In recent years, “STEM” has become a buzzword among the global education practitioners who have called for curriculum reforms that will boost the competitiveness of the next generation by nurturing their problem-solving ability and creativity. STEM education is "a standard-based, meta-discipline residing at the school level where all teachers, especially science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers, teach an integrated approach to teaching and learning, where discipline-specific content is not divided, but addressed and treated as one dynamic, fluid study" (Merrill, 2009, p. 49). Simply put, it serves as a mean to integrate different disciplines as used in tackling real-life problems. In the long term, this cross-disciplinary subject is expected to enhance problem-solving skills, critical and analytical thinking in students, and cultivate them to be constructive and innovative citizens.
The significance of STEM education in today’s technologically-dominated world cannot be underrated. STEM competencies, nowadays, are not only required within but also outside of the STEM occupations. In this regard, the development of students’ STEM competencies has become an urgent goal of many education systems around the globe in K-12. The U.S. government has heavily invested in STEM education by implementing some state-level initiatives. For example, The “Educate to Innovate” initiative, launched in 2009, aims to enhance STEM literacy, improve teaching quality and increase educational and career opportunities for the youth through the collaboration between the government, the private sector and the non-profit and research communities (Burke & McNeill, 2011). In the U.K., the STEM education reform aims to ensure the provision of qualified people in the STEM workforce and the development of STEM literacy for the public (Department of Education and Skills, 2006). In Asian countries such as Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Japan, STEM education has also emerged as an important curriculum reform (Ritz & Fan, 2015).
In addition to the growing global interest and strong endeavour in STEM curriculum development, efforts should be particularly made in the increase of STEM teacher supply through a well-designed teacher professional development, which is a critical factor of a successful education. Since STEM is a cross-disciplinary subject, it is expected that students are taught to apply their disciplinary concepts and skills in integrated contexts (Kelley & Knowles, 2016). However, most of the current teachers who have received training in only one field may fail to adopt an integrated and holistic approach to teach STEM (Honey, Pearson & Schweingruber, 2014). A well-suited teacher professional development will not only equip teachers with sufficient STEM knowledge and related instruction approaches that can address the learning needs of students, but also develop their confidence in and positive perception of STEM education, which significantly correlates to the effectiveness of STEM learning.
Currently, while there is considerable research on the teacher professional development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics individually, little is concretely known about that in STEM education. Research and educators should start reflecting on the issues such as what limitations the current teacher professional development has, what challenges the STEM teachers have encountered, and how to tailor-make an effective teacher professional development course that meets current pedagogical needs in different education levels. Therefore, this workshop aims to provide an academic platform for educational researchers to share insights and research experiences in teacher professional development in STEM education for pre- and in-service K-12 teachers, as well as tertiary educators. Topics of interests include, but not limited to, the following:
- Theories of teacher professional development in STEM education;
- Innovative approaches to teacher professional development in STEM education;
- Teachers’ concerns and challenges of STEM education;
- Teachers’ facilitation roles in STEM education;
- TPACK of STEM teachers;
- Empowering pre-service/ beginning STEM teachers;
- Effective implementation of K-16 STEM education curricula;
- Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in STEM education;
- Pedagogies for STEM education;
- Assessment of STEM education.
Burke, L., & McNeill, J. B. (2011). Educate to Innovate: How the Obama plan for STEM education falls short. Backgrounder, 2504, 1-8. Department of Education and Skills. (2006). The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme report. Retrieved from http://www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/res/documents/page/050110114146stem_programme_report_2006.pdf
Honey, M., Pearson, G., & Schweingruber, H. (Eds). (2014). STEM integration in K-12 education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Kelley, T. R., & Knowles, J. G. (2016). A conceptual framework for integrated STEM education. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(11), 1–11.
Merrill, C. (2009). The future of TE masters degrees: STEM. Paper presented at the 70th Annual International Technology Education Association Conference, Louisville, Kentucky.
Ritz, J. M., & Fan, S. C. (2015). STEM and technology education: international state-of-the-art. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 25(4), 429-451.