Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dawn Basinger

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine administrators' understandings and perceptions of STEM education and their influence on classroom practices. Due to the well-documented need throughout decades of literature for quality STEM programming in the nation's schools, the knowledge gained in this study was valuable because of the potential impact administrators' perceptions and understandings can have on program implementation. This study focused on the implementation of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) STEM programs.

In this mixed-methods investigation, quantitative and qualitative data were gathered through the use of surveys and interviews. The study participants were administrators of schools utilizing at least one PLTW curricula. The data collection and analysis were guided by the following research questions:

1. How do administrators of schools in Louisiana implementing a PLTW curriculum define STEM education? 2. How do administrators of schools in Louisiana implementing a PLTW curriculum perceive STEM education? 3. What evidence exists to indicate administrators' understandings and perceptions of STEM education impact program implementation and classroom practices? The study revealed that there is not a universally understood definition of STEM education. Similarly, there is a wide range in variation of perceptions regarding STEM education. The study also found that not all administrators feel prepared to oversee the implementation of STEM programming, as STEM education does require some unique administrative thinking and actions. There was some evidence that administrators' understandings and perceptions of STEM education can impact program implementation and classroom practices.

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