STEPWISE

Science & Technology Education Promoting Wellbeing for Individuals, Societies & Environments
A resource-rich pedagogical programme for educating science & technology students so they can eventually self-direct effective research-informed & negotiated action (RiNA) projects to help overcome harms (e.g., climate crisis) of their concern in relationships among fields of science & technology and societies & environments (STSE).
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STEPWISE Pedagogical Schema for Enabling Student-led RiNA Projects
[Using our pedagogical resources and/or those locally-developed]

Before students are asked to self-direct RiNA projects – like those at right (below on phones) – to overcome STSE Harms of their concern, they should be provided with lessons & activities based on the 3-phase pedagogy below (Links in the graphic below provide elaborations).

STEPWISE-Pedagogy_Ant8d

Students Reflect
We recommend teachers often begin lessons by stimulating students to reflect on past experiences and express their current attitudes, skills & knowledge (ASK) relating to a topic (e.g., plant biology) to be learned & explored. Stimuli can involve any item(s) in STSE relationships, such as pictures of common commodities. About these, students might be asked questions like, 'What do you like/dislike about this?,' 'What people &/or groups may support/critique it?' and 'What could/should be done - and why - to overcome any harms you see related to this?' Providing such stimuli makes the Students Reflect phase somewhat teacher-directed, but the phase should be most student-directed & open-ended - to help ensure students' intellectual independence. Based on constructivist learning theory, such activities can help students to become more conscious of often-subconscious ASK that can greatly-influence their interpretations of experiences - such as different images people 'see' in this photograph. Commonly, students' expressed ASK in such activities are quite varied, which we suggest teachers must respect because of variations in students' abilities and cultural-social capital. Finally, an overall description of the Students Reflect phase of this pedagogy is available here.

Teacher Teaches
Although some students may express ASK that align with those of the teacher and other professionals, those of many other students may not - again, because of variations in students' abilities and cultural-social capital. For social justice reasons, therefore, it is necessary for teachers to ensure that all students develop ASK that may serve them well in societies. To accomplish this, we strongly urge teachers to directly teach students very important - but often difficult to discover through student-led inquiries - ASK. Particularly important to teach are STSE Harms that often are results of intense influences of capitalist individuals & groups on fields of science & technology and most other entities on earth. Although very problematic, such influences often are hidden from people or discredited (e.g., Merchants of Doubt). In this regard, a common technique is subterfuge - based on actor-network theory (ANT), as with genetically-engineered salmon, commodities often are presented in reductionist ways (in ANT terms, punctualized), like a Trojan horse, hiding or distracting consumers from knowing about possibly-problematic networks to which they belong. Such purposeful networks are called dispositifs, assemblages of actants that largely cooperate in support of common purposes (e.g., for-profit consumerism). In addition to teaching about such problematic STSE relationships, however, students should be taught about RiNA projects undertaken by people to overcome STSE harms of their concern. Teaching ASK like that above must - based on knowledge duality theory - also, however, be accompanied by activities enabling students to apply newly-taught ASK, such as case methods activities like that for evaluating cell phones.

Students Practise
Although teachers may have 'taught' - in the Teacher Teaches phase - students about curriculum 'content,' including about Products, Skills, STSE relationships, STSE Harms, possible STSE Actions and Sample RiNA projects, again in light of knowledge duality theory, students' learning may not be very deep or committed until they have opportunities to more independently design & conduct practice RiNA projects to help overcome STSE harms of their concern. For this Students Practise phase, accordingly, the teacher can given students an assignment to complete a small-scale RiNA project to overcome an STSE harm of their choice. Such an assignment should be mostly student-directed & open-ended, except in terms of assistance provided by the teacher for aspects of such projects about which many students may be unfamiliar. Students may benefit, for instance, from lessons & resources relating to: STSE Issues; correlational study methods; and, STSE action types.

Lock's (1990) Learning Control Model
The STEPWISE pedagogy is based on several theoretical conceptions. Of particular importance are variations in control-of-learning - as recommended by Roger Lock (1990). As explained in this summary, teacher and student control over procedures and conclusions in the STEPWISE pedagogy should vary, as follows: Students Reflect: activities should be mostly SD/OE; Teacher Teaches: lessons should be very TD/CE, while application activities may be somewhat more SD/OE; Students Practise: mostly, depending on student needs, SD/OE. Student-led RiNA projects should, of course, be very SD/OE. Reasons for such variations in learning control also are based on constructivist learning theory. As elaborated in this summary, although students always construct ASK based on those in their brains/bodies, directions of their constructions tend to be limited the more teachers control procedures and conclusions. So, while the STEPWISE pedagogy does promote TD/CE instruction in the Teacher Teaches phase, the other two phases - and, of course, student-led RiNA projects - are to err on the side of SD and OE experiences. Finally, learning control variations can influence students' conceptions of the nature of science & technology (NoST). As explained in this summary, students may develop more holistic - and, likely, realistic - NoST conceptions if teachers balance TD/CE & SD/OE lessons & activities.

Student-led RiNA Projects!

STEPWISE Historical & Theoretical Background

STEPWISE is a response to capitalist hegemony!

Humanity is, clearly, facing numerous potential & realized harms to wellbeing of individuals, societies & environments – including, for example, the petroleum-fueled climate crisis, illnesses from manufactured foods, privacy invasions from surveillance systems and species losses from habitat despoliation. Although many (or most) of these seem directly related to fields of science & technology (or ‘STEM‘), there is much evidence & argument to suggest that many such problems are mainly due to hegemonic influences of pro-capitalist entities (e.g., transnational corporations) like those depicted at left (above) – which appear to have orchestrated most living, nonliving & symbolic entities into a Borg-like network (or dispositif) that, collectively, supports pro-capitalist ideals like possessive individualism. Because such pro-capitalist dispositifs are so focused on maximizing private profit (over public benefits), largely through tactics like cost externalizations, several analysts suggest that they are like cancer (e.g., Monbiot, McMurtry) – psychopathologically (e.g., The Corporation) exploiting anything & everything around them to achieve their goals.

STEM fields & STEM education are greatly under capitalist control

Although pro-capitalist dispositifs appear to have enlisted myriad actants into their networks, many capitalist successes appear related to problematic pro-capitalist influences over STEM fields and their educational counterparts.

STEM education needs to enlighten & empower students to take civic actions to help overcome STSE harms

Because many societies have governments highly-committed to neoliberal capitalism, or, perhaps worse, authoritarianism (e.g., in China, Brazil, India & Russia), it seems clear that STEM education systems (primary, secondary & tertiary contexts) need to educate students about apparently-problematic pro-capitalist dispositifs and prepare them to engage in sociopolitical actions to overcome STSE harms of concern to them. As depicted in the video at left/above, such education may be like being able to ‘see’ often-hidden aspects of the world; that is, in terms of actor-network theory, to have aspects of the world de-punctualized. For example, rather than simply seeing a commodity like genetically-engineered salmon as a single entity (e.g., that may provide abundant food), it can be seen as enmeshed in a larger – apparently-problematic – network involving powerful actants like the FDA and private companies.

History & theory behind the STEPWISE framework for educating & empowering pro-active citizens!
(Links in the graphics below provide details]

The original STEPWISE framework (2006) below formed a tetrahedron, co-relating five elements from Ontario curricula – but emphasizing STSE Actions.

STEPWISE_Tetrahedron-Links
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www.stepwiser.ca

Because teachers found the tetrahedral schema at left (above) difficult to implement, the more sequential pedagogical schema below (and here) was developed – and, through action research with teachers and others, used to develop many pedagogical resources & publications.

STEPWISE-Pedagogy_Theory

We recommend teachers often begin lessons by stimulating students to reflect on past experiences and express their current attitudes, skills & knowledge (ASK) relating to a topic (e.g., plant biology) to be learned & explored. Stimuli can involve any item(s) in STSE relationships, such as pictures of common commodities. About these, students might be asked questions like, 'What do you like/dislike about this?,' 'What people &/or groups may support/critique it?' and 'What could/should be done - and why - to overcome any harms you see related to this?' Providing such stimuli makes the Students Reflect phase somewhat teacher-directed, but the phase should be most student-directed & open-ended - to help ensure students' intellectual independence. Based on constructivist learning theory, such activities can help students to become more conscious of often-subconscious ASK that can greatly-influence their interpretations of experiences - such as different images people 'see' in this photograph. Commonly, students' expressed ASK in such activities are quite varied, which we suggest teachers must respect because of variations in students' abilities and cultural-social capital. Finally, an overall description of the Students Reflect phase of this pedagogy is available here.

Although some students may express ASK that align with those of the teacher and other professionals, those of many other students may not - again, because of variations in students' abilities and cultural-social capital. For social justice reasons, therefore, it is necessary for teachers to ensure that all students develop ASK that may serve them well in societies. To accomplish this, we strongly urge teachers to directly teach students very important - but often difficult to discover through student-led inquiries - ASK. Particularly important to teach are STSE Harms that often are results of intense influences of capitalist individuals & groups on fields of science & technology and most other entities on earth. Although very problematic, such influences often are hidden from people or discredited (e.g., Merchants of Doubt). In this regard, a common technique is subterfuge - based on actor-network theory (ANT), as with genetically-engineered salmon, commodities often are presented in reductionist ways (in ANT terms, punctualized), like a Trojan horse, hiding or distracting consumers from knowing about possibly-problematic networks to which they belong. Such purposeful networks are called dispositifs, assemblages of actants that largely cooperate in support of common purposes (e.g., for-profit consumerism). In addition to teaching about such problematic STSE relationships, however, students should be taught about RiNA projects undertaken by people to overcome STSE harms of their concern. Teaching ASK like that above must - based on knowledge duality theory - also, however, be accompanied by activities enabling students to apply newly-taught ASK, such as case methods activities like that for evaluating cell phones.

Although teachers may have 'taught' - in the Teacher Teaches phase - students about curriculum 'content,' including about Products, Skills, STSE relationships, STSE Harms, possible STSE Actions and Sample RiNA projects, again in light of knowledge duality theory, students' learning may not be very deep or committed until they have opportunities to more independently design & conduct practice RiNA projects to help overcome STSE harms of their concern. For this Students Practise phase, accordingly, the teacher can given students an assignment to complete a small-scale RiNA project to overcome an STSE harm of their choice. Such an assignment should be mostly student-directed & open-ended, except in terms of assistance provided by the teacher for aspects of such projects about which many students may be unfamiliar. Students may benefit, for instance, from lessons & resources relating to: STSE Issues; correlational study methods; and, STSE action types.

Although students may have developed & implemented effective RiNA projects in the Students Practise phase, again referencing knowledge duality theory, it is essential for them to be allowed/encouraged to self-direct such projects; that is, for them to be as student-directed & open-ended as possible. In doing so, students may be well-prepared for functioning independently as critical and action-oriented community members. To promote such independence, teachers may limit their influences over student projects to ensuring student safety and, perhaps, again providing them with lists of possible STSE issues to address.

The STEPWISE pedagogy is based on several theoretical conceptions. Of particular importance are variations in control-of-learning - as recommended by Roger Lock (1990). As explained in this summary, teacher and student control over procedures and conclusions in the STEPWISE pedagogy should vary, as follows: Students Reflect: activities should be mostly SD/OE; Teacher Teaches: lessons should be very TD/CE, while application activities may be somewhat more SD/OE; Students Practise: mostly, depending on student needs, SD/OE. Student-led RiNA projects should, of course, be very SD/OE. Reasons for such variations in learning control also are based on constructivist learning theory. As elaborated in this summary, although students always construct ASK based on those in their brains/bodies, directions of their constructions tend to be limited the more teachers control procedures and conclusions. So, while the STEPWISE pedagogy does promote TD/CE instruction in the Teacher Teaches phase, the other two phases - and, of course, student-led RiNA projects - are to err on the side of SD and OE experiences. Finally, learning control variations can influence students' conceptions of the nature of science & technology (NoST). As explained in this summary, students may develop more holistic - and, likely, realistic - NoST conceptions if teachers balance TD/CE & SD/OE lessons & activities.