika Menon of the University of Nebraska, and Sara Haines of Towson University,
“I am truly grateful for all the support that IU and IU Southeast have given me to get to this point,” Asim said.
The research responds directly to the profession’s need not only to educate but also to retain teachers.
Early in their careers, elementary teachers often struggle with science, and this struggle has been magnified by the new emphasis on STEM subjects. Among the consequences is a relatively high burnout rate and the abandonment of teaching as a career. This phenomenon is more pronounced in high-need schools, also called Title I schools, in which a sizable percentage of students qualify as low-income, class sizes are too large and a high number of instructors are teaching outside their disciplines. Teachers in such schools are eligible for support from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and in many cases through the Title I program.
While there is a good deal of research on how to support elementary teachers generally, there is very little on how to support elementary STEM educators. Asim and her colleagues hope to fill that gap.
The project will include approximately 700 teachers from across the country who experienced ten different teacher preparation programs. The goal is to identify features of those programs that support early-career elementary teachers’ confidence in teaching integrated STEM (iSTEM)within high-need school districts. According to the research proposal, it will examine relationships among self-efficacy, iSTEM teaching effectiveness, and teacher retention.
Asim will collect survey data from students enrolled in E328 (Science methods) and will follow a small group into their first few years of teaching, making observations and conducting interviews. The data collected will help inform my practice as an elementary STEM methods instructor and make stronger educator.
“The findings that result from this project have the potential to inform the design of teacher education programs and may contribute to the development of more highly qualified elementary STEM teachers,” the report said.
Several schools in the New Albany Floyd County School Corporation, Greater Clark County Schools, and Jefferson County Public Schools, where teacher candidates may be placed during the teacher preparation program, currently qualify for and receive supplemental federal aid through the Title I program.
Besides yielding evidence to support recommendations that could help local school corporations lend more support to elementary STEM educators, the study will benefit teacher candidates at IU Southeast and beyond.
“The data collected will help inform my practice as an elementary STEM methods instructor and make stronger educator,” Asim said. “This work is important not only for my teaching, our program, and our IU Southeast students enrolled in elementary education, but will also inform teacher preparation at large across the U.S.”