K12: STEM Learning

Recommendations | Research | Resources

In many ways, the case for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education (STEM) should be a no-brainer. Unlike other subjects where Americans — in this most pragmatic of cultures — struggle to see the benefits that education reform holds for the “real world,” everyday life surrounds us with obvious STEM applications. Yet, the Noyce Foundation and its grantees reported numerous challenges to making STEM comprehensible, salient and actionable as a key educational issue. FrameWorks documents the conceptual challenges faced by communicators in translating expert views on STEM education, in both formal and informal learning environments, to the public and integrates this issue into the Core Story of Education framework, enriching its overall narrative and bringing new chapters into the story.

Recommendations

Telling the STEM Chapter of the Education Core Story: A Communications Toolkit 
This toolkit is a collection of framing research, recommendations, and sample communications designed to help leading voices explain learning in science, technology, engineering, and math in such a way that builds public understanding and will on STEM issues, while also supporting a broader reframed narrative about education as a public good.

The Power of Explanation: Reframing STEM and Informal Learning: A FrameWorks MessageMemo Supported by the Noyce Foundation (Multi-media version(PDF version
This MessageMemo, supported by the Noyce Foundation, summarizes the findings from an investigation of how Americans view STEM education, with a particular focus on informal learning contexts. It recommends specific reframing tools with demonstrate strong effects in addressing the conceptual challenges faced by communicators in translating expert views on this topic. 

Research

STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood (2017).
This report summarizes evidence supporting the need for early learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and makes recommendations about how to build public support for policies and programs that promote it. Released by Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and New America, it features an article by the FrameWorks Institute. Based on extensive research into how the public thinks about early learning, STEM, and education, this article lays out a clear narrative that science and education advocates can use to unite around science-based communications.

“You Have to Have the Basics Down Really Well”: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of STEM Learning
This report examines expert and public perspectives on STEM education and informal learning. FrameWorks researchers compare these expert and public perspectives in order to “map the gaps” that exist between these groups on issues of STEM learning. These gaps in understanding represent specific areas where reframing strategies and tools can be used to bring new information and ways of thinking about STEM education into public thinking and conversation.

Missing Matter: Holes in the Media Narrative about Informal and Formal STEM Learning.
This report analyzes media discourse on issues related to STEM education in both formal and informal contexts. Researchers qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed 283 relevant stories from newspapers, television broadcasts and news-oriented blogs between May 1, 2012 and May 1, 2013. The report concludes with reframing strategies that can be used to create new narratives on STEM learning and expand the public discourse on this issue.

Narrative Holes in STEM Storytelling: A Field Frame Analysis
This report analyzes materials from 22 organizations that are currently advocating for STEM education reform in both formal and informal contexts. Analysis identifies three dominant narratives that STEM organizations are employing to argue for reform, and assesses the impacts of these stories on public thinking about STEM learning.

Resources

**NEW** FrameWorks Academy - Making the Case for STEM Learning
If you're a communicator working in afterschool, early childhood, K-12, or an informal science education institution, you might suspect that you need a better story on STEM. "Making the Case for STEM Learning" can help you learn to tell one. Based on FrameWorks Institute's research on the communications aspects of STEM learning, this course walks communicators through a tested narrative that can shift th public's attitudes, knowledge, and policy preferences on a wide range of important policy and practice issues. For a limited time, you can register in this course at no cost, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Afterschool Alliance and funding from the Noyce Foundation. 

FrameWorks Delivers White House Speech about STEM and Early Learning
The White House held a symposium in April 2016 to highlight the need to promote active STEM learning for young children and to celebrate leaders who are advancing it in the public and private sectors. At the event, Susan Nall Bales, founder, chair of the board, and senior advisor at the FrameWorks Institute, called on champions of early learning to use communications science to make a more powerful case for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for young children.

Afterschool STEM Hub
The Afterschool STEM Hub has a rock-solid case for why America should expand opportunities for STEM learning to the after school hours, but the public is likely to assume that kids should “just recharge” once the school bell rings. When the facts don’t fit the frame, the frame stays and the facts go—so FrameWorks worked with the Afterschool STEM Hub’s group of researchers, advocates, and practitioners to develop a shared strategy for communicating their perspective more effectively. This comprehensive toolkit helps make the strategy easy to use.

(STEM animation produced by the FrameWorks Institute)