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PISA2 Profile

Partnership to Improve Student Achievement in Physical Sciences: Integrating STEM Approaches (PISA2)


This project, led by Stevens Institute of Technology, in partnership with St. Peter's College, Columbia University and 12 geographically, socio-economically and academically diverse school districts throughout New Jersey, aims to improve student achievement in physical sciences in grades 3-8 and increase the quantity, quality and diversity of teachers who are prepared to teach physical science. In addition, the partnership focuses on developing students' 21st century skills, in particular problem-solving, innovation and creativity, by embedding problem-based learning approaches into five new courses in the teacher certification programs. The courses blend engineering design with the mastery of science and mathematics concepts by focusing on three major topic areas as identified by the AAAS Benchmarks for science literacy: the physical setting, the designed world, and the nature of technology. The courses are correlated with the 2009 New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in science, which have an interdisciplinary STEM approach and a problem-based learning emphasis. Each of the five courses will be introduced through the perspective of a contemporary issue in which science and engineering play a paramount role, such as energy consumption and climate change. Scientific inquiry and the engineering design process are embedded within each course and are used as vehicles to promote 21st Century Skills, particularly problem-solving, innovation and creativity.

Over the five years of the project, 400 in-service teachers, 50 STEM undergraduates (preservice teachers) and 120 school and district administrators will benefit from the partnership's primary programs: 1) a new, five-course graduate certificate program, 2) intensive professional development programs leveraging graduate course content, 3) school-year workshops and monthly classroom visits, 4) a Pathways to Teaching Option for science and engineering undergraduates, 5) leadership training/strategic planning/organizational capacity building for district and higher education partners, and 6) science scope & sequence and curriculum workshops. In addition, the partnership creates an extended faculty community at the lead institution, Stevens Institute of Technology, extending a learning community known as Research & Innovation in Engineering Education, thereby formalizing faculty development pathways to the designation of Master Teacher and providing credit in Stevens' promotion and tenure process for participation in related activities.