Inquiry Based Curriculums
Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania are some states adopting project-based curriculum to enable public school students to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom. While quantitative data was not available, qualitative data has been provided below.
- In Ohio, schools such as Dayton Regional STEM School are using project-based learning. Educators focus on aiding their students to grow their skills by engaging in real-world problem-solving analytical skills. Students are equipped to find rewarding jobs in prestigious industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors.
- In Texas, educators in public schools such as Memorial Early College High School in New Braunfels coach their students to brainstorm ideas independently. More so, students are learning to write journal entries based on interviews they've carried out outside their classrooms and do projects in their native language.
- In Texas, initiatives such as Educate Texas capitalize on project-based initiatives to prepare students for higher learning institutions. Since its launch in 2003, the Texas High School Project, for instance, has yielded over a hundred quality STEM and early college high schools.
- In Pennsylvania, schools such as Cheltenham High School have adopted project-based learning. In this case, educators use mock trials and tasks that sharpen their analytical thinking. Project-based approaches put learners at the center rather than receive passive information from educators. As a result, students are more engaged, focused, and better prepared for higher learning.
- The Virginia Department of Education sector uses methods such as the Profile of a Virginia Graduate to encourage more public schools in the state to embrace project-based learning.
- Virginia's State Superintendent also created a program, Virginia is for Learners, which involves 60 school districts to promote a project-based curriculum.
- Public schools in California, such as Design Tech High School, Harmony Public Schools, Minarets High School, and iLEAD Schools, embrace project-based curriculum through capstone project traditions such as engineering projects. Educators are providing learners with senior legacy experience, where a culminating capstone highlights Showcase of Learning.
- Through initiatives such as New Tech Network, 124 schools in 115 districts have managed to put 85,000 students through a project-based curriculum and provide these students with assessment tools and technologies that will benefit them now and in the future.
- In Nebraska, Bellevue Public Schools have embraced a project-based curriculum to give all students a rich experience across all grades and courses. In this case, projects vary in length, such as days, weeks, and even a semester. Students are grouped in pairs or teams of four to provide a collaborative learning nature and ensure that learners can develop interpersonal learning skills. The skills acquired in project-based learning are later reinforced in the internships.
Inquiry-Based Problem Posing Curriculum in Elementary Schools
The inquiry-based problem-posing curriculum is becoming accepted widely in elementary schools across the US. Elementary schools in Florida, Wisconsin, and Stanford use approaches such as STEM, project-based, design thinking, and international baccalaureate tools to equip students with dimensional knowledge.
- Several elementary schools in Florida have embraced the STEM type of inquiry-based problem-posing curriculum. These schools include Bartow Elementary Academy, Okaloosa STEMM Center, Lauderhill Middle School, and Discovery Intermediate School.
- Elementary schools in Wisconsin are adopting design thinking and solution-based forms of learning. The stakeholders are convinced that these learning approaches promote empathy and the ability to see the world through a broader lens. Educators use design thinking as a human-centered approach and innovation to borrow from the designer's toolkit to combine learners' needs. With this technique, educators are equipping learners with the utmost fundamentals for business success after they graduate.
- Elementary schools in Stanford are applying the K12 design thinking approach to equip young learners with development experiences that set students on a journey to engage with their peers and the community creatively. With the aid of resources and tools, this approach has continued to increase the confidence of learners. Educators are also trained in Lab designs to understand the new concepts and creatively engage with their students through experiences, content, and tools.
Race and household income are some of the determinants that have continued to affect the adoption of the inquiry-based problem-posing curriculum in elementary schools across the US, which in turn has continued to escalate factors such as inclusion and equity.
- Research indicates that STEM education's racial hierarchy, particularly in elementary schools, continues to be upheld by structural arrangements, practices, and policies. In some instances, these arrangements deny access and depress the performance of African-American elementary learners in STEM.
- Compared to private elementary schools, most elementary public schools are yet to adopt inquiry-based curricula such as STEM or project-based learning. As a result, the white student population has dramatically declined by 15% since 1997, while Hispanic and Asian populations have continued to increase by 50% to 12.9 million students and 46% to 2.9 million students, respectively. The African-American population has remained relatively steady over the last 20 years.
- More research indicates that minority students with engineering dreams face a wide range of barriers, including implicit bias when enrolling in elementary schools. While teachers have continued to be unfairly blamed for such systemic issues for failing to address the lack of diversity during elementary STEM enrollment, industry experts argue that there needs to be a significant change in the entire STEM journey.
- Research indicates that there is a high correlation between financial resources and children's academic paths. For instance, parents with higher incomes are in a better financial position to select quality education for their children. In contrast, parents with low income are bound to stay within a budget, thus putting less emphasis on their children's educational attainment.
- Students from low-income backgrounds are unfamiliar with college expectations as they are poorly equipped in project-based learning. Industry experts advise that such students need support, validation, and guidance from STEM faculty members to prepare them for higher education, field experiences, and other opportunities.
- Children from high household income are also exposed to technology from a tender age, making it easier for them to embrace and adapt to inquiry-based learning faster than children from low-income households. Studies indicate that 62% of children from households with annual incomes of $100,000 and above had laptops from an early age, and 78% of these children had smartphones. On the other hand, only 25% of children whose household income was less than $35,000 annually had their own laptop, while 51% had their own smartphone.
While this research required us to provide the number of US public schools using project-based curricula and the number of US elementary schools with some inquiry-based problem-posing curriculum, we could not quantify these institutions' number. We searched through various reliable sources, including official government websites such as the US Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), and Data.gov, with no success. Thus, we settled on providing qualitative data, such as some states that have adopted inquiry-based curriculum in public and elementary schools.