Social Sciences: STEM Education

Department: Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

Supervising Faculty Member: Jennifer Maeng

Specialization: STEM Education

Research Focus: You will be working on two project related to STEM education. One project assesses professional development that helps Virginia K-8 teachers teach science through problem-based learning. In this project, we're examining the changes in teachers' content knowledge and practices and student achievement following the professional development using qualitative and quantitative methods. We’re also looking at what teachers create as a result of participating in the program (e.g. unit/lesson plans). The second project uses qualitative methods to understand the experiences of undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields at UVa with a specific focus on the SEAS experience in 2017-18.

Position Description: You will be asked to (1) collect and analyze teacher and student data (e.g. survey responses, interview data, focus group data, student and teacher assessments, unit/lesson plans, observations of professional development), (2) review relevant educational literature, and (3) participate in research team meetings.

Required skills: You should be professional, punctual, responsible, and possess a natural curiosity for learning about K-16 STEM education. It is also important that you be meticulous with data. You will learn the rest of the skills as you work on the project.

Computer software: It would be helpful if you are knowledgeable of Microsoft Excel. We will teach you how to use statistical software to analyze data.

Training/certification: Because you will be working with data from people you will need to complete human subjects (CITI) training. See: http://www.virginia.edu/vpr/irb/sbs/training.html

What you will learn: Through working on these projects, it is my hope that you will learn:
1) the fundamentals of rigorous social science research;
2) the importance of assessment in improving K-16 STEM teaching and learning,
3) contextual influences on students’ persistence in STEM,
4) strategies that educators can use to help teachers improve their teaching.

Department: Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Policy