Students in Finland have a reputation for doing well on international assessments in science and mathematics, an accomplishment that has long been of interest to educators and policy-makers here in the U.S. A new research collaboration between the two countries is aimed at advancing the best ideas from both sides of the ocean, with the goal of bringing new innovations to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in environments from kindergarten through undergraduate education.
One of the eight projects, brings together researchers from the University of Washington, Oregon State University, and Turku Univeristy in Finland. Their goal? To bring new innovations to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in envi! ronments from kindergarten through undergraduate education.
All three institutions have developed innovative learning systems where students take the role of practicing professionals (e.g., as an environmental scientist or a semiconductor process engineer) where they are encouraged to use the "language" and "practices" of the discipline to "get somewhere" (develop a product, improve a process, gain a better understanding of a phenomenon) over time. At the Unviersity of Washington, PI Dr. Susan Nolen is working alongside Dr. John Bransford, Diem Nguyen, Gavin Tierney, and Susan Cooper. Oregon State brings Dr. Milo Koretsky and his post-doc, Debra Gilbuena, to the work. Dr. Marja Vauras and Dr. Erno Lehtinen represent the University of Turku.
The collaborative partnership will allow the research team to better understand the nature of engagement in such complex STEM learning environments and to use the understandi! ng to develop methods for creating more effective authentic learning systems that function across many settings and contexts. The contexts also represent cases where students are at risk and might leave paths into STEM careers. The collaboration will yield important insights into increasing the participation and retention of students in the STEM fields.