Going Global: Exploring the Behavioral Intent of STEM Pre-service Teachers in a Global Collaboration Focused Teacher Preparation Course
York, M Kate
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A robust understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content and proficiency in 21st century skills is needed to prepare today’s K-12 learners. As the world becomes more interconnected, students must be more than globally aware; they must be globally competent. Implementing classroom-based, STEM-focused global collaboration is one constructivist-based pedagogical strategy that affords students opportunities to strengthen STEM content acquisition while simultaneously developing critical 21st century skills, including global competencies, by engaging with global partners in collaborative activities. However, success with this strategy requires teachers proficient in these same skills. Training future teachers using constructivist pedagogies, like Project-Based Learning (PBL), during their initial teacher preparation programs enables them to engage in globally-focused STEM curriculum through globally-connected collaborative activities. This qualitative case study studied twelve STEM pre-service teachers enrolled in a PBL course, where they participated in global collaborations focusing on STEM content as a part of their teacher preparation program; international partners included STEM PSTs and in-service teacher graduate students enrolled at universities in Belarus and South Korea. Data collected explored participants’ conceptual understanding, perceptions and beliefs, and expressed interest in classroom-based global collaboration pedagogies, so as to assess their future intent in employing this strategy in their future K-12 STEM classrooms. To understand how participants perceived the utility of global collaboration as a viable pedagogical strategy to facilitate STEM content acquisition and 21st century skills development, the theory of planned behavior was used as a theoretical lens to analyze lesson plans, electronic collaboration documents, open-ended questionnaires, and interview data collected from the participants in this globally-focused course. Findings suggest that participants developed a conceptual understanding of classroom-based global collaboration, derived personal benefit from engaging with global partners (personal enjoyment, 21st century skills development, increased pedagogical perspectives, and heightened awareness of working with culturally and linguistically diverse students), and saw its potential benefits for K-12 students (21st century skills development, increased student engagement, and to a lesser extent, STEM content acquisition) by using this constructivist pedagogy in classroom instruction. However, the participants’ expressed intention of using classroom-based global collaboration in their future classrooms was mixed, with few indicating strong intentions of using this pedagogical approach. Participants indicated low self-efficacy in their ability to implement global collaboration, noting a lack of opportunity for practice during the course as a major reason. Participants also noted other perceived challenges that influenced their intent, including concerns with linking STEM content facilitation to global collaboration activities. As a result of this study, a model for incorporating classroom-based global collaboration is proposed, which addresses the inclusion, design, and implementation of these global collaboration experiences in STEM teacher preparation programs.