Providing Ongoing Support for STEM Teachers
The Math and Science Partnership Knowledge Management and Dissemination (MSP-KMD) was funded as a Research, Evaluation, and Technical Assistance project to support knowledge management within the MSP program and to disseminate information to the broader mathematics and science education community. The overall goal of MSP-KMD was to synthesize findings in the K–12 arena in a small number of important areas, articulating the contribution of the MSP program to the knowledge base and identifying “gaps” and promising practices/strategies for further investigation. In this way, MSPs and the field at large can benefit from MSPs’ research and development efforts.
MSP-KMD focused its knowledge acquisition and knowledge sharing efforts in three primary areas: deepening teacher content knowledge (including disciplinary content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and understanding science/mathematics as ways of knowing); preparing, deploying, and supporting teacher leaders; and lessons learned about STEM faculty involvement in the K–12 arena. In its last year, MSP-KMD examined STEM PLCs as an approach for improving mathematics/science teaching and learning. The MSP-KMD process involved the collection and synthesis of both research-based findings and practice-based insights. The analysis of research was conducted using the Standards of Evidence process developed by MSP-KMD to operationalize best practices in empirical research involving various quantitative and qualitative methodologies (Heck & Minner, 2009).
In addition, practice-based insights were collected from online panels composed of representatives from MSP projects and other experienced practitioners. The processes used for collecting and vetting practice-based insights will be shared with the field in an article: What Do We Know and How Well Do We Know It? Identifying Practice-Based Insights in Education (Miller & Pasley, in press). The products of these syntheses are over 30 knowledge reviews that provide guidance to STEM educators based on what is known from research and practice. In addition, MSP-KMD developed cases studies that describe actions of, and lessons learned by, MSP project leaders, which serve as a resource for current and future program designers. There are three case volumes available to the MSP and broader education community:
1. Designing for Sustainability: Lessons Learned about Deepening Teacher Content Knowledge from Four Cases in NSF's Math and Science Partnership Program. (http://www.mspkmd.net/cases/tck/sustainability/)
2. Toward Sustainability: Strategies from Four Cases of Teacher Leadership in NSF Math and Science Partnerships. (http://www.mspkmd.net/cases/tl.php)
3. Deepening Teachers’ Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge: Lessons from NSF Math and Science Partnerships. (http://www.mspkmd.net/cases/tck/perspectives)
MSP-KMD has also developed a searchable, online, database with information about instruments used to assess mathematics and science teacher content knowledge. The database, which includes 167 instruments, is searchable by a number of categories including content area, grade level, and nature of the instrument (e.g., multiple-choice/constructed response). In addition, the project prepared materials to help in the design, implementation, reporting, and interpretation of research on STEM interventions. Learning Together: A User-Friendly Tool to Support Research on STEM Education Interventions and a briefer version aimed at consumers of research are currently being reviewed.
There is an increasing emphasis in education for the use of research-based strategies, evidence-based outcomes, and data-driven decision-making. Often, people equate research, evidence, and data with a certain kind of knowledge: empirical knowledge. Despite this emphasis, many important decisions made in educational settings are drawn from practice. MSP-KMD developed a methodology by which practice-based insights might be systematically collected, analyzed, and interpreted, so that they can be credibly held next to what is known from empirical research. In this way, practice-based knowledge along with what is known from empirical research can be used by administrators, teachers, and other educators needing to make informed decisions in practice; and by policy makers wanting to move beyond anecdotal information to guide policy decisions. The products that were developed by this process and made available by the MSP-KMD project can be used by various education professionals to guide the design, implementation, and support of STEM education interventions for teachers.
For More Information
For more information about the MSP-KMD project and to access the resources and products developed by this project, visit http://www.mspkmd.net
Heck, D. J. & Minner, D. D. (2009). Codebook for standards of evidence for empirical research. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc. (http://www.mspkmd.net/pdfs/soe.pdf )
Miller, B. & Pasley, J. (in press). What do we know and how well do we know it? Identifying practice-based insights in education. Evidence and Policy.