|M.Sc Student||Matathia Tor Hrisilda|
|Subject||Attitudes Toward STEM Teaching and Assessment Methods:|
Policy Makers and Teachers
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Yehudit Dori|
|Full Thesis text|
The objectives of the Ministry of Education in Israel have varied in the last few years, to keep up with the changes in technology and science in our lives. The Israeli Ministry of Education has been trying to align the objectives for the future graduates to the demands of 21st century society. For the last three decades, the emphasis in science education has been shifting from acquiring knowledge to acquiring skills.
In our research, we wanted to find out what are the preferable teaching and assessment methods of middle and high school policy makers and science teachers. The derived research questions were:
(1) What teaching and assessment methods in STEM education do teachers and policy makers prefer, and for what reasons?
(2) What are the similarities and differences between the various stakeholders regarding teaching and assessment methods in STEM education?
The participants (N=125) were policy makers and STEM teachers. Policy makers include a principal, vice principals, a pedagogical advisor and senior science teachers, who teach in middle and high schools in the northern part of Israel. A sample of them (N=9) were interviewed to find out their attitudes toward different teaching and assessment methods. These stakeholders decide what kind of teaching and assessment methods will be conducted throughout the academic year. Following the interviews, a questionnaire was designed for the stakeholders (N=116). They were asked to choose, explain and give examples of the teaching and assessment methods they prefer and use most frequently throughout the academic year.
Policy makers’ and STEM teachers' responses were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Most stakeholders stated that they mainly use traditional methods when teaching in class. The teaching method that came second was class discussions. This method has the potential to lead students to use higher order thinking skills. The stakeholders' attitudes toward assessment methods came as no surprise; most of them preferred by far traditional assessment methods, although policy makers had more positive attitudes toward interactive teaching and alternative assessment methods. These findings lead us to recommendations regarding the needs for more integration of interactive teaching and alternative assessment methods so that one fits the other and that the teaching and the assessment the students are exposed to will be more varied and accountable.
We found significant differences while comparing between middle and high school teachers and when comparing between mathematics and the other science disciplines.
From the practical point of view, the answers to the research questions bring all the stakeholders’ voices and help define characteristics of attitudes toward teaching and assessment methods. Closing the gap between the Ministry of Education recommendations and the current status of teaching and assessment methods might influence students' learning and motivation in choosing and later studying science and mathematics disciplines in their high schools and higher education.
The theoretical contribution of this study lies in adding to the body of knowledge pertaining to interactive teaching and alternative assessment methods.