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Co-developing STEM activities through design thinking approach for fifth graders

2020
Öztürk, Ahsen
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education aims to integrate diverse disciplines by making interdisciplinary collaboration in K-12 education. When we review the STEM training and course materials given to teachers in Turkey, it is observed that they mainly focus on science and mathematics, and remain insufficient for disciplines such as social sciences, Turkish, English or visual arts. This situation implies that teachers from diverse disciplines need to work collaboratively among themselves. Creative processes that prioritize the effective participation of students and the design methods that support these processes have been increasingly used for different purposes in education. From this perspective, design is one of the most significant areas that would contribute to interdisciplinary education. This study uses the ―design thinking‖ (DT) approach for the development and implementation of STEM activities by secondary school teachers from various disciplines. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of the DT approach on STEM education. To test the proposed DT approach developed within the scope of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education aims to integrate diverse disciplines by making interdisciplinary collaboration in K-12 education. When we review the STEM training and course materials given to teachers in Turkey, it is observed that they mainly focus on science and mathematics, and remain insufficient for disciplines such as social sciences, Turkish, English or visual arts. This situation implies that teachers from diverse disciplines need to work collaboratively among themselves. Creative processes that prioritize the effective participation of students and the design methods that support these processes have been increasingly used for different purposes in education. From this perspective, design is one of the most significant areas that would contribute to interdisciplinary education. This study uses the ―design thinking‖ (DT) approach for the development and implementation of STEM activities by secondary school teachers from various disciplines. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of the DT approach on STEM education. To test the proposed DT approach developed within the scope of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education aims to integrate diverse disciplines by making interdisciplinary collaboration in K-12 education. When we review the STEM training and course materials given to teachers in Turkey, it is observed that they mainly focus on science and mathematics, and remain insufficient for disciplines such as social sciences, Turkish, English or visual arts. This situation implies that teachers from diverse disciplines need to work collaboratively among themselves. Creative processes that prioritize the effective participation of students and the design methods that support these processes have been increasingly used for different purposes in education. From this perspective, design is one of the most significant areas that would contribute to interdisciplinary education. This study uses the ―design thinking‖ (DT) approach for the development and implementation of STEM activities by secondary school teachers from various disciplines. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of the DT approach on STEM education. To test the proposed DT approach developed within the scope of this study, one pilot and two main studies were carried out with teachers in 2017 and 2018. In the main studies, co-design workshops were organized with five 5th-grade teachers and one researcher-designer. In these workshops, teachers designed STEM activities and lessons for 5th-grade students by using the proposed DT approach. Then, STEM activities and lessons were implemented in the 5th-grade class of 16 students. The study documents the analysis and evaluation of data from co-design workshops, focus group, group interviews, individual interviews, mobile instant messaging, and observation. Findings from the study indicate that the implementation of the DT approach in STEM education presents solutions to the challenges of STEM education, including collaboration among teachers, integration of disciplines, and developing and implementing STEM activities appropriate to the learner level. This study also provides the proposed DT approach as a teachers‘ guide for developing and implementing STEM activities.