An Analysis of Cultural Influences on STEM Schools: Similarities and Differences Across K-12 Contexts

  • Kristin LesseigEmail author
  • Jonah Firestone
  • Judy Morrison
  • David Slavit
  • Tamara Holmlund


Despite the increasing number of inclusive STEM schools, little is known about the cultural dimensions that influence STEM curriculum and instruction within these schools. This paper describes research conducted at three inclusive STEM schools, one each at the elementary, middle, and high school level. We explored similarities and differences in cultural dimensions across the schools with specific attention to how these differentially influence teachers’ perceptions and enactment of STEM curriculum and instruction across the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Our cross-case analysis revealed structural aspects (school vision, community partnerships, course scheduling, and testing pressures) as well as professional orientations (i.e., instructional practices, interdisciplinary collaboration, and teacher content knowledge) that appear particularly important to student learning experiences at each grade level. Navigating these factors of STEM school culture requires teachers to not only be knowledgeable but also to draw on a professional orientation that encourages collaboration and risk-taking. We discuss implications for teacher education and STEM school development.


STEM education STEM schools Teacher education School culture 


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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington State University VancouverVancouverUSA

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