Perceptions, Engagement, and Practices of Teachers Seeking Professional Development in Place-Based Integrated STEM

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2013


As science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) continue to grow in economic and social importance, it is critical that citizenry are prepared to be STEM literate. Furthermore, the workforce demands on STEM necessitate students seeking STEM degrees and pursuing STEM careers. Primary and secondary (K-12) teachers play an important role in helping students develop fundamental understanding of STEM and the motivation to consider STEM professions. However, many teachers are in need of professional development to enhance their effectiveness to teach STEM. Our summer institute (attracting more than 350 teachers per summer) is structured to increase teacher STEM-teaching capacity. With a desire to move to a place-based approach (e.g., leveraging STEM resources in the local community), we sought to establish the perceptions and practices of the teachers who attend our summer institute, as well as the impact of the institute. Of particular interest was how the teachers were using local resources, opportunities, and people to support their STEM teaching. Our results show preinstitute averages for a range of measures with significant increases postinstitute. We also found a range of engagement in place-based STEM practices. Implications and recommendations are provided.

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