CEMSE Receives New NSF Grant to Expand STEM School Studies

November 5, 2012

The CEMSE Research and Evaluation Group at the University of Chicago has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the landscape of inclusive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) high schools across the United States. This study entitled, Identifying and Measuring the Implementation and Impact of STEM School Models, will comprehensively describe and measure models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in 5 states (California, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation, and examine the relationships between model components and a range of student outcomes. The study will increase the understanding of STEM high schools by describing the elements of inclusive STEM high school models and the ways these elements are put into practice. It will also help identify which elements of the schools may be related to desired student outcomes. In addition to the study findings, this project will develop a clear framework for describing STEM school models and instruments for measuring enactment of those models, identify the factors that affect implementation, and create rich descriptions of STEM school practices.

This study grows out of CEMSE’s prior work aimed at understanding the mechanisms of innovation in STEM education. CEMSE is currently in the second year of a three-year NSF-funded study that is examining factors that affect the implementation, spread, and sustainability of the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN) Platform Schools Initiative. The new study will capitalize on our previously developed instruments, processes and findings in an effort to increase the understanding of inclusive STEM school models and to identify the approaches and practices present in these innovations that are related to desired student outcomes. This project’s larger sample size and our existing tool set will allow us to examine STEM school component implementation in multiple contexts, analyze how schools are affected by those contexts, examine relationships between enacted school components and a range of short- and long-term student outcomes, and provide rich descriptions of the particular components and practices that appear to be the most important.

Among the questions we seek to answer are, What are the intended components of each inclusive STEM school’s model? Which of these are unique to particular STEM schools? Which are common across the STEM schools?

What is the status of implementation of the intended components of each STEM school’s model?
What factors contribute to or inhibit the implementation of these components?
What components are most closely related to desired student outcomes in STEM schools?

The project will be led by Jeanne Century, EdD, Director of Science Education, Research, and Evaluation, and Melanie LaForce, PhD, Lead Researcher. For more information, contact Melanie LaForce at laforce@uchicago.edu.


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