STEM Hexagon Learning Project
Engaging college students in educational experiences that allow for contextual learning and real-life application will always be critical in their development as professionals. There is a global urgency for individuals equipped with knowledge, skills, and dispositions in agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR) with the combined expertise of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) applications. As educational researchers, we engaged in conversations of our role and influence as members of the HARVEST team. As we brainstormed, it slowly became clear that it truly is the opportunities provided to individuals during their educational journey that will ultimately prepare them to be the workforce needed to solve global challenges. After sharing personal interests and research goals, our team zeroed in on a common interest in investigating how the integration of STEM and agricultural knowledge can help solve modern, technology-based agricultural problems.
Our research project will take a deeper look at how a students’ conceptual understanding of a problem (task) influences their decision-making process when attempting to solve the problem, which leads to the direction of self-directed learning. What is the connection between students’ understanding of the problem that guides students’ direction of using their prior knowledge to make the decision to solve the problem. To conduct this research, we are partnering with university faculty and their team of students who are engaged in an agriculture focused robotics competition. Through focus group interviews, observation, and individual participant interviews, we hope to uncover how students conceptualize the event in terms of:
1. What existing STEM and agricultural knowledge do they use to solve problems?
2. What STEM and agricultural knowledge are they aware is needed to solve problems?
3. To what extent they apply self-regulated learning to solve problems?
4. In what way do they approach solving problems (engineering design process)?
We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress as we continue to delve into this project! Stay tuned!