Preparing Responsive Educators using Place-Based Authentic Research in Earth Systems (PREPARES)
More than 750 indigenous middle school students from Alaska and Hawaii are engaged in learning about place-based, culturally responsive climate changes of critical interest to their Elders, and about the STEM careers that give back to their communities.
This project expands, implements and conducts research on a previously developed framework for providing indigenous students with the workforce skills and knowledge needed for future Earth system science careers. The framework proven effective for Inupiat students during the NSF/ITEST-funded Arctic Climate Modeling Program (ESI-0525277) will be scaled up to develop culturally responsive STEM instruction for 1500 Yup'ik and Native Hawaiian middle school students and their 60 teachers. The multifaceted scale-up project includes: a broader research setting, more school districts, diverse indigenous cultures, additional STEM workforce practices, and a broader expert pool. The goal of the scale-up is to answer the research question, "Under what circumstances are the PREPARES framework for offering culturally responsive STEM instruction effective in increasing indigenous student disposition toward participating in future Earth system science careers?" Student objectives include assessing three indicators of student disposition toward STEM careers: (a) STEM academic achievement, (b) interest in STEM careers, and (c) STEM workforce skill readiness. Teacher objectives related to program sustainability include increasing educator STEM content knowledge and pedagogical strategies aligned with STEM workforce practices. Research by randomized controlled trial will determine framework transferability and identify circumstances and steps needed to expand its adoption to a broader array of U.S. schools. This project is a professional development program for non-Native teachers of indigenous students. The project offers training that helps teachers provide culturally responsive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction in areas, such as Alaska and Hawaii, that support strong indigenous populations, but where the vast majority of teachers are non-Native. The research component will gather data and information that will advance the understanding of a framework for broadening indigenous participation in STEM study and careers. The activity targets middle school students because research indicates that middle school is a time when engagement in STEM studies begins to decline. Encouraging indigenous students to view completing high school as a step toward STEM careers is important because Native students compose a high percentage of the dropout population in Alaska and Hawaii. Culturally responsive STEM training is needed because many STEM teachers enter their preparation programs with little or no inter-cultural experience and with beliefs and assumptions that undermine the goal of providing an equal education for all students.