REVISITING CHARACTER EDUCATION FOR STEM EDUCATION MODELS
1 State University of NY College at Old Westbury/Science and Technology Entry Program (UNITED STATES)
2 State University of NY College at Old Westbury (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Character education is an important component of science education. The nature of that integration both in terms of instruction and assessment varies. Over the summer for the past two years, the Science and Technology Entry Program of the State University of NY College at Old Westbury has developed a blended-learning model for effectively integrating character in a more fundamental way. A project-based research inquiry was undertaken to explore the relationship of nutrient concentration to the growth of algae cultures. The student-directed teams each investigated the concentration effects for their assigned nutrient(s). During the four-week period of the past summer program, the blended-learning environment coordinated the use of a Moodle platform largely as a student-directed/managed online learning space; a student-response system to facilitate some aspects of the learning assessment, including a weekly quiz bowl; and mbl (microcomputer-based laboratory) technologies to assist with experimental design and subsequent measurement/data acquisition and conceptual interpretation. The overall performance assessment of the students included three components: the content score, the process skills score, and the character score. The research inquiry pedagogical approach and the nature of the assessment readily facilitated the purposive inclusion of character elements, many of which fall under the general category of ethics, such as, acknowledging the research discoveries of teammates and/or other classmates, considering the environmental impacts of their research activities, and conformance with laboratory safety standards as a conscious means to safeguard themselves and others. This formal introduction of a character component to the overall assessment produced a remarkable preliminary outcome of this study, particularly for the team-based assessments, in that there were notable correlations between the content-based and character-based performances. These preliminary findings support the integration of character education not as a marginally added element to the pedagogy of the learning environment but as a more prominent feature, both for the development of scientific literacy among the general populace and the growth of the next generation of professionals in science fields.
Keywords: STEM education, science ethics, character education, research-based education.