Promoting STEM Career Interest in the Classroom: An Exploratory Study Linking Teacher Professional Development with Changes in Teaching Practices

This resource highlights a study within Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST), a program solicitation from the National Science Foundation. The ITEST program funds foundational and applied research projects addressing the development, implementation, and dissemination of innovative strategies, tools, and models for engaging students to be aware of STEM and cognate careers, and to pursue formal school-based and informal out-of-school educational experiences to prepare for such careers.

This ITEST research study examined more than 50 ITEST teacher professional development (PD) projects, to better understand their role in teacher implementation of STEM workplace technologies.

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This resource offers links to published papers at national conferences and a webinar on models and examples of ITEST PD projects (access to all links requires a free account).

The study concludes that classrooms in which intense technology implementers use STEM workplace technologies to engage their students in STEM inquiry practices tend to use more student-centered pedagogical practices, and that teachers in these classrooms are more likely to make connections to the real world, either placing the learning in a local context or connecting it to the workplace. While ITEST and non-ITEST teachers were found to be equally likely to be intense technology implementers—just under 20% of teachers in both groups—there were fewer minimal users of technology in the ITEST group. This indicates that while ITEST PD may not change all teachers into intense technology users, it may help them use technology to transform their teaching in ways that foster student use of STEM inquiry practices, promote student-centered learning, and apply science to real-world problems. Overall, this research provides a deeper understanding of how teachers implement STEM technologies in authentic ways in their classrooms, and of the effect of that implementation on broader teaching practices.