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STEM outreach facilitation as a catalyst for 21st century teacher education Marotto, Carlos Cesar Fumagalli

Abstract

This study provides an in-depth description of teacher candidates (TCs)’ experiences of their participation in a family-oriented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach event organized at a Canadian university. In the event, TCs facilitated mentally-engaging hands-on activities to the public as part of a General Science Secondary Methods course. The aim of the study is to further knowledge of the possible role of STEM outreach in teacher education programs, and to learn how this outreach experience impacts TCs’: a) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK); b) communication skills; c) motivation to teach STEM; and d) understanding of how STEM can be taught and learned effectively. This study is situated within a social-constructivist theoretical framework and employed an intrinsic case study methodology with a Partially Mixed Concurrent Dominant Status Design. Although the quantitative facet of the study was given less weight, it informed the analysis of the qualitative data. The data from the pre-event survey (n=29) revealed TCs’ passion for STEM as their greatest self-reported strength, whereas their lack of PCK was self-reported as their greatest limitation. Moreover, the participants predicted that activity facilitation at the event would enhance their teaching skills by allowing them to put their content knowledge into practice to facilitate visitors’ learning experiences. Furthermore, the findings from post-event focus group discussions (n=46) and individual interviews (n=9) indicated that this outreach experience enabled TCs to: a) expand pedagogical content knowledge; b) increase awareness of the role of effective communication on STEM teaching and learning; c) increase or reinforce appreciation of STEM hands-on activities for cognitive and affective reasons; d) enhance or strengthen understanding of the importance of parental engagement with children’s STEM education; and e) put in practice some of the theories learned in the teacher education program. Evidence of the above emerged through TCs’ engagement in the event preparation, activity facilitation at the event, and post-event reflections.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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