Evans, M. A., Lopez, M., Maddox, D., Drape, T., & Duke, R. (2014). Interest-driven learning among middle school youth in an out-of-school STEM studio. Journal of Science Education Technology, 23(5), 624–640. doi:10.1007/s10956-014-9490-z
In this paper investigates how intentionally designed features of an out-of-school time program,< a href= http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/studiostem> Studio STEM, influenced middle school youths’ engagement in their learning. The authors took a connected learning approach, using new media to support peer interaction and engagement with an engineering design challenge in an open and flexible learning environment.
Buchholz, B., Shively, K., Peppler, K., & Wohlwend, K. (2014). Hands on, hands off: Gendered access in crafting and electronics practices. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 21(4), 278–297. doi:10.1080/10749039.2014.939762
In order to reframe how learning is organized in traditionally male-dominated areas of STEM education, the authors show how collaborative girl-boy pairs engaged with an “e-textiles” making activity. E-textiles are circuit activities combining needles, fabric, and conductive thread, challenging traditional gender practices related to both sewing and electronics.
Bathgate, M. E., Schunn, C. D., & Correnti, R. (2014). Children’s motivation toward science across contexts, manner of interaction, and topic. Science Education, 98(2), 189–215. doi:10.1002/sce.21095
Bathgate, Schunn, and Correnti investigate students’ motivation toward science across three dimensions: the context or setting, the way in which students interact with science materials or ideas, and the activity topic. Findings point to the importance of understanding children’s perceptions of specific science topics, not just science in general.
Blank, R. K. (2013). Science instructional time is declining in elementary schools: What are the implications for student achievement and closing the gap? Science Education, 97(6), 830–847. doi:10.1002/sce.21078
For over a decade, science educators have lamented the ways in which testing in reading and mathematics has reduced time for science instruction. Blank used 20 years of national teacher and student data to understand how time allocated to science instruction combines with student demographics to shape test scores. The study found a small but significant positive relationship between time on science instruction and performance.
Morehouse, H. (2009). Making the most of the middle: A strategic model for middle school afterschool programs. Afterschool Matters, 8, 1–10.
This paper summarizes key design elements for programs for middle-school-aged children, addressing issues of relationships, relevance, reinforcement, real-life projects, and rigor. The authors argue that these five components take into account the intellectual and emotional developmental needs of this age range.
Mallya, A., Mensah, F. M., Contento, I. R., Koch, P. A., & Calabrese Barton, A. (2012). Extending science beyond the classroom door: Learning from students’ experiences with the Choice, Control, and Change (C3) curriculum. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(2), 244–269.
This paper explores how a school-day science and nutrition curriculum, Choice, Control and Change (C3), shaped student thinking, decision making, and actions outside the classroom. The curriculum taught health science content and engaged students in activities focused on analyzing and changing their personal health choices.
Johnson, C. C. (2011). The road to culturally relevant science: Exploring how teachers navigate change in pedagogy. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 170–198.
This article reports on a case study of two middle school science teachers who took part in professional development designed to help them enact culturally relevant pedagogy in their classrooms. The long-term and community-oriented aspects of the professional development seemed to play a vital role in supporting the teachers’ success.
Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E., & Rivet, A. (2008). Creating hybrid spaces for engaging school science among urban middle school girls. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 68–103. doi:10.3102/0002831207308641
Calabrese Barton, Tan, and Rivet provide valuable insights on supporting girls (and young people generally) as they negotiate the practices of formal science learning, establish learning identities, and engage with science. Analysis of rich ethnographic data shows how middle school girls created hybrid spaces between school and home that enabled them to draw on funds of knowledge in order to participate fully in school science.
Barton, A. C., & Tan, E. (2009). Funds of knowledge and discourse and hybrid space. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 50–73.
This design experiment integrated students’ everyday discourses and knowledge into classroom scientific practice, thereby allowing for the creation of hybrid spaces, where students were able to meaningfully apply science learning to their everyday lives. This research shows that providing students with opportunities to co-author their learning can engage students more deeply.
Jurow, A. S. (2005). Shifting engagements in figured worlds: Middle school mathematics students' participation in an architectural design project. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 14(1), 35–67. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1401_3
In-class projects can be an effective way for students to learn subject material that relates to authentic problems people address outside of classrooms. Jurow investigated middle-schoolers’ participation in an in-school math project based on the premise of creating a research station in Antarctica. Students’ engagement with the project and meaning making with math content shifted as students navigated through the different and often competing figured worlds of the classroom and “Antarctica.”