Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education in the United States: Areas of Current Successes and Future Needs
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The quality of the public school teacher has the greatest in-school impact on nurturing cognitive abilities, developing content knowledge, and increasing motivation of students. This paper analyzes if, and how, professional development projects enhance the quality of the public school teacher in STEM Education projects. Specifically, this paper seeks to identify particular characteristics of STEM Education professional development projects that improve teacher instruction, and further, improve student achievement. We also identify distinct needs in the research in STEM Education professional development for the projects to be useful and generalizable for the education community. Activities for quality professional development opportunities in mathematics and science need to have a strong emphasis on experiencing, planning, teaching, reflection and professionalism. The most successful teachers have deep content knowledge and then transform that knowledge into meaningful inquiry lessons for their students. We investigate what are the characteristics of successful STEM Education projects that help teachers experience, plan, teach, reflect and transform the new content knowledge and pedagogical skills from the projects into their own teaching. From these projects, can we also identify the areas of future needs in the research for STEM Education professional development?