Areas of Emphasis
The MSTEP programs emphasize five major themes. These themes have been identified in the research on equity as being critical in developing equitable practices in schools.
Sensitization to the issues of Gender and Cultural Equity in Math and Science Education
The entire school community, administrator, teacher, parent, and student will become more aware of the importance of gender and cultural equity issues in education. The importance of perceptions, expectations, behavior, achievement, and reflection will be explored. Baseline data from school records and initial surveys will be collected at the start of the project. From these data, a school-wide plan will be developed. It is likely that a series of staff development workshops will be a part of this process. Internal and external evaluations will be made after the first year. These data will be used to determine the approaches to gender and cultural equity sensitization. (Koch and Irby 2002, Butler-Kahle 2001, Rodriguez 2000, Grayson and Martin (2002)., Fennema et.al. 1990, Fennema 1994, Fennema et.al. 1994, Fennema and Sherman 1976, Campbell 1994, Century 1994)
Leadership teams will be created within the school (these will include administrators, teachers, parents, students, and NYU faculty) to facilitate the organization and implementation of the goals. The Leadership teams will evaluate curriculum materials for bias, look for gender/race/ethnic balance in the curriculum, and identify multicultural and gender resources that are available for math and science. Most New York City schools have a mandated curriculum for the content of the math and science courses. This content will be examined in terms of gender and cultural equity issues, and recommendations will be made that will make the coverage of the curriculum more equitable without changing the specific math and science content. Assessment tools such as that developed by Irby and Brown 2003, and Kahle and Kelly 2001 will be utilized (see supplementary documents) (Hammich et.al. 2000, Koch and Irby 2002, Kahle et al 2000, Kahle and Meece 2000, Sanders and Stone 1986, Mark 1993).
There will be increased interaction with scientists and the scientific enterprise in order to enhance the learning experience for all students and teachers. Actual contact with practicing scientists and mathematicians has been shown to be an important motivator for students to include math and science in their plans for the future. The Saturday Science program at NYU, summer workshops for students, and the contact with the members of a science advisory committee from NYU will facilitate the implementation of this theme. (Koch and Irby 2002, Fraser-Abder 2003, Sadker 2002, Northwest Regional Educational Library April 1997)
Teachers will investigate ways to make their science teaching gender and culture equitable. This will include a study of instructional contact and body language, grouping and organizational strategies, classroom management and discipline, methods for enhancing self-esteem, and strategies for the evaluation of student performance. The baseline data collected at the beginning of the study will provide some direction for specific professional development. However, the gender and cultural equity courses that are part of graduate training at NYU, a series of equity workshops following the Generating Expectations for Student Achievement (GESA) workshop model, and the workshops that will be conducted by the individual members of the leadership teams will be important resources for the professional education of administrators and teachers. (Alexakos and Antoine 2003, Weinburg, Sadker, et.al. 1993, Sadker and Sadker and Sadker 1995, Gardner et.al. 1989, Fraser-Abder, 2003.)
Teachers can improve their practice by using classroom-based teacher-directed action research. Action research is a powerful tool both as a way to engage students and adults in actual scientific research, as a way to evaluate any equity modifications that are recommended, and to help teachers find answers to their pedagogical questions. Action research provides students and teachers with a framework for examining their practice, and a basis for collecting evidence that they can use to judge the effect of innovation in their classroom and their school. (Page et al 2003)