STEM Education within Independent Schools: Exploration of the Conceptualization and Implementation of STEM Programming within Independent Schools

Michael F. Lomuscio, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The purpose of this quantitative study is to explore how independent schools conceptualize and implement STEM programming. Using a survey, data was collected from 451 employees from 143 different independent schools across eight states along the east coast of the United States. Descriptive analysis is used to calculate the implementation of STEM programming reported by respondents at the school level, and to describe means and variation in STEM programming across schools. Cluster analysis is conducted to determine whether schools differ from one another in their conceptualization and implementation of STEM programming; specifically, testing for distinct groupings (i.e., clusters) among the schools with respect to similarities in STEM programming. Descriptive analysis revealed that most schools implement STEM curriculum in terms of isolated disciplines, are implementing older and broader instructional approaches over newer more specific ones, that most schools have 3D printers that are potentially underutilized, and that robotics is the most heavily implemented form of STEM programming among the independent schools sampled. Cluster analysis revealed that schools implement STEM programming in one of two ways. Either they take a broad implementation approach where they implement many different programmatic items across curriculum, instruction, afterschool or extracurricular experiences, and technology or they take a focused approach where they implement just a few programmatic items from each. Schools are consistent in broad or focused implementation of STEM programming across curriculum, instruction, afterschool or extracurricular experiences, and technology. Follow-up interviews showed that variation is to be expected within the broad and focused clusters and highlighted that the unique dynamics functioning within a school (i.e., school mission, the internal or extern development of programming, parent and student interests, and market competition) can impact STEM conceptualization and implementation.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Science education|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Lomuscio, Michael F., "STEM Education within Independent Schools: Exploration of the Conceptualization and Implementation of STEM Programming within Independent Schools" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27829880.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI27829880

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