Addressing Technology Standards: An Analysis of STEM Lesson Plans

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1 Addressing Technology Standards: An Analysis of STEM Lesson Plans Bettie HALL, M.Ed. Michelle L. DANIEL, M.Ed. College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH and Karen C. DAVIS, Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH ABSTRACT Project STEP (Science and Technology Enhancement Program) is a joint program of the National Science Foundation and the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. The program partners graduate students from engineering, science, mathematics, and education with university faculty and area high school teachers to develop authentic, problembased learning experiences for high school students. The lessons are reviewed by involved faculty, teachers, and grant evaluation coordinators to ensure they meet academic content standards adopted by the Ohio Department of Education. The lessons are then presented on the Project STEP web site ( They represent a valuable repository of STEM curricula aligned with science, mathematics, and technology standards as a benefit to K-12 educators seeking standards-based, authentic, problem-solving lessons they can readily incorporate into their classrooms. In this paper, we look at the STEP lessons as a whole for the first time to analyze how they are distributed with respect to technology The results indicate that one-third of the lessons posted on the web site meet one or more technology standards, and contain the kind of authentic, problem-solving content needed to engage and interest students in the STEM areas. Only one of the seven technology standards, technology and communication applications, was not addressed. Future work with the Fellows may thus need to address how their lessons can address the standard. Keywords: technology standards, STEM lesson plans, Project STEP 1. INTRODUCTION Project STEP partners the University of Cincinnati with local public high schools to select Graduate Fellows to develop authentic learning experiences designed to interest and inspire high school students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In the four years of its existence, Project STEP Fellows have produced more than 80 lessons. These lessons are reviewed by faculty, teachers, and grant evaluation coordinators to ensure they meet standards developed by the Ohio Department of Education [1]. These standards are aligned with those developed by national and international organizations to ensure consistency, relevance, and applicability across borders. Once the lessons have been developed and delivered by teachers and participants, evaluated by faculty and the grant evaluation coordinators, and documented, they are posted on the project s web site as a means of disseminating and preserving these learning activities. These lessons represent a rich knowledge repository that is founded on the science, mathematical, engineering, and technology expertise of the graduate students who designed the lessons, and can be especially valuable to educators who lack access to such expertise. All of the lessons have engineering content and are typically taught in a math or science classroom. However, since there are no technology classrooms, we investigate how many lessons meet technology standards, as distinguished from just the science, mathematics, or other We also wanted to know which technology standards the lessons met. In addition to these questions, we wanted to disseminate knowledge about the existence of these lessons, as well as identify areas for future work. To accomplish these objectives, an analysis of the lessons was performed and a frequency table developed that shows how the lessons are distributed among the technology standards, and which of the standards were addressed by which lessons. This paper is organized into sections. In Section 1, we have provided an overview of Project STEP at the University of Cincinnati and the process by which lessons are developed, reviewed, and presented. Section 2 provides additional background on Project STEP, while

2 Section 3 focuses on the STEP lessons, along with illustrations of a sample lesson. Section 4 describes the national standards that provide the foundation for the Ohio standards, which are detailed in Section 5. The analysis is described in Section 6, and Section 7 provides conclusions and recommendations for future work. 2. BACKGROUND ON PROJECT STEP Through Project STEP at the University of Cincinnati, engineering, science, and mathematics graduate Fellows work with university faculty and high school math and science teachers to develop authentic, hands-on learning activities for high school students. This allows the Fellows to bring research expertise from their fields of engineering or science into the classroom in the form of learning activities that give high school students handson, real-world experiences. Project STEP Fellows are trained by Education faculty in a sequence of graduate courses that cover topics including classroom management techniques, lesson planning, instructional delivery, state and national standards, and assessment of student learning. Field practicum allows the Fellows to observe teachers classroom styles and become acquainted with school cultures that may be very different from their own experiences. The Fellows work on STEP activities for approximately 20 hours per week and spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in a high school classroom. Fellows design, develop, implement and assess lessons throughout the school year and conduct annual workshops for teachers to disseminate their results and share their STEM expertise. This type of collaboration benefits not only the Fellows, who gain valuable teaching experience and share their expertise, and not just the educators who participate in the delivery of the lessons, as well as those who use the lessons that have already been developed in their own classrooms. The main beneficiaries are the high school students who comprise the intended audience of these activities and who obtain real-world, hands-on experiences with engineering concepts. As a result of these kinds of outreach experiences and the role modeling offered by the graduate Fellows, more high school students may consider future careers in engineering, mathematics, or other sciences and help meet the nation s growing needs for scientists and engineers [2, 3]. 3. STEP LESSONS More than 80 lessons have been developed by 32 past and current STEP Fellows, and are documented and published on the project STEP web site. To assist teachers in finding appropriate lesson plans, STEP lessons are categorized into eight topics ranging from biology to physics, and into grade levels 7 through 12, as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1. Sample listing of Project STEP lessons for the 11th grade. The documentation requirements for STEP lessons are designed to increase reusability and adaptability of the lessons. The requirements for lessons and activities developed for Project STEP includes the target STEM classroom and grade, relationship to engineering, multimedia used, background information, relationship to standards, handouts with answer keys, student work samples, pre- and post-assessment, and Fellows reflections. To illustrate how a lesson follows this template, as well as how it is presented on the Project STEP web site, a partial view of one of the lesson plans titled, Refraction n Action, developed by graduate Fellow Michelle Daniel, is provided in Figure 2. Figure 2. Sample Project STEP lesson.

3 The template requires that the academic content standards met by the lesson are documented in a separate section, and are referenced by Standard, Benchmark, and if appropriate, grade level indicator, as shown in the excerpt from the same lesson shown in Figure 3. Figure 3. Sample lesson referencing technology The Fellows posted the lessons and any additional information on their professional portfolio web site, in addition to the STEP web site. 4. BACKGROUND ON NATIONAL STANDARDS The United States is facing a future in which increasing the number of college graduates appears to be a requirement for retaining a competitive position in a global economy. Recent reports on the impact of current education in the U.S. call for drastically increasing the quantity and quality of American college graduates especially in the mathematics, science, and engineering areas [ ]. Building lesson activities that incorporate state-of-the-art engineering knowledge and packaging them for use in K-12 classrooms could play a significant role in enhancing student learning and stimulating interest in the sciences behind the technologies. However, such incorporation is often difficult for teachers in the U.S. The time, expertise, and access to technologies and laboratory facilities present just some of the barriers to discovering, learning, and then teaching current concepts. Despite the barriers, the need to interest and engage our nation s children in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is critical. The Educational Testing Service s Policy Information Center recently released a report titled America s Perfect Storm, which cites changing demographics, a shifting economic climate, and declining levels of literacy as forces that threaten the future prospects of American children. Despite the educational reforms of the past few years, national test results for K-12 students show no evidence of improvement over the last 20 years. Scores are flat and achievement gaps persist [5]. This and other recent reports [4] increase the impetus to better prepare teachers to implement strategies in K-12 instruction that result in improvements in student learning across socio-economic, cultural, and language boundaries, particularly in math, science, and technology content areas. The creation of national technology standards has been one response to this critical need. The International Society for Technology in Education, an organization of educators, researchers, and policy-makers, established in 1993 a set of national educational technology That initial effort has now grown into three sets of standards, the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students, NETS for Teachers, and NETS for Administrators. Nearly all states have either adopted these standards, or have aligned their own standards with the ISTE Other organizations that have developed technology standards include the American Association of School Libraries and the Association of Educational Comunications and Technologies (AASL/AECT), and The International Technology Education Association (ITEA). The Ohio Technology Standard are either directly aligned or connected to these standards, as they were designed to address all four of the technological literacies [1, 7]. 5. OHIO TECHNOLOGY STANDARDS The Ohio Academic standards published at the Ohio Department of Education web site ( were developed in 1997 in response to the need for clear definitions of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. In particular, the standards met the requirements of Amended Substitute Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law in 2001 by Governor Bob Taft as part of his education reform in Ohio that called for clear, reasonable standards, aligned instruction and intervention, and fair measurements. The current version of the technology standards, which was the last of the content areas to be developed and which were adopted in 2003, comprise nine categories: Early Learning, English/Language Arts, Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, Library, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Technology. These standards specify what content is to be taught at each grade level, but they do not specify how the content is to be taught. Three of the nine content areas for which standards have been developed in Ohio are mathematics, science, and technology. It is worth noting that technology was not, for purposes of defining these standards, considered an integral or inseparable component of either mathematics or science. Thus, this analysis of STEP lessons that meet technology standards excludes those lessons that reference only standards from other areas, even though they may contain elements that meet or parallel technology standards and that may well serve an educator s need in a technological area. The Ohio technology standards document the definitions,

4 benchmarks, and grade level indicators that comprehensively address four types of literacy-- computer, multimedia, information, and technological-- rather than targeting each of these separately. Technological literacy targets those areas where technology, mathematics, and science intersect [1]. Within each standard are defined benchmarks for each grade band, such as K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and Within the benchmark are grade level indicators that are different for each grade. Benchmarks are checkpoints that can be used to monitor student progress toward achievement of a standard, while indicators are what students should know and be able to do at each grade level [1]. For example, there are three benchmarks for Standard 1 for grade bands Benchmark A for the 9-12 grade band specifies that students should be able to synthesize information, evaluate and make decisions about technologies (p. 67); Benchmark B specifies that students should be able to apply technological knowledge in decision-making (p. 68); Benchmark C specifies that students should be able to examine the synergy between and among technologies and other fields of study when solving technological problems (p. 68). Within each grade band benchmark are grade level indicators. For example, for Standard 1, Benchmark A for grades 9-12, the Indicators for grade 9 are divided into three categories, technology diffusion, goal-directed research, and commercialization of technology. The indicator for technology diffusion, for example, states that students in grade nine should be able to list and describe factors influencing the development of technology (p. 67). Grade level indicators provide the Project STEP Fellows with criteria upon which they may formulate objectives and assessments for their lessons. The seven standards referenced by the Project STEP repository of lesson plans are summarized as follows: 1. The Nature of Technology: An understanding of technology, its characteristics, scope, core concepts, and relationships between technologies and other fields. This area contains connections with two other Ohio Science content standards the physical sciences, and the science and technology. 2. Technology and Society Interaction: Recognizing interactions among society, the environment, and technology, and understanding technology s relationship with history. This area connects with social studies standards that pertain to citizenship rights and responsibilities, and with the foreign language standard that concerns communities. 3. Technology for Productivity Applications: Learning the operations of technology through using technology and productivity tools. This standard is potentially connected with every other content area. 4. Technology and Communication Applications: Using an array of technologies and applying design concepts to communicate with multiple audiences, to acquire and disseminate information, and to enhance learning. 5. Technology and Information Literacy: Engaging in information literacy strategies, using the Internet, using technology tools and resources, and applying information-management skills to answer questions and to expand knowledge. 6. Design: Applying a number of problem-solving strategies demonstrating the nature of design, the role of engineering, and the role of assessment. This standard connects with the mathematics and science 7. Designed World: An understanding of how the physical, information, and bio-related technological systems of the designed world are brought about by the design process. The granularity of the Ohio technology standards meets the needs of educators, technology coordinators, instructional designers, and others who seek detailed information about what students should be learning at each grade level and within each topic area of technology. Assessments can thus be designed to address the achievement of students at each grade level, rather than assessing them as part of a grade band. 6. ANALYSIS The Project STEP lessons were examined to determine how many referenced a given set of technology standards, which standards were most frequently referenced, and which grade levels were mostly frequently targeted. While all the lessons are assumed to meet one or more ITEA or ISTE standards, the STEP lessons are required to specify which Ohio Standards they meet. The lessons were not required to meet Technology standards alone; the majority of them met other state standards, such as those for Science and/or Mathematics. While some overlap does occur among these, especially between the Science standards and the Technology standards, the emphasis is assumed to be primarily on the technology used in the lessons designed to meet technology To determine how the STEM lessons are meeting technology standards, all the lessons developed and posted on the Project STEP web site to date were examined and a frequency table developed. Those lessons that cited technology standards were then examined to determine which standards were met at which grade levels. Of the 82 unique STEM lessons developed and documented in the Project STEP repository, 33% (27) specified technology Of these, five lessons referenced national standards, but did not specify state standards, and for consistency were thus excluded from the lessons and standards given in Tables 1 and 2. The majority (62%) of the lessons addressed the mathematics and/or science content One lesson referenced

5 standards for grades levels 3-5, and one lesson referenced standards for grade levels 6-8; all other lessons referenced grade levels 9, 10, 11, and/or 12. All lessons referencing the same state standards were included in the analysis for consistency. A summary of the technology standards and the number of Project STEP lessons that met these standards is shown in Table 1. Technology Standard Lessons Referencing* 1. Nature of Technology 3 2. Technology and Society Interaction Technology for Productivity 4 Applications 4. Technology and Communication 0 Applications 5. Technology and Information 5 Literacy 6. Design 9 7. Designed World 4 Table 1. Frequency of lesson references to technology *Totals more than 27 because one lesson can reference more than one standard. To illustrate which lessons met the Ohio Technology standards, the grade levels at which they were delivered, and the technology standards they cited are provided in Table 2. The most frequently standard cited was Technology Standard 2, Technology and Society Interaction, with 12 lessons referencing one or more benchmarks within this standard. This is not surprising, since a STEP goal is authentic learning that fits within learners social contexts. At the other extreme, none of the lessons referenced Standard 4, Technology and Communication. This may indicate the low number of Fellows from Computer Science or Computer Engineering (three of the 32 Fellows), and may indicate a need to emphasize the importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the educational process in the development of future lessons. Technology Standard 6, Design, was referenced by nine of the lesson plans. This standard emphasizes problem-solving activities aligned with the goal of hands-on, inquiry-based lessons. Lessons referenced not only standards, but benchmarks and grade level indicators within those standards, revealing a focus on the achievement of related lesson objectives. The most frequently cited benchmark was Benchmark A of Standard 6 (Design), which for grade band 9-12 involves identifying and producing a product or system using a design process, evaluating the solution, then communicating findings. Lesson Title Grade Technology Standard 1. Boat Float Challenge 9 2, 6 2. Car Design Process 9 1, 5, 6 3. Cell Phone Modeling/ 9 6 Sketching Activity 4. Chemical Bonding and 10 2 Electrical Conductivity 5. City Transportation , 6 6. Coca Cola Challenge Elements of Design Food Production and 11 2, 5 Distribution 9. Gene Corn Project Golden Ratio Webquest 9 3, History of Design Evolution 9 1, 2 Research Project 12. It s a Nano World After All Math and Mitosis 7 2, Mega Mining Mart 9 2, 3, 6, Mystery Liquid , Mystery Material Puzzle Cube Project 9 1, Refraction-N-Action 9 7 Activity 19. The Bengals Oily Mess 11 2, The Imagine Project Toy Maker , Vectors for Everyday Life Table 2. Lessons meeting technology 7. CONCLUSIONS In this paper, we have described the need for enhancing STEM education in secondary schools. The University of Cincinnati Project STEP seeks to do this with its goal of training graduate students in science, mathematics, and engineering to become educators and to develop STEM lesson plans that showcase their technical expertise, as well as align with state and national Since the classrooms where the lessons are taught are either math or science, we investigated to what degree the Ohio technology standards were address in the online lesson repository. The analysis shows that one-third of the lessons do address technology standards, in addition to science, mathematics, and other standards, and that the goal of Project STEP to develop authentic, hands-on, inquirybased lessons for use by educators is being met. Future work includes analyzing the ratios of lessons to topic areas and content standards, as well as encouraging the Project STEP team (faculty, Fellows, coordinators, and teachers) to consider developing ICT topics.

6 REFERENCES 1. The Ohio Department of Education, Academic Content Standards: K-12 Technology, Columbus, OH: Author D. Goldston, and J. Bland, Trailing Halley s Comet: Transforming Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Through Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Higher Education, School Science and Mathematics, Vol. 102, No , pp N.R. Augustine, et al., Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, The National Academies Press, J. Glenn, Before It s Too Late: A Report to the National from the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21 st Century. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, I. Kirsch, H. Braun, K. Yamamoto, & A. Sum, America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future, Princeton, NJ: Education Testing Service, January, A. E. Barron, Kemker, K., Harmes, C. & Kalaydjian, K., "Large-scale research study on technology in K- 12 schools: Technology integration as it relates to the National Technology Standards," Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Vol. 35, 2003, pp International Society for Technology in Education, National Educational Technology Standards for Students: Connecting Curriculum and Technology, Eugene, OR: Author, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work is supported by National Science Foundation grant number # (Track I) and grant number #DGE (Track II), with matching funds from the University of Cincinnati.

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