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STEM education in CFC schools: A study on curriculum, resource availability, and interests in STEM fields among students and teachers

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Abstract:

Purpose: Schuster (2013) defines STEM education as a way to harness great potential to positively impact regional and national economies; therefore an issue of utmost importance to policy makers and funding organizations is how to recruit, train, and retain quality teachers in these fields. In recent years there has been a call for an implementation of STEM education into modern school curricula. This paper proposes to present a case study on Cambodia and the NGO called “Caring for Cambodia” through an evaluation of the current CFC school curriculum and how they implement STEM disciplines. This is needed to analyze how students in these schools are being educated to keep up with the advancements in the developed world in the areas of math and science. It is necessary to evaluate current STEM education in CFC schools to provide a framework for sustainable, successful STEM integration into all junior high and high schools to assist in making CFC’s educational practices more globally competitive and competent.

Theoretical Framework: With the first science lab opening in CFC schools in 2012, and another 12 planned for 2013-2014, CFC has taken crucial steps towards providing opportunities for their students in a STEM education field. With further emphasis placed on, and investments in science and mathematics, students will be able to take practical skills learned in the classroom or lab and apply those skills in their community and daily life. By adding to their stock of knowledge, students will acquire human capital and enhance their future productivity (Lewis, 1954). This study will determine how to best integrate STEM education practices so that students can reach their highest potential and implement what they have learned in their communities.

Research Design: In November 2013, a team of graduate researchers from Lehigh University’s College of Education will travel to Cambodia and collect data using a mixed methods approach. The research being carried out focuses on both the STEM curriculum as well as the attitudes towards its implementation. We will collect surveys from over 1000 students grades 7-12, and then a smaller group from this same sample will be selected by the principal of each school to take part in focus groups in order to collect more in-depth data. Teacher focus groups will be used to gather general and in-depth information about their educational background, and attitudes towards the curriculum that is currently in place and the resources that are available to them. We will also conduct individual interviews with the small sample of principals of CFC schools to gather information about their schools in regards to teacher development, school characteristics, school-wide parental involvement, and school resources.

Data Sources/ Expected Results: The sources of data will be math and science teachers, students, and administrators at Caring for Cambodia’s schools. We will present the results of the surveys and interviews at the CIES conference. Based on our sample data and statistical tests, we will draw conclusions about the current state of STEM education in CFC schools by comparing our results to international STEM education standards. We hope to see a relationship between achievement levels and interest in these specific fields of study. Also, we plan to determine whether there is a correlation between how students feel about their math and science curriculum and their interest in STEM related careers. Finally, we will analyze how teachers’ educational background and training influences their effectiveness in teaching STEM concepts.

Significance to the field of comparative or international education:
As STEM education continues to become a widely accepted global standard, it is important to assess how the implementation of its practices can be made more successful not only in developed countries but developing countries as well. Cambodia does not participate in either TIMMS or PISA, making international comparisons difficult. Our results may facilitate recognizing areas that can be strengthened and improved upon in CFC schools, making Cambodia more relevant on the international stage. This could potentially serve as a model for countries and other NGOs in a similar position, and is an important addition to the field of comparative and international education.


References:

Lewis, W. A. (1954). Economic development with unlimited supplies of labour.The manchester school, 22(2), 139-191.
Schuster, D. (2013). In pursuit of sustainable STEM certification programs. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(4), 38-45.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
URL:
http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709289_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Pritt, Amanda., Ozturk, Busra. and Buccella, Alyssa. "STEM education in CFC schools: A study on curriculum, resource availability, and interests in STEM fields among students and teachers" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709289_index.html>

APA Citation:

Pritt, A. G., Ozturk, B. and Buccella, A. , 2014-03-10 "STEM education in CFC schools: A study on curriculum, resource availability, and interests in STEM fields among students and teachers" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709289_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Purpose: Schuster (2013) defines STEM education as a way to harness great potential to positively impact regional and national economies; therefore an issue of utmost importance to policy makers and funding organizations is how to recruit, train, and retain quality teachers in these fields. In recent years there has been a call for an implementation of STEM education into modern school curricula. This paper proposes to present a case study on Cambodia and the NGO called “Caring for Cambodia” through an evaluation of the current CFC school curriculum and how they implement STEM disciplines. This is needed to analyze how students in these schools are being educated to keep up with the advancements in the developed world in the areas of math and science. It is necessary to evaluate current STEM education in CFC schools to provide a framework for sustainable, successful STEM integration into all junior high and high schools to assist in making CFC’s educational practices more globally competitive and competent.

Theoretical Framework: With the first science lab opening in CFC schools in 2012, and another 12 planned for 2013-2014, CFC has taken crucial steps towards providing opportunities for their students in a STEM education field. With further emphasis placed on, and investments in science and mathematics, students will be able to take practical skills learned in the classroom or lab and apply those skills in their community and daily life. By adding to their stock of knowledge, students will acquire human capital and enhance their future productivity (Lewis, 1954). This study will determine how to best integrate STEM education practices so that students can reach their highest potential and implement what they have learned in their communities.

Research Design: In November 2013, a team of graduate researchers from Lehigh University’s College of Education will travel to Cambodia and collect data using a mixed methods approach. The research being carried out focuses on both the STEM curriculum as well as the attitudes towards its implementation. We will collect surveys from over 1000 students grades 7-12, and then a smaller group from this same sample will be selected by the principal of each school to take part in focus groups in order to collect more in-depth data. Teacher focus groups will be used to gather general and in-depth information about their educational background, and attitudes towards the curriculum that is currently in place and the resources that are available to them. We will also conduct individual interviews with the small sample of principals of CFC schools to gather information about their schools in regards to teacher development, school characteristics, school-wide parental involvement, and school resources.

Data Sources/ Expected Results: The sources of data will be math and science teachers, students, and administrators at Caring for Cambodia’s schools. We will present the results of the surveys and interviews at the CIES conference. Based on our sample data and statistical tests, we will draw conclusions about the current state of STEM education in CFC schools by comparing our results to international STEM education standards. We hope to see a relationship between achievement levels and interest in these specific fields of study. Also, we plan to determine whether there is a correlation between how students feel about their math and science curriculum and their interest in STEM related careers. Finally, we will analyze how teachers’ educational background and training influences their effectiveness in teaching STEM concepts.

Significance to the field of comparative or international education:
As STEM education continues to become a widely accepted global standard, it is important to assess how the implementation of its practices can be made more successful not only in developed countries but developing countries as well. Cambodia does not participate in either TIMMS or PISA, making international comparisons difficult. Our results may facilitate recognizing areas that can be strengthened and improved upon in CFC schools, making Cambodia more relevant on the international stage. This could potentially serve as a model for countries and other NGOs in a similar position, and is an important addition to the field of comparative and international education.


References:

Lewis, W. A. (1954). Economic development with unlimited supplies of labour.The manchester school, 22(2), 139-191.
Schuster, D. (2013). In pursuit of sustainable STEM certification programs. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(4), 38-45.


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