Characteristics of Exemplary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-Related Experiential Learning Opportunities
Simmons, Jamie Munn
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Experiential opportunities at the secondary level give students the 'intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education' (Dewey, 1938, p. 19-20). Career and Technical Education classes (CTE) and co-curricular experiences, one type of experiential learning, underpin and cultivate student curiosity and often channel interests into STEM-related post-secondary disciplines and career choices. There is little existent research on the characteristics of exemplary experiential learning opportunities and the impact on stakeholders. This study is intended to identify the qualities and characteristics of an exemplary secondary experience through the lived experiences of the stakeholders; students, STEM-related teachers, and CTE/STEM Administrators. A qualitative research design was used to examine characteristics and implications for students of four STEM-related programs throughout Virginia. Conclusions from the study include fundamental principles for providing exemplary experiential STEM-related learning opportunities. These principles include: providing hands-on, real world learning opportunities for students, providing learning opportunities that will enhance student ownership in their learning, providing unique and comprehensive career exploration opportunities for students, providing a schedule for teachers that will give them time to plan, deliver, and manage exemplary experiential learning opportunities, providing continual teacher and administrator in-service training relative to planning and implementing exemplary experiential learning opportunities, investing appropriate funds for providing exemplary experiential learning opportunities. Establishing and maintaining active partnerships with business/industry and colleges/universities, and maintaining active advisory communities, providing appropriate staff to support the provision of exemplary experiential learning opportunities is needed. The need for adequate funding, improving perception of CTE and STEM programs, and small class sizes was also recommended.
- Doctoral Dissertations