"The Ohio STEM Learning Network: A Study of Factors Affecting Implementation, Spread and Sustainability" is a National Science foundation funded project at the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE). CEMSE is collaborating with the Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy (BC) in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University with cooperation of the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN). This study examines the factors affecting the implementation, spread and sustainability of innovative STEM teaching and learning at the secondary school level. OSLN is a statewide network-oriented collaborative of partners from preK-12 education, higher education and business and industry in the state of Ohio. This study focuses on one portion of OSLN's effort – the Platform Schools Initiative which is supported by local and state resources and philanthropy including the Battelle Memorial Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This initiative's goal is to help launch and connect five STEM secondary schools strategically placed in key economic and cultural regions of the state. These schools have diverse designs, but must reflect a set of shared design principles (determined in part by legislation) and engage in a network that supports sharing practices and building knowledge.
This study grows out of CEMSE and BC's prior work aimed at understanding the mechanisms of innovation in STEM education. CEMSE currently has two National Science Foundation (NSF) supported studies, with the first, a REESE project, focused on identifying the factors that contribute to or inhibit the spread and sustainability of innovations in education. That study has included a review of literature on STEM education, as well as literature on education in general, health, business, marketing and economics. See Sustainability Project for more information or visit RWB's Sustaining Innovation Project Page.
CEMSE's also has another NSF project that has developed a suite of instruments for measuring fidelity of implementation (FOI) of science and mathematics instructional materials and has expanded that work to create tools for measuring and describing enactment of other types of educational innovations. For more information see the Fidelity of Implementation Project or go to the Researchers Without Borders Measuring Enactment Project.
The Battelle Center's work, in place since 2007, has focused on the role of knowledge and management networks in the planning, implementation and sustainability of STEM-focused secondary school initiatives in Ohio. These studies have included a review of literature on 'public-private management networks' and structured interviews with key informants from the STEM schools, the collaborating institutions of higher education and corporate partners statewide. This study builds on these previous works and seeks to answer to the following questions:
Historically, goals for STEM education in school have ranged from increasing populations of scientists in order retain the United States' competitive edge, to improving ordinary citizens' understandings of the roles of science and technology in society. Now, the ability of the United States to compete globally is a pressing and immediate issue (Kuenzi, 2008). However, in the interest of racing to the top, the importance of engaging all of our citizens in STEM learning is sometimes overlooked. If we are to be a competitive and literate society, we need to ensure that all citizens understand the practices and processes of STEM so that those who would be scientists and engineers can follow that path and the rest of our population can be healthy, well-informed, participatory citizens. The Platform Schools initiative, which includes whole-school STEM models, collaboration networks, and public, private and foundation support provides a timely opportunity to further our collective understanding of what STEM education can and should be and how to support its development.
The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN) is a collaborative network aimed at building and connecting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching and learning capacity in regions across the State of Ohio. At its core, the OSLN is focused on student and teacher success. The collaborative involves a large array of partners from Pre-K-12 education, higher education and business and industry. Funded by a $12 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an initial $2.8 million investment from Battelle, OSLN was designed with a systems engineering approach to "develop and connect a state-wide system of innovative secondary STEM schools and Programs of Excellence (STEM K-8 programs) and leverage the ongoing work of regions across the state." (Battelle, 2007). OSLN's network-based strategy focuses on a state-level public-private partnership that includes Battelle, the Ohio Partnership for Continued Learning, the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy, Cleveland Foundation, as well as the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) and many business, philanthropy and higher education partners involved at the regional hubs.
Platform Schools: This study focuses on the central component of the OSLN work, the Platform Schools Initiative. The 'platform' label signals OSLN's intention that each STEM school become (a) a demonstration platform for innovative and effective practices in STEM teaching and learning and school governance, (b) both the catalyst and venue for novel and distinctive forms of multi-sector partnerships and (c) a node in the regional and statewide STEM innovation infrastructure. Each school, in other words, is to be a 'small school with a big footprint' (Battelle 2007). More about the OSLN Platform schools can be found here.
This initiative received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to help launch and connect five STEM secondary schools strategically placed in key economic and cultural regions of the state (Akron, Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus). These schools are required to reflect a set of shared design principles (see discussion in "School Level Data Collection) determined in part by Ohio's H.B. 119, but still have very diverse designs due to regional variations and differences in context. Each school has a unique approach, but is expected to share those practices that can spread from one to another and build knowledge about the principles they share. This approach is well suited to CEMSE's FOI work, which is built on a model of using a common framework to articulate similarities and differences between interventions (in this case, the model used at each STEM school) and measuring the ways the common elements are similar and different in their enactment.
CEMSE staff will publish technical reports and project briefs as the work progresses. These reports and project briefs will be found here.
Facilitating open research and collaborative problem solving is an important element of our research work at CEMSE. To further this goal, CEMSE researchers created Researchers Without Borders (RWB), an online community for practitioners and researchers to share information, knowledge, resources, and most importantly to collaborate to solve shared problems. Related to the Ohio STEM Learning Network project, we created two RWB project pages Networks and Education and Understanding STEM Schools as well as a STEM Community Group.
To view data visualizations on STEM schools, click here.