Co-designing for Parental Presence in Middle School STEM

How can teachers engage families in the co-design of curricular practices to promote parental engagement and improve STEM outcomes for middle school students of color?

Racial gaps in academic achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) persist despite decades of reform efforts. Parent involvement in school has a positive effect on children’s academic performance, but traditional models of involvement can inhibit engagement among parents of color through barriers like deficit-oriented stereotyping of families of color and alienating interactions with school personnel. This study posits that by transforming how teachers perceive and support engagement by parents of color, STEM classroom cultures can provide more equitable learning opportunities for youth of color. Tan and Calabrese Barton will draw on established research-practice partnerships in Michigan and North Carolina to engage families in developing asset-based approaches to STEM education that value the traditions and experiences of families of color. Alongside teachers, parents, and school leaders, the research team will map parental and community assets relevant to STEM (e.g., stories about how families garden or farm to innovate or solve ecological problems) and pilot STEM curriculum units in 6th grade classrooms. Using a design-based implementation research strategy, the research team will then analyze data collected across the design cycles to refine their intervention model for how to facilitate the collaboration process between parents and teachers to adapt STEM curriculum. The study will produce a model of guiding principles and tools for how school districts can fully engage parents of color in middle school STEM teaching and learning using an asset-based approach.

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