The 4-year project, Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing and Expanding a Professional Development System (SciMath-DLL), will address a number of educational challenges. Global society requires citizens and a workforce that are literate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but many U.S. students remain ill prepared in these areas. At the same time, the children who fill U.S. classrooms increasingly speak a non-English home language, with the highest concentration in the early grades. Many young children are also at risk for lack of school readiness in language, literacy, mathematics, and science due to family background factors. Educational efforts to offset early risk factors can be successful, with clear links between high quality early learning experiences and later academic outcomes. SciMath-DLL will help teachers provide effective mathematics and science learning experiences for their students. Early educational support is critical to assure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic or linguistic background, learn the STEM content required to become science and mathematics literate. Converging lines of research suggest that participation in sustained mathematics and science learning activities could enhance the school readiness of preschool dual language learners. Positive effects of combining science inquiry with supports for English-language learning have been identified for older students. For preschoolers, sustained science and math learning opportunities enhance language and pre-literacy skills for children learning one language. Mathematics skills and science knowledge also predict later mathematics, science, and reading achievement. What has not been studied is the extent to which rich science and mathematics experiences in preschool lead to better mathematics and science readiness and improved language skills for preschool DLLs. Because the preschool teaching force is not prepared to support STEM learning or to provide effective supports for DLLs, professional development to improve knowledge and practice in these areas is required before children's learning outcomes can be improved.
SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities. Development and research activities incorporate cycles of design-expert review-enactment- analysis-redesign; collaboration between researcher-educator teams at all project stages; use of multiple kinds of data and data sources to establish claims; and more traditional, experimental methodologies. Based on initial evidence of promise, the SciMath-DLL project will expand PD offerings to include web-based materials, making the PD more flexible for use in a range of educational settings and training circumstances. An efficacy study will be completed to examine the potential of the SciMath-DLL resources, model, and tools to generate positive effects on teacher attitudes, knowledge, and practice for early mathematics and science and on children's readiness in these domains in settings that serve children learning two languages. By creating a suite of tools that can be used under differing educational circumstances to improve professional knowledge, skill, and practice around STEM, the project increases the number of teachers who are prepared to support children as STEM learners and, thus, the number of children who can be supported as STEM learners.
Brenneman, K., Lange, A., & Nayfeld, I. (2018). Integrating STEM into Preschool Education: Designing a Professional Development Model in Diverse Settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(1), 15-28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0912-z
Lange, A. A., Nayfeld, I., Mano, H., & Jung, K. (revise and resubmit). Effects of a professional development model on preschool teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge around STEM and teaching DLLs.
Lange, A. A., Trivette, C., Nayfeld, I., & Mano, H. (in preparation). Impacts of a preschool professional development approach on teaching and coaching practice: A mixed-methods analysis.
Lange, A. A., Brenneman, K., & Mano, H. (2019). Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom: Exploring Big Ideas with 3-5 Year Olds. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Mano, H., Molina, K., Nayfeld, I., & Lange, A. A. (2019). Planting the Seeds of Engineering: Preschoolers Think about, Talk about, and Solve a Real Problem in the Garden. Science and Children, 57 (2), 80–84.
Lange, A. A., Dias, A., & Brenneman, K. (2016). Reflecting on Teaching Length Measurement to Young Children. Teaching Young Children, 9(5), 24-27. (product from SciMath DRK-12 predecessor project)
Lange, A.A. (2019). Engaging Preschoolers in STEM: It’s Easier Than You Think! Invited guest blog for the DREME Network. https://dreme.stanford.edu/news/engaging-preschoolers-stem-it-s-easier-you-think
Lange, A. A. (2015). Early STEM: Fuel for Learning. https://nieer.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/early-stem-fuel-for-learning/
Preschool STEM Institute: www.ecstemlab.com/preschool-stem-institute
This project was previously funded under award #1019576.