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STEM Education

Question:

Discuss about the role of Educational Leadership in rasing Teacher's Performance through Trainging on using of STEM Progam in Saudi Arabia.

STEM system refers to the academic fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The acronym that was used for the four fields is known as the METS system. This acronym took birth after a science education meeting between the various agencies that was chaired by Rita Colwell at the US National Science Foundation. This term is generally used to address the policies pertaining to education and the choice of curriculum thereby help to improve the existing competitiveness among the students in the departments of technology and science. The STEM system find its implications in a number of fields. These fields include the development of workforce, the policies of immigration and the concerns that pertain to the national security. The education systems and institutions such as the schools play a huge role in the determination of the interest of the students in the subjects that are covered within the STEM system. These institutions also look into the fact that the students are provided with equal opportunities to access as well as benefit from the education of the STEM subjects.

In the Arabian region there has been a serious issue regarding the poor quality of the education that was being provided along with the high number of unemployed youth, which amounts to almost 30% of the total population of the Arabian Countries. It is observed that $0% of the employers are dissatisfied with the employees who lack proper skill and knowledge. The skills they lack the most constitute of those that are required in order to deal with the multi-faceted problems and the ways to devise integrative and creative solutions for the problems.

Research Paradigm

The proposed study requires the inputs on the perceptions and the attitudes of the teachers and the students that are involved in the study of the subjects of science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Thus, the research paradigm that needs to be applied to this study is the constructivist or the interpretivist approach. In this approach towards research, the qualitative methods gain predominance over the quantitative methods, which are also used in the activity of this research.

Literature Review

In the primary steps that are undertaken in the research, relevant literatures were reviewed. According to El-Deghaidy & Mansour, (2015) the subjects of science and mathematics were taught from the starting point of education through the tenth standard as mandatory subjects in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian schools include both of these subjects in the eleventh and the twelfth standards only for those students who choose to pursue the scientific stream of education. The teacher orientation programs are based on the disciplines that the teachers are supposed to import education. These teachers are generally trained for their jobs through the various institutions that are dedicated towards the education of the teachers. The teachers are observed to prepare as well as deliver the lessons independently in the classrooms. This helps in the setting of the tone in which the teachers of various disciplines may interact across and within a number of disciplines.

STEM Education in Saudi Arabia

On the contrary, Heba et al (2017) argues that multidisciplinary learning refers to the type of knowledge gathering whereby the various fields of knowledge are combined though they remain separable and independent from the others. The interdisciplinary approaches to learning refers to the approach where the fields of study are integrated and the boundaries of these disciplines are blurred. The learners need to have a number of cognitive skills in order to process the knowledge that they gather. This helps them in the producing of a meaningful understanding of the interdisciplinary knowledge that they acquire. Thus, interdisciplinary learnings may be described as a radical restructuring of the complete process of learning. This may be possible through the construction of a model of integrative education, which may be based on the modern methodologies of curricula designing and pedagogy (Crampton, Ragusa & Cavanagh, 2012).

The radical learning structure is known to provide for a linkage to the context of the real world and for the quality in the learning (Erdogan et al, 2016; Hernandez et al, 2014). According to Biasutti and EL-Deghaidy (2012), the interdisciplinary learning systems affect the development of the skills that affect the knowledge management. According to Bybee (2013), there are nine different perspectives to the STEM method of education. These methods range from considering STEM to be a singular reference system to the same being referred to as a transdisciplinary program. STEM may be understood as having an interdisciplinary nature, which attempts to have a focus on solving problems in an authentic manner. The technique followed by the STEM method of education aims to replace the traditional ways of teaching based on lectures to the ways of learning that are based on the inquiries, problems and other projects. These ways of learning serve to be a means of presenting an integrated and meaningful experience of learning that is at times inclusive of two or more of the four principles fields of study that have been identified in the STEM education. This interdisciplinary philosophy helps in the development a deep conceptual understanding of the subject (Biasutti & El-Deghaidy, 2014). In spite of the increase in the interest towards STEM education, Breiner et al (2012) argues that the promoters of the system have put in struggle to conceptualize the practices in an institutional setting.

Vasquez, Comer and Sneider (2013) argue that the practice of STEM education is not a curriculum in itself. It is rather an approach that helps the teachers in the organization and the delivery of the instruction in a manner that aids the students in the application of their knowledge along with their associates in situations that lead to meaningful situations. In order to implement the ways of imparting knowledge on the STEM disciplines, the teachers need to be trained accordingly. The examination of the views of the concerned teacher on the STEM education may prove to be a part of the preparedness for the program implementation (Han et al, 2015). The necessary skills, knowledge beliefs and the experiences of the teachers should be taken into consideration while preparing the teachers for the enactment of such an integrated mode of instruction.

Perceptions and Attitudes of Teachers and Students

In Saudi Arabia, the subjects of mathematics and science are compulsorily taught in the schools up to the tenth standards. The stream of science braches out to its subdivisions of physics, geology, biology and chemistry from the twelfth standard onwards (Moe.gov.sa, 2014). This leads to the limitations in the number of opportunities for the students to communicate between the different disciplines altogether. The efforts to increase the number of the female enrolments in the science related disciplines have been raised (Oecd.org, 2012). The teachers are trained to teach science subjects as a silo discipline in an educational system that is centralized. Mansour et al (2014) argues that the teachers follow the recommendations that have been mandated by the MoE while implementing the curricula of science via the top-down system.

Research Questions

It is a very common practice in the Arabian nations that the subjects like mathematics and science. There may be different aspects that may need to be looked into while introducing the STEM model of education in the schools. The teachers may require shifting from their comfort zones of imparting education in the silos and rather adapt to the STEM method of teaching. The teachers require having a deep knowledge of the content as well as believe strongly in the innovative strategies of teaching. The teachers should also have knowledge on how to bridge the subjects thereby aiding the growth of an interdisciplinary learning process. Strong teams of teachers must be developed in order to help facilitate the creation of a success culture in the schools through the professional communities. Reports claim that there are limited number of teachers who possess a hands-on experience of working with the STEM model of education. The teachers may also be mentioned to lack the required educational background that is needed to teach the subjects that are included in the pedagogy of STEM. According to a report by the National Science Foundation, 30% of the teachers in the science departments of the middle schools lacked in-field training (Casey, 2012).

The study attempts to discuss the role of the educational leadership to aid the rise of the performance of the teachers with the help of training on the use of the STEM program in Saudi Arabia. The research questions in this study may focus on the topics enlisted below.

  • What are the views of the teacher on the STEM model of education?
  • What are the contextual factors that help the teachers to enact the integrated pedagogies of STEM?
  • What are the contextual factors that prove to be a hindrance for the teachers of the science department in the enactment of the pedagogies that have been integrated in the STEM model of teaching?

Study population, sample size and unit of analysis

The participants of this study will include middle school teachers of the science stream of the local educational institutions that are located in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. The chosen institutions will need to be a part of the partnership program that will be sponsored by the same educational center that will be aiding this study. The teachers involved in this study will need to sign a consent form in order to participate in this study. A minimum of 50 teachers will participate in the study.

Challenges and Limitations of STEM Education

Research Methods: Survey Questionnaire

The questions will be set based on the contextual factors that serve to either facilitate the implementation of the practices involved in the STEM model of education or pose to be a hindrance to the same. The teachers will be provided with an open-ended questionnaire that needs to be analyzed in a qualitative manner. The other group of interviewees would include the students. The students would be provided with a close-ended questionnaire that may be analyzed in a quantitative manner.

Data Analysis and Interpretational Methods

The research study will be conducted through the focus groups of study. These study groups will focus on the various matters that are relevant to the views and the understandings of the teachers on the STEM model of education. The groups of the teachers will be formed based on their teaching experiences. The responses that were collected from the focus group studies will be analyzed qualitatively. The qualitative analysis of the collected data may help to reveal the contextual factors in discussion in a clearer manner.

Limitations

The limitations that may be incurred in the completion of this study would pertain to the conditions of budget and the amount of time that may be allocated for the research. The sample size of the research being too low may result in the lesser variety in the data that has been collected for the research purpose. The budget that may be needed for a complete research on the subject exceeds the budget that is assigned thereby leading to the lowering of the collection of the data. The time allocated for this study may prove to be excessively less in comparison to the actual time that may be needed.

Privacy

The privacy of the participants of this survey need to be maintained. The personal details of the participants such as the names, age, institution of profession, educational background and other such details will not be disclosed under any circumstances. The participants will be addressed with the help of assigned pseudonyms if need arises. The focus groups that will be formed would be addressed by the numbers that were assigned to them. The data provided by the participants will not be used to identify them in future.

The Original contribution

The research study will make an attempt to look into the role that is played by the educators in the implementation of the STEM model of education in the educational institutions based in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. The study attempts to look into the training of the teachers who are employed in the teaching of the subjects that are included in the STEM model of education.

Research Schedule

Activities

January

February

March

April

May

June

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Chapter 3: Methodology

Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Findings

Chapter 5: Conclusion

References

Biasutti, M., & Heba, E. D. (2012). Using Wiki in teacher education: Impact on knowledge management processes and student satisfaction. Computers & Education, 59(3), 861-872.

Biasutti, M., & EL-Deghaidy, H. (2015). Interdisciplinary project-based learning: an online wiki experience in teacher education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(3), 339-355.

Breiner, J. M., Harkness, S. S., Johnson, C. C., & Koehler, C. M. (2012). What is STEM? A discussion about conceptions of STEM in education and partnerships. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 3-11.

Bruce-Davis, M. N., Gubbins, E. J., Gilson, C. M., Villanueva, M., Foreman, J. L., & Rubenstein, L. D. (2014). STEM high school administrators’, teachers’, and students’ perceptions of curricular and instructional strategies and practices. Journal of Advanced Academics, 25(3), 272-306.

Bybee, R. W. (2013). The case for STEM education: Challenges and opportunities. National Science Teachers Association.

Casey. (2012). Jec.senate.gov. Retrieved 15 November 2017, from https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/6aaa7e1f-9586-47be-82e7-326f47658320/stem-education---preparing-for-the-jobs-of-the-future-.pdf

Chiu, A., Price, C. A., & Ovrahim, E. (2015, April). Supporting elementary and middle school STEM education at the whole school level: A review of the literature. In NARST 2015 Annual Conference.

Crampton, A., Ragusa, T. A., & Cavanagh, H. (2012). Cross-discipline investigation of the relationship between academic performance and online resource access by distance education students. Research in Learning Technology, 20(1), 14430.

El-Deghaidy, H., & Mansour, N. (2015). Science teachers’ perceptions of STEM education: Possibilities and challenges. International Journal of Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 51-54.

EL-Deghaidy, H., Mansour, N., & Al-Shamrani, S. (2015). Science teachers’ typology of CPD activities: A socio-constructivist perspective. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education 13(6), 1539-1566. doi:10.1007/s10763-014-9560-y

Erdogan, N., Navruz, B., Younes, R., & Capraro, R. M. (2016). Viewing How STEM Project-Based Learning Influences Students' Science Achievement Through the Implementation Lens: A Latent Growth Modeling. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 12(8).

Heba, E. D., Mansour, N., Alzaghibi, M., & Alhammad, K. (2017). Context of STEM Integration in Schools: Views from In-service Science Teachers. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13(6), 2459-2484.

Mansour, N., Heba, E. D., Alshamrani, S., & Aldahmash, A. (2014). Rethinking the theory and practice of continuing professional development: Science teachers’ perspectives. Research in Science Education, 44(6), 949-973.

Moe.gov.sa. (2014). Moe.gov.sa. Retrieved 15 November 2017, from https://www.moe.gov.sa/en/Pages/default.aspx (In Arabic)

Oecd.org. (2012). Oecd.org. Retrieved 15 November 2017, from https://www.oecd.org/edu/EAG%202012_e-book_EN_200912.pdf

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