Investigating STEAM: A Study of First Year Middle School Curriculum Implementation
This project was a one-year investigation of the implementation of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Initiative in the Metro Nashville Public School System. Interviews with STEAM teachers, principals, and district personnel, as well as a comprehensive review of STEAM documentation, were conducted to determine the following: (a) how the initiative unfolded across the district during the 2017-18 school year; (b) how Instructional Leadership, Professional Development, School Culture and Climate, and Organizational Capacity influenced the STEAM implementation; and (c) how the implementation was perceived by teachers, principals, and district personnel. This report nests our findings within the extant research on STEAM and the relevant scholarly work on new program implementation. This report indicates that the most positive perceptions of the STEAM Initiative stemmed from the one-on-one instructional support provided by the Discovery Education consultants. Teachers and principals noted that the STEAM initiative and student learning benefitted from the district’s instructional framework focused on creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. The report suggests that the initiative was weakened by a lack of vision, unspecified goals, and a lack of measurable benchmarks. Recommendations to the district include early collaboration with teachers and principals to establish the foundation for STEAM implementation, communication of a clear vision, the development of shared goals, measurable outcomes, team-based learning, and targeted support for the specific needs of students and teachers while focusing on academic growth and student care.