Research on the Integration of Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computational Thinking in Rural Elementary Teacher Professional Development and Effects on Practice (EMPOWER)

Project Period:  January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2022

Target Audience: Science and Mathematics Teachers, Grade 4

Funding Source:  National Science Foundation (Grant #1933717)

Funding Amount: $647,206

Project Description:

This project will provide professional development for fourth grade teachers in rural elementary schools who teach both mathematics and science.  The project focus is on the development and implementation of strong integrated science, engineering, mathematics, and Computational Thinking (CT) lessons. Teachers will participate in professional development during the first summer focused on content, pedagogy, and the integration of STEM CT.  Teachers will be supported during the first school year through coaching while implementing project-designed units using a STEM CT Integration Framework.  During the second summer teachers will create their own units for implementation the following school year.  Project staff will also support this integration through coaching during the second school year.  The project team will research changes in teacher practice as well as self-efficacy when planning and implementing STEM CT curriculum.  The project team will also research how students’ CT dispositions change when they are taught with an integrated STEM CT curriculum.

Project Goals:

  1. Increase rural elementary teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge regarding CT characteristics and dispositions.
  2. Increase rural elementary teachers’ confidence in integrating CT concepts as part of transdisciplinary lessons that include mathematics, science, and CT.
  3. Improve student awareness of and skill with CT characteristics and dispositions.

Research Questions:

  1. To what extent do elementary teachers’ practices shift and self-efficacy change when they create and implement an integrated curriculum that includes CT concepts, Science and Engineering Practices and Mathematics Practices? 
  2. How do elementary student CT dispositions change with the implementation of an integrated curriculum that includes CT concepts, Science and Engineering practices and Mathematics Practices? 


Paula K. Leach, Ed.D., ITTIP, Director

Ben Campbell, Ph.D., Longwood University, Science                       

Virginia V. Lewis, Ph.D., Longwood University, Mathematics

Stephanie Playton, Ph. D. , ITTIP, STEM Specialist

Evaluator:             David Reider, Education Design