Dr. Marwa Eltanahy is an assistant professor in the field of science education and works currently in the Higher Colleges of Technology as a faculty in education. She has an extensive experience in the educational field with specific expertise in teaching, coordination, training educators, and accreditation. In addition to her long experience as a researcher, reviewer, and editor in academia. She has 7th years of experience in conducting research studies in the field of entrepreneurial- STEM learning (E-STEM), resulting in developing the first E-STEM model in the international field. The implementation of this model won one of the best 10 research papers in the international conference on Education (ICEDU) in 2022 and all her series of E-STEM research was published in very high-ranked journals. In addition to her research interest and publications in leadership, teaching and learning, professional development programs, assessment, and practices. She works with schools, governors, and senior leaders to enhance research-based practices. She is a writer for different magazines and acts as a coordinator, a judge, and a participant in several national and international conferences and competitions.
In our current, technologically advanced world, learning about incorporating entrepreneurial practices into the STEM fields (E-STEM) has increasingly become an essential strategy for equipping students with the abilities they need to meet future challenges. This article aims to explore the key elements that positively impact the effective implementation of E-STEM learning in secondary education by providing guidance to leaders interested in adopting innovative practices in their schools.
Involve Business Teachers
Integrating entrepreneurial practices into the STEM context adds an additional layer of complexity for STEM teachers. To ensure the successful implementation of E-STEM practices, it is crucial to foster collaboration between business teachers and other disciplinary STEM teachers. This joint effort will facilitate the integration between STEM and entrepreneurial principles to give students a thorough understanding of entrepreneurial concepts that can be deepened gradually. Moreover, the inclusion of business teachers will ensure the incorporation of real-world examples, industry connections, and insights into current market trends which enhances the authenticity of the learning process. Hence, E-STEM practices provide students with meaningful learning opportunities that allow them to apply their STEM knowledge in practical situations while giving them valuable exposure to the business world. Sharing industry needs and relevant case studies can make learning experiences more applicable for learners to examine their learning and understanding of entrepreneurial theoretical concepts in the real world. Internships, mentorship programs, and project partnerships are just a few of the ways that business teachers can accommodate to help STEM students get valuable entrepreneurial experiences. Bridging the gap between students’ outcomes and market needs will create a new suited learning platform for students to expand their professional networks and develop meaningful relationships which promote their potential career paths in both entrepreneurship and STEM-related fields.
Establish E-STEM Committee
Establishing a robust committee for E-STEM learning within schools is a crucial step toward supporting the implementation process and monitoring students’ work. The committee plays a vital role in fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration among participants, driving the success of E-STEM initiatives. Ensuring students are equipped with the skills and mindset necessary for future entrepreneurial -STEM endeavors. The following tips are essential to help schools set up an effective E-STEM committee:
- Define the Purpose and Scope: Clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the E-STEM committee. Determine the scope of its responsibilities, which may include STEM curriculum development, instructional strategies, professional development, potential industry partnerships, and project monitoring.
- Create a Diverse Team: Form a committee that includes passionate and creative representatives from various disciplines, such as STEM teachers, business teachers, administrators, and industry professionals who are willing to collaborate. This diversity ensures a well-rounded approach and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration.
- Assign Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of committee members. Designate a coordinator to facilitate meetings, communication, and coordination of activities. Assign specific tasks to individuals based on their expertise and areas of interest.
- Establish a Regular Meeting Schedule: Set a regular meeting schedule for the committee to maintain momentum and ensure consistent progress. Meetings should be frequent enough to address ongoing needs and challenges but not overly burdensome on participants.
- Collaborate with stakeholders: Engage relevant stakeholders such as school administrators, teachers, students, and parents in the E-STEM committee’s work. Seek their input, feedback, and support to create a collaborative and inclusive environment.
- Develop Action Plans: These plans should outline the steps and timelines for implementing E-STEM initiatives. Identify resources required, and activities selected to scaffold the learning process.
- Evaluate Students’ Outcomes: Develop a framework for monitoring and evaluating students’ E-STEM performance and progress. Establish criteria for assessment, feedback, and recognition of student’s achievements. Regularly review students’ projects to ensure constructive alignment with E-STEM goals and provide support where needed.
- Seek Professional Development Opportunities: Encourage committee members and teachers to participate in professional development programs focused on E-STEM education. This will enhance their knowledge, skills, and pedagogical approaches, enabling them to effectively guide students and stay updated with best practices.
- Foster Industry Partnerships: Promote partnerships with local businesses, industry professionals, and community organizations. Collaborate with them to provide mentorship, guest speakers, and internship opportunities. Project partnerships are also recommended to add real-world context and enhance the authenticity of students’ E-STEM experiences.
- Celebrate and Share Success: Recognize students’ achievements in E-STEM projects. Showcase exemplary work through exhibitions, competitions, or presentations. Share success stories within the school community and beyond to inspire others and promote the value of E-STEM learning.
Adopt a Competency-Based Learning Approach
Competency-based learning (CBL) is the main approach adopted to incorporate entrepreneurial practices into STEM education. It shifts the focus from content-oriented to process-oriented, where students progress at their own pace by demonstrating their understanding of a selected set of entrepreneurial competencies that form the student-competency profile. This constructivist approach is crucial because it enhances Individualized and self-directed learning as well as real-world connection. For example: CBL recognizes that each student has unique strengths, interests, and learning styles, and it allows students to advance as they demonstrate mastery of the required qualities, and ensure personalized and tailored learning experiences. Additionally, it encourages students to take ownership of their learning which fosters self-directedness, self-motivation, and the ability to set and pursue individual learning goals. By identifying the student-competency profile that is aligned with E-STEM goals, students will be engaged in practical learning experiences, and develop essential skills that are directly transferable to real-world entrepreneurial and STEM contexts. Project-based problem-solving strategy (PjBPS) forms the cornerstone of E-STEM implementation in secondary education because it enables students to think creatively, design and develop innovative solutions as they learn to generate ideas, experiment with different approaches, and take calculated risks in a safe learning environment.
Professional Development for Teachers
Teachers require continuous professional development programs (PDPs) to effectively guide students toward the best practices in E-STEM learning. These PDPs should focus on
- Curriculum Alignment and Instructional Strategies: PDPs equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to align their curriculum with E-STEM goals effectively. They learn instructional strategies that promote project-based problem-solving to design STEM projects that tend to be business-driven.
- Technology Integration: E-STEM learning often incorporates the use of technology tools and interactive platforms. PDPs provide teachers with training on utilizing these tools effectively, enabling them to integrate technology into their teaching practices and enhance student learning experiences.
- Assessment and Feedback: Effective assessment methods in E-STEM education focus on evaluating students’ mastery of competencies and their ability to apply knowledge and skills in practical contexts. PDPs train teachers to develop authentic assessments and provide meaningful feedback that guides student growth and informs instructional strategies.
- Reflective Practice and Continuous Improvement: PDPs create a culture of reflective practice among teachers. They encourage self-assessment, collaboration with peers, and opportunities for sharing best practices. This enables teachers to continually refine their instructional approaches, incorporate new pedagogical techniques, and adapt to evolving educational trends.
Implementing E-STEM education through competency-based learning and project-based problem-solving empowers students with the skills they need for success in infusing entrepreneurial principles into STEM practices. Collaborative efforts between disciplinary STEM teachers and business teachers, as well as the establishment of an E-STEM committee in each school, are highly needed to enhance the interdisciplinary nature of E-STEM learning and provide students with real-world insights and connections to make use of all STEM efforts by delivering students’ outcomes to the market. Additionally, PDPs for teachers will ensure that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to guide students toward best practices to design what adds value to the community. By embracing these approaches and fostering collaboration, schools can create a robust E-STEM ecosystem that prepares students to thrive in the entrepreneurial and technological landscape of the future.