University of Latvia (LATVIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 7220-7226
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.1717
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
In 2016, the general education reform with an aim to develop 21st century skills was introduced in Latvia. The improvement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education was a priority for education reform not only in Latvia, but also elsewhere. In 2015 only 5,2 percent of Latvian students were top performers at levels 5 or 6 on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessment in mathematics and 3,8 percent in science. The government of Latvia has made it a priority to increase scores on the PISA assessment, especially its percent of top performers, as an indicator of the quality of education received by Latvian children.

The research started with the analysis of 3th and 6th grade student large-scale assessment results in mathematics and science. The cognitive level of assessment items were measured according to the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy. The analysis indicated that students have poor performance in tasks with a higher level of cognitive demand and in situations, where students needed to apply knowledge and skills in new contexts.

Based on theoretical models for integrated STEM education described in the literature and the revised general education curriculum in Latvia (2018), specialised and coherent curriculum for 4th to 6th grade students “STEM Masterminds” was created. “STEM Masterminds” aimed to complement the curriculum of the formal education. The duration of the program is 3 years. The curriculum is based on the principle of modules. It consists of science, mathematics and programming lessons. Lessons for students take place twice a week and are 120 minutes long. Engineering design process for primary school curriculum is one of innovations for STEM education and “STEM Masterminds” is the base to create these innovations. One of the goals of the curriculum was to enable purposeful and early development of engineering design-based learning and integrate it with learning science, mathematics and programming, including robotics. The case study of “STEM Masterminds” covered the analysis of the literature, context, curriculum and student and teachers survey and interviews.

Student and teacher views on ways how engineering design model is integrated in robotics were collected through a survey and interviews.

As the results of the case study analysis demonstrated, such curriculum as “STEM Masterminds” is an effective way for students to learn about the links between the science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It also contributes to the development of student cognitive activity, thus increasing the number of students who can perform tasks in higher cognitive level. The piloting also show that it is possible to realize the curriculum both to formal, as well as informal educational setting to complement the base curriculum of the formal education, thus indicating the broad possibilities for its use and linking formal and informal education.
Cognitive Demand, Integrated STEM, Engineering Design, Informal Education.