STEM Graduate Education: The Problem Dramatic period of change Challenges Changing graduate populations Information technology revolution Globalization New expectations for STEM professionals Outsourcing of cognitive tasks Digital fluency Effective participation in collaborative organizations.
New Educational Needs It is no longer appropriate to think of education as transpiring solely or even mostly in school. It is imperative that students acquire the cognitive and interactional skills necessary for self-directed, lifelong learning. Recent NSF workshop on graduate education: Many new programs and innovations in last ten years. Little research on these innovations Efforts not grounded theoretically Do not employ the power of new media in innovative or effective ways.
Fundamental Claims The world of working and living relies on collaboration, creativity, definition and framing of problems, dealing with uncertainty, change, and distributed cognition. Schools and universities must prepare students for having meaningful and productive lives in such a world. Learning theory must be adequate to support the design of learning environments and research on learning in such a world.
Theoretical Constructs Distributed Intelligence Lifelong Learning Reflective Communities Design of New Media
Proposed Research in Graduate Education (1) Theoretical problem analysis (2) Design and implementation of demonstration socio-technical environments for graduate study (3) Iterative theory-based analyses of learning in these environments, and (4) Revised design of learning environments based on these analyses.
Hypothesis A Graduate course can be designed to seed a self-sustaining “transdisciplinary” community that will sustain itself beyond graduate school for the purpose of addressing socially important problems. Example: Online community of teachers and other scholars who wish to support the teaching of mathematics and science for social justice) that continue beyond graduate school.
Graduate Courses as Seeds Learning through participation in technically, scientifically, socially, and artistically important interdisciplinary inquiry and design. Course Self-sustaining community of interest (COI) that continues beyond school. Learners informed participants, contributors, owners Students lifelong learners & agents of social change. Vertical and horizontal collaborations e.g., computer scientists, STEM teachers (including future university faculty) and learning scientists; broaden sectors of the nation’s population that participate in STEM graduate education; Innovative technologies scaffold collaboration, community building, and learning with and contribution to national digital libraries
Experimental Graduate Course Title: “Interdisciplinary Communities for Social Change through STEM Education” Advertised to: In-service teachers enrolling for graduate credit STEM graduate students and post-docs, future STEM professionals and faculty Graduate students in learning sciences Faculty mentor
Community Course Goals An “emergent community” (members participate in setting agenda) with common interests: Social change through STEM education. Design and diffuse into schools motivating and socially important problem-solving projects as contexts for STEM learning. Help create and maintain resources for STEM teachers (problems, curriculum assessments, ideas), including links to National Digital Libraries. Collaborate with community members in overlapping roles (e.g., teacher is an implementer of curriculum but to some extent researcher; scientist as volunteer resource but to some extent teacher, etc.)
Community Goals (cont’d) The course community is scaffolded to continue as part of a self-sustaining larger community that attracts members and continues beyond graduate school. Future graduate courses continue to introduce new members to the larger community. The community is supported by social structures and innovative technologies that the community itself helps design, evolve, maintain. The community is “the teacher” and “the learner.” As well, individuals are both teachers and learners.
Skill & Knowledge Goals for Graduate Students Participating effectively in transdisciplinary communities. Communication skills Technological fluency Mindsets Practical & theoretical knowledge about communities. Lifelong learning Metacognitive abilities (e.g., what are “learning issues?”) Critical thinking Learning on demand Caring and knowing about real-world needs, including global issues, and being willing to collaborate in addressing them. Encourages broad participation in STEM; different groups view what is socially important from different lenses.
Skill & Knowledge Goals for Graduate Students Leadership and teaching Developer of learning organizations as contexts for apprenticeship and lifelong learning Team building Grant writing Management New teaching competencies (online, community-based)
Research Questions What levels, forms and combinations of human, financial, and technical support are needed to seed, support, sustain such communities? Which aspects of support systems constitute scaffolding that can be provided by institution then faded? Which aspects of support systems must continue as community infrastructure in support of distributed intelligence? Through participating, what do students learn?