STEPWISE

Welcome!

‘STEPWISE’ is a framework that teachers use to develop lessons and student activities for educating students so that they may eventually self-direct complex and effective research-informed & negotiated actions (RiNA) – like those highlighted below – to overcome harms they determine in often-controversial (as in the video at right) relationships among fields of science & technology and societies & environments (STSE). Along with rationale for promoting RiNA projects, this site provides suggestions and resources for implementing STEPWISE-informed lessons and activities.

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 that a high school science teacher (Mirjan Krstovic) describes in the video below and those linked at right and below.

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

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 problems, like climate change and illnesses from manufactured foods, are very severe; and,
  • governments have not been very successful at overcoming such harms – which I think is 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 Pedagogy

Often, as explained in the video linked at right, students are only able to self-direct ‘sophisticated’ RiNA projects after teacher-led lessons & activities following this 3-phase sequence:

  • Students Reflect. e.g., students express what they and other people & groups (dis-)like about STEM products (e.g., cars);
  • Teacher Teaches. e.g., the teacher directly teaches hard to discover important concepts like actor-network theory; and provides activities to apply such concepts in new situations;
  • Students Practise. e.g., students design & conduct brief RiNA projects on topics of their choice, with teacher help as requested.

Depending on students’ ages and developmental stages, the teacher may repeat the above cycle – typically with a new topic/unit.

Once the teacher believes students are ready, they can be asked to carry out culminatingStudent-led RiNA Projects.”

Downloadable elaborations of STEPWISE pedagogy are available here and here – along with some detailed online elaborations here.

For teaching & learning suggestions and materials for implementing STEPWISE, refer to my Resources section.

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 left, 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.