The ability to explain phenomena in science and design solutions to problems in engineering is essential for all students to navigate their daily lives and future careers. Contemporary approaches respect the diversity of students’ experiences, recognize the merit of students’ ideas, and promote the inclusion of all students in science and engineering. Okhee Lee, New York University; Tricia Shelton, NSTA; Scott Grapin, University of Miami
Future Approaches in STEM Education. By Okhee Lee, New York University; Tricia Shelton, NSTA; Scott Grapin, University of Miami, 2022-12-21
Posted this past December 2022 on the NSTA blog, authors Okhee Lee, New York University; Tricia Shelton, NSTA; Scott Grapin, University of Miami discuss how societal challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, have further exposed injustices disproportionately impacting minoritized groups and how this challenges present an unprecedented opportunity to center justice in STEM education and society broadly. They further note that the previous generation of science standards was based on the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council 1996). Contemporary approaches, based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), “flip” traditional approaches (Lee, Shelton, & Soriano 2022; https://www.nsta.org/blog/contemporary-approaches-science-education-all-students). and building on and extending contemporary approaches.
The authors propose justice-centered STEM education as one example of a future approach that addresses pressing societal challenges while centering justice:
Proposed Shifts from Science to Equity to Justice
- Equity is at the center of contemporary approaches in science and engineering education. All students are expected to engage in science and engineering to make sense of phenomena and problems as scientists and engineers do in their professional work.
- Justice is at the center of future approaches in STEM education. Students examine how minoritized groups are disproportionately impacted by pressing societal challenges, how solutions privilege some groups over others, and how solutions informed by STEM disciplines can widen disparities.
- From Student Interest to Agency to Advocacy. Student agency is at the center of contemporary approaches in science and engineering education. Students take on the agentive roles of scientists and engineers as they engage in science and engineering to make sense of phenomena in science and design solutions to problems in engineering (i.e., what knowledge does; knowledge-in-use). Students’ own questions about phenomena and problems drive their learning. To make sense of phenomena and problems, students engage in three-dimensional learning by blending science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas in science and engineering. Over time, students develop their understanding of science and engineering coherently.
- Student advocacy. As students make sense of pressing societal challenges, they are better equipped to make informed decisions about these challenges and take responsible actions. As pressing societal challenges demand solutions, students put their STEM learning into action by advocating for minoritized groups disproportionately impacted by these challenges (i.e., what knowledge does for a more just society; knowledge for action that promotes justice).