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Buffalo Public School students engaged in science class

Published March 6, 2018

Improving STEM education for students in high needs schools

Examining school leadership and STEM implementation and enactment in high needs secondary schools

Noemi Waight, associate professor from the Department of Learning and Instruction, is partnering with the Buffalo Public Schools to conduct research at their Research Laboratory Program for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. Waight is examining the role of school leadership and its impact on technology-supported, inquiry-based approaches in science education classrooms. The collaboration is part of the UB Graduate School of Education Faculty in Residence Program.

Typically, research on science education reform focuses on teachers, students and their classroom interactions. However, current research on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education reform is also exploring school leaders and the impact of their decisions on learning. These decisions can often cause conditions which discourage students interested in pursuing STEM fields. “These conditions which limit opportunities for quality STEM experiences at the high school level reinforce the urgency to examine how school leadership informs models of STEM classroom practice,” said Waight.

In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the impact of school leader decision-making on science education classrooms, Waight will collaborate with science teachers to specifically address inquiry-based unit lesson design, development and enactment. She will also model technology-supported, inquiry-based enactment by teaching a unit that will be videotaped. “These videotapes will be used by science teachers to facilitate ongoing discussion and reflection,” said Waight, “and will serve as a platform to examine the successes and challenges of inquiry-based implementation.”

The Faculty in Residence Program is an initiative designed to engage GSE faculty and local community-based educational institutions in site-based, mutually beneficial research-based projects. Projects must demonstrate clear benefits to the community and may include a wide-range of researchable topics.

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