STEPWISE

Welcome!

‘STEPWISE’ is a framework that teachers use to develop lessons and student activities that may educate students so that they can eventually self-direct complex and effective research-informed & negotiated actions (RiNA) – like those highlighted below (and here) – to overcome harms they determine in often-controversial (as in the video at right) relationships among fields of science & technology and societies & environments (STSE). With rationale for promoting RiNA projects, this site provides suggestions and many resources for implementing STEPWISE-informed lessons and activities. For more information and/to work with our curriculum & research team, contact me at: larry.bencze@utoronto.ca.

Sample RiNA Projects

Overview

Students’ RiNA projects can be classified as mainly focusing on ‘science’ (i.e., research leading to recommendations for changes in the world) or ‘engineering’ (using research to design & develop inventions or innovations that work and promote social justice and environmental resilience), as in the examples below:

Based on their RiNA projects, students have generated numerous reports, such as:

Through STEPWISE, students in formal elementary, secondary and tertiary education and after-school contexts have (since 2006) developed many wonderful RiNA projects, like the one that Mirjan Krstovic (a high school science teacher) describes in the video below and those linked at left and below.

Teachers also have written about student RiNA projects in articles and books, including: STEPWISE (2017); and, Activist Science & Technology Education (2014).

STEPWISE Pedagogy

As explained in the video linked at right (below on phones), many students only can self-direct excellent RiNA projects after teachers provide them with lessons & activities based on the 3-phase schema shown at right/below – which varies in extents of learning control. Depending on students’ ages and developmental stages, the teacher may repeat this cycle – typically with a new topic/unit. Once the teacher believes students are ready, they can be asked to carry out “Student-led RiNA Projects.” Elaborations of STEPWISE pedagogy are downloadable here and here – with more detailed online elaborations here.

Teacher Resources for Implementing STEPWISE

Teachers and researchers have created many pedagogical materials for STEPWISE implementation, many of which are available through my Resources page. Two resources that provide numerous lesson suggestions and student activities are linked at right. Often, as explained  below, we collaborate with teachers to study effectiveness of different approaches.

Rationale for RiNA Projects & STEPWISE Pedagogy

We believe that science educators need to educate students about possibly-harmful influences of powerful people and groups on fields of science & technology (or STEM) and most everything else on earth and to develop and take research-informed and negotiated action projects to overcome harms they have identified because:

  • many harms, like climate change and illnesses from manufactured foods, are very severe; and,
  • governments have not been very successful at overcoming such harms – which seems largely due to economic pressures – and, so, members of communities need to take it upon themselves to try to improve the world around them.

The video below provides rationale for encouraging and enabling students to design and conduct RiNA projects to overcome harms in STSE relationships – and for teaching methods teachers can use to help them do so.

STEPWISE Action Research

Since its development in 2006, the STEPWISE schema has been used for curriculum development for several primary, secondary & tertiary courses and in after-school contexts. Although, as indicated above, educators have had considerable successes with the framework and, as indicated at right (and here), we have learned much about promotion of RiNA projects, we continue to engage in new action research to develop and evaluate new approaches. We are now, for example, exploring uses of findings from Science & Technology Studies – as elaborated here.

If you would like to learn more about this project and/or work with members of my action research team to implement and study STEPWISE, contact me at: larry.bencze@utoronto.ca. Also, please help us advertise our resources and possibilities for collaborating with us by distributing this recruitment flyer.