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Studying & supporting productive disciplinary engagement in STEM learning environments

Koretsky, M., Nolen, S.B., Gilbuena, D.M., Lehtinen, E., Vauras, M., Tierney, G. and Volet, S.E.ORCID: 0000-0001-8450-6663 (2014) Studying & supporting productive disciplinary engagement in STEM learning environments. In: 121st ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) Annual Conference & Exposition, 15 - 18 June 2014, Indianapolis, IN



Researchers have described the advantages of complex, realistic, and challenging science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning environments that engage students in the practices of STEM disciplines. Benefits include increasing students’ likelihood to transfer skills learned during school activities to practice, value of the task, and motivation.1,2,3 Research teams from four universities are currently studying productive disciplinary engagement in these types of learning environments. Productive disciplinary engagement occurs when learners use the discourses and practices of the discipline in authentic tasks in order to “get somewhere” (develop a product, improve a process, gain better understanding of a phenomenon) over time. Productive engagement in meaningful, authentic activity is essential for motivation and progress toward flexible, adaptive expertise in STEM, but learning systems that support it are complex and difficult to scale. Such systems are usually studied and designed in single contexts (e.g., high school environmental science classrooms, engineering design projects), so the knowledge gained, though rich, is difficult to transfer to new settings. Through collaboration among researchers from the United States (Washington and Oregon), Finland, and Australia who study these systems in different curricular, institutional and cultural contexts, we aim to identify unifying themes and develop generalizable understandings about supporting engagement and learning in STEM. We focus on group settings in authentic contexts, where students must integrate and flexibly apply concepts and practices.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Conference Website:
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