EdD Graduate Dissertation Research Published

EdD graduate Janine Twaddle and Associate Professor of Education-Methodology, Doctoral Studies in Education Tamarah Smith, PhD recently has their work published in the International Journal for Multidisciplinary Perspective in Higher Education.

Their research, titled STEM Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Perspective Teachers, addresses the nation’s growing need to produce more graduates with the required 21st-century skills that help them to remain top competitors in a global marketplace. The required skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and cross-cultural awareness.

STEM includes the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and is an interdisciplinary approach to learning through real-world applications. Many, if not all, of the fastest growing careers require STEM skills and an education in STEM can be effective in promoting the 21st-century abilities that employers desire. For educators to successfully teach STEM, they need STEM pedagogical content knowledge.

“Students can be greatly impacted by their teachers and K-12 schools may be the first-time students are exposed to STEM education. Even if students do not pursue careers in STEM, they can benefit from the communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills gained from STEM education,” shared Janine.

Inspiration for the Research

Janine’s inspiration for her research can from the time, or lack thereof, she had when she first began as an elementary school teacher.

“I quickly discovered there is such little time in the day to teach all of the content and standards, as well as answer emails, mend student friendships, and, as the NEA’s Lily Eskelsen Garcia so eloquently stated in 2015, ‘put Band-Aids on boo-boos,’ amongst countless other tasks,” Janine said.

In an effort to gain more time, Janine began to implement STEM, project, and theme-based learning in her classroom to engage in interdisciplinary learning experiences.

In completing her research on preservice teacher preparation programs, Janine found there could be value added to explicitly teach strategies for implementing STEM and interdisciplinary content.

Benefits to the Field of Education

“The intent of this research in the field of education was to determine the STEM pedagogical content knowledge and to identify any gaps in STEM pedagogical content knowledge in preservice teachers. Based on the findings in the study, we hope colleges and universities considering including explicit STEM and interdisciplinary course requirements into teacher preparation programs,” said Janine.

Writing and Publishing Process

STEM Pedagogical Content Knowledge of Preservice Teachers was written based off of Janine’s dissertation work.

When beginning the process, she began by gathering current, historic, and relevant information on STEM education and pedagogical content knowledge. She continued her research throughout the entire dissertation writing process.

“Writing and editing were also a continuous process. Writing the dissertation was an exciting, engaging, and, at time, an overwhelming process. My advice is to keep your research organized, set deadlines for your progress, and welcome feedback,” shared Janine.

The first step of the publishing process was to research journals that had the potential to be interested in Janine’s topic, and to submit the work for consideration. Once her work was considered, the journal required some editing prior to publishing.

“Dr. Tamarah Smith, my advisor and coauthor, was a wonderful resource throughout the process. The writing and publishing process taught me a lot and I look forward to publishing again,” said Janine.