How can restructuring educational opportunities within Qatari national schools, according to a Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) model, support student success and provide for Qatari excellence in education to achieve Qatar national vision?
Table of Contents
Aims/Objectives of the Proposed Study. 5
Problem Statement 5
Research Questions. 6
Aim and Objectives of the Research. 6
Provisional Methodology. 15
Worldwide, the educational atmosphere could be described as evolving. As a global “talent war” erupts, nations are forced to alter their educational programs in order to generate highly skilled workers, with a kind of “methodological nationalism” that rewards the talents, and professional prowess, of native citizens (Brown & Tannock, 2008). Qatar is no exception, in that they have placed great emphasis on altering their educational approach, and establishing national goals that can move the country toward a knowledge-based economy.
Historically, schools in Qatar have used a combination of memorization and learning by rote to instruct (Alfadala, n.d.). However, changes in the national vision demanded that education be modernized, and focused on creating a knowledge based economy (Qatar National Vision 2030, 2008). This has been interpreted, in its earliest stage, has placed great emphasis on a science and technology based educational approach, in a learn-by-rote teaching environment (Alfadala, n.d.). This approach, known as STEM, placed all educational emphasis on developing skills in science, technology engineering and math (STEM). However, this focus has pushed education further and further from the arts, focusing on what were perceived as marketable skills, rather than providing a full and well-rounded education. Further, education and educational opportunity were somewhat limited by the nation’s inability to produce highly qualified teachers, prepared to instruct student in the changing educational environment (Cherif, Romanowski, & Nasser, 2012). This is ultimately to the detriment of students, and demonstrates a need to redevelop Qatar’s education program.
This means that a new model, Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), should be used in place of STEM, because this approach would place greater emphasis on innovating educational curriculum and pedagogy, to create a more diverse and skills based approach, while also allowing Qatari citizens a more meaningful opportunity to excel.
More specifically, the primary difference in STEM and STEAM approaches is that STEM places all emphasis on a single element, or approach, to learning, while STEAM works toward a more balanced approach (Jolly 2014; Robelen, 2011). STEAM educational models ensure all learning disciplines or subjects are treated of equal importance, and integrated to enhance learning, in all areas (Robelen, 2011). This not only provides a larger skill base, but also increase students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills (Sousa & Pilecki, 2013). As such, it is critical that greater attention be given to the development of a STEAM approach, with specific recommendations for a model to be used in Qatari schools which would provide for a greater integration of critical thinking, innovative teaching, and problem solving, in alignment with the Qatari National Goals.
In pursuit of this, I will seek to answer the question: How can restructuring educational opportunities within Qatari national schools, according to a Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) model, support student success and provide for Qatari excellence in education to achieve Qatar national vision?
First, it is important to define restructuring. Currently, as mentioned, the Qatari educational system uses a combination or rote memory and STEM based approaches to education students (Alfadala, n.d; Tarnoff, 2010). However, the educational needs restructured, using different pedagogical approaches in the classroom, and curriculum expectations to ensure that students are full prepared and have all the skills necessary to be productive workers (Robelen, 2011). This is best accomplished, as posited in the thesis, through the adoption of a STEAM based approach, which reintegrates, or emphasizes the arts, when compared to the STEM approach which minimized their instruction (Jolly, 2014). This includes not only art, in the classical sense, but all creative arts, including literacy. Students need a basis, in this area, in order to develop certain skill sets that are necessary, even within technical fields, like creative problem solving and reading comprehension, and critical evaluation. Finally, the research needs to conclude how this actively provides for the success of students, in the Qatari system, and as it aligns with the national vision (Qatar National Vision 2030, 2008). Overall, this can include consideration of leadership, and their role in changing the academic atmosphere, an effective collaborative teaching environment, programs offered within school to engage students in greater educational opportunities, and more. Ultimately, this will result in clear recommendations regarding the most necessary changes to the current educational system, which would occur through adoption of the STEAM model, and evidence for how that would impact student performance, with relation to Qatari’s economy, overall.
Aims/Objectives of the Proposed Study
Focus will therefore be placed on the independent school structure in Qatar and why is it has, historically been difficult to implement STEM education in schools as part of the curriculum, and how this should be improved. The research will, thereby, work to fill in the gap between the goals set forth in the Qatar national vision (2008), as it relates to creating skilled workers, reaching their full potential and educational reform challenges, by finding a STEAM School model that would be appropriate for the current situation and that will answer the limitations currently identified.
What STEAM Model is best fit to the Qatari national vision and its goal of producing students who meet their full potential and serve the knowledge based economy?
What are the factors related to STEAM education that impact student success, and the knowledge based economy?
How can restructuring educational opportunities, according to a STEAM model, support student success, and provide for Qatari excellence?
Why are after school STEM programs insufficient to meet the demands of the National Vision?
Aim and Objectives of the Research
The identified problem, and area of concern, is directly related to education, because it demonstrates the importance of developing a new model to serve as the framework for Qatari public education, and the development of educational programs intended to support the nation’s movement toward its national goals, over the next three years, and beyond. Through the completion of the proposed research, I as a researcher, other researchers concerned with Qatari educational reform, and educational authorities in Qatar, as it relates to education and curriculum decision making, can gain a more relevant understanding of the meaning of STEAM education in general, and why this acronym, and the corresponding approach is to be preferred over previous educational models. Further, it will consider why it is essential to Qatari students reaching their maximum potential and supporting the growth of a knowledge based economy. This will allow me to make specific recommendations regarding a STEAM model which would be appropriate as the model for Qatari schools.
With this purpose in mind, the aims and objectives of the proposed research are as follows:
Identify factors that previously hindered the implementation of STEM in independent schools, and how to overcome these challenges in implementing a new change.
Identifying the importance of STEAM school structure when it comes to solving issues like poor global competitiveness, teacher innovation, teacher preparation and development, instructional style, performance management, and student empowerment.
To prove how clear objectives, educational concepts, and the development of a specific educational strategic plan can contribute to the success of the reformation in education.
To demonstrate that teachers need an environment of collaboration within the school.
To emphasize the role of school leadership, including the role of teachers as researchers, especially as it relates to the use of innovative teaching methodologies.
To outline the benefits of adopting a STEAM school structure in implementing gifted education programs.
To define the rationale for an integrated STEAM curriculum.
The primary rationale behind exploring the alternative models for the future of education is Qatar is to provide meaningful recommendation for the adoption of a curriculum, or pedagogical approach, within Qatari schools that leverages the arts in a way that promotes maximum performance and achievement from all students. More specifically, the previous educational framework had a very narrow focus, which relied on memorization by rote, and which focused too heavily on science, math and technology as the fundamentals of a modern education, as a presumed cornerstone of the knowledge-based economy Qatar wants to establish. However, this system fails to provide a meaningful arts education and ultimately undermines student best interest, by limiting their exposure, and failing to foster a full development of their aptitude in many creative areas, including developing inquiry skills, problem solving skills and critical thinking. As a result, students are not reaching their full potential, and are less likely to become entrepreneurially successful in certain areas, thereby undermining the true vision for Qatar’s future.
The reason that Qatar needs to be actively addressing the issue of pedagogy, as it relates to the development of a standardized STEAM curriculum, is that non-innovative methods of study do not support a cultural pedagogy, as art does (Trend, 1992). Further, arts education has proven critical to the development of new media, and having the skills necessary to thrive in a global civil society (Delacruz, 2009). Research by Kim & Part (2012) indicated that education can only “cultivate ingenious talent” when it instructs for creativity. As such, providing a STEAM based education is crucial to actively developing creativity and problem solving in students, regardless of the discipline they will later work in, including science and technology based fields.
Finally, the research should be useful to the Qatari department of education, as demonstrates the flaws in the current, educational approach, and how converting to a STEAM based model, will directly impact the success of students, and the national movement toward the Qatar National Vision 2030 (2008). This will then provide a clear pedagogical, or curricular model for STEAM education to occur in Qatari schools, with the goal of improving student performance overall. This topic can then have direct impact on the educational system as a whole, by changing the way that they focus on STEM skills, and instead, using STEAM, place focus on creating well rounded and highly competitive students overall.
I previously studied why there is a growing concern for developing STEM education as a means of meeting the national vision of Qatar. In this work, I determined that since the creation of a new national vision for Qatar, the nation has single mindedly pursued science and technology skills within education as a means of increasing its competitiveness on the global level (Gonzalez & Kuenzi, 2012; Morganson, Jones & Major, 2010). This has been seen as the single educational area needed to make the nation competitive, as it relates to the role of a knowledge-based economy. However, a growing number of researchers are finding that the current educational approach does not foster the creative skills that underlie professional success, and entrepreneurial interest (Osborn, 2008; Coxon, 2012; Zakaria, 2015). As such being converted to STEAM education, which is more integrated and more balanced than STEM, is crucial for the globalization of Qatari’s economy and talent base, student potential cannot be fully realized, unless students are provided a diverse and academically challenging curriculum, that actively integrates technologies and the arts, in order to develop investigation, creation and problem solving skills simultaneously.
A single-minded focus on STEM has unfortunately placed limits on education. It has become a major focus for many educational systems, because it is seen as the primary gate way to the future, from a knowledge and economic standpoint (English, 2016: 3; Clarke 2012: 33). Further, it is directly tied to the goals set forth Qatar’s national vision (2008), which places great emphasis on the nation’s ability to become a more self-sufficient, and more knowledge-driven economy, when compared with its international peers.
However, experts have raised significant questions regarding whether or not a single-minded pursuit of these fields, within education, is actually in the best interest of learners, or whether it ultimately limits society, and the potential of learners who are educated under such a system. (Xu, 2013, p. 352). Thus, the adoption of a STEAM approach, or a “sustainability trans-disciplinary education model” which integrates these sciences with the arts, and the community, in an integrated model, is the primary area of concern for this study (Clark & Button, 2011).
Any education, which is provided for, or funded by, the government, needs to reflect
the national goals, and public need. As such, it is critical that STEAM education, as a pedagogical approach, be measured according to the national vision and its auspices (Carter, 2005:561). Thus, the idea of art education is critically aligned with Qatar’s National Vision. Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani said “Comprehensive development is our main goal in striving for the progress and prosperity of our people,” and a comprehensive education must include more than just science and math (Qatar National Vision 2030, 2008). It needs to be academically diverse, and include meaningful in arts areas as well.
In a study by Clark & Button (2011), the characteristics of a “sustainability trans-disciplinary education model” were examined. More specifically, as a modern model of education Clark and Button call for a model that works to create a clear relationship between arts, sciences and the needs of the community. This is important because it works to integrate the educational approach, and to offer a greater platform for inspiring students to take action within their local community, or to use their educational experience to support community betterment and innovation (Clark & Button, 2011). However, there has been some debate over the best way to meet and achieve these goals.
Traditionally, Arab schools have relied on memorization and learning by rote (Alfadala, n.d.). However, the desire to improve education moved them directly to a STEM based educational movement. And today, there is growing debate over whether or not the STEM approach is actually best for students. STEM, generally, does not recognize the value of creative skills within the competitive debate (Tarnoff, 2010). The question then becomes, whether or not students can express STEM knowledge in the absence of creative training, and to what extent it is the school districts responsibility to provide this training and skills. A 25-year longitudinal study of education, solely focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, found that there were increased collegiate educational opportunities, and that STEM accomplishments lead to better performance, long-term, from a professional perspective, specifically for those who are “mathematically talented and academically motivated” (Wai et al., 2010). However, this does not provide evidence that this educational model serves all students equally. In fact, it ignores a major percentage of the skills needed for a successful, and broad knowledge based workforce.
More specifically, a study of the American workforce, which is one of the most diverse and successful in the world, found that “Creative classes” of production, including movies, TV, games, arts, architecture, writing, designing, and other products and services, make up roughly 30 percent of the total workforce, while engineering makes up only 10 percent (Tarnoff, 2010). This means that if Qatar focuses solely on STEM education, rather than converting to a STEAM approach, they are not only failing to provide a well-rounded education, but are limiting the nation’s total economic opportunities.
This need for a balanced and academically inclusive educational experience was addressed in a study by Al-Ghanim et al (2014), it was determined that innovative learning needs implemented, in order to innovate the learning environment, so that students become more self-sufficient, and more capable of critical thinking and problem solving. The marketplace certainly demands a technically oriented worker, however students still need the critical thinking and problem solving that is developed through a versatile and varied education. As such, the implementation of a STEAM approach, that that described by Clark & Button (2011), is still essential to the nation’s overall ability to produce a skilled labor force (Al-Ghanim, et al 2014). Thus, according to Al-Ghanim et al (2014), in accordance with the goals of the Arab Knowledge Report, it is essential that educational policy makers adopt a new model of education which can change the curriculum presented to students, in terms of methodology and content, in order to provide a balanced and highly integrated educational program. As such, greater research is needed regarding how best to implement this change, and move forward the educational model used to support the Qatari educational system and pursuit of the related goals within the national vision.
This includes the development of teachers who are prepared to serve in a leadership capacity as the educational system is reformed. Teacher accreditation, and professional development is a relatively new concept, within the educational platform (Nasser & Romanowski, 2011). However, evidence suggests that teachers increasingly believe that teacher education should be mandated, and pursuit of professional degrees, by teachers plays an active role in the improvement of teaching practices, and professional communication within the educational system (Nasser & Romanowski, 2011). This would support collaboration, and the expansion of an educational system that demanded students be critical thinkers, and creative problem solvers, through enriched pedagogical techniques.
More specifically, the national vision states that the educational system should “encourage analytical and critical thinking, as well as creativity and innovation. It will promote social cohesion and respect for Qatari society’s values and heritage, and will advocate for constructive interaction with other nations” (2008: 6). In recent years, it could be argued that Arab education has been meaningfully reformed for that purpose (Rugh, 2002). There is growing concern, however, that while there is quantitative growth of education, there is no evidence that it is qualitatively effective. Rather observers increasingly question whether or not the “absence of accreditation and objective evaluation, concerning reform measures” has resulted in an educational model that is overtly focused on a very narrow area of study, and so failing to produce graduates prepared to work in the private sector (Rugh, 2002).
This is in part because the broad-based reforms have been compartmentally implemented, with little regard, or insight into how reforms must be interrelated, or change the system as a whole, in order to move toward the national vision (Hukoomi, 2017). There has not been enough examination of what is working, and what is not, or strengthening of reform, as a way to improve knowledge transfer and build human capacity (Brewer et al., 2007). As such, previous approaches focused on the lack of workers in science and technology based areas, and sought to fulfill that gap in pursuit of a knowledge-based economy, but failed to see how that could be best implemented through integration into a diverse and fully developed educational system.
While analytical and critical thinking are supported by the previous educational model, evidence suggests that creativity is not, and that arts education is need to encourage creativity and creative problem solving (Kim & Park 2012: 115). This is directly aligned with the national vision, in that children’s long term “innovation and creativity” and “participation in a wide variety of cultural and sports activities” including playing on sports teams, engaging in art, focusing on music, and other education goals is not possible without an active provision of arts education (Qatar National Vision 2030, 2008: 8).
Although the sciences are clearly critical to the future job market, an individual’s economic and social life, in the current economy, must be built on the foundation of a well-rounded education (Hansen 2014 :377; McWilliam 2010:286). Students must be motivated to pursue knowledge-based careers generally, (Rosenzweig & Wigfield 2016: 146) but also to demonstrate great creativity (Dow 2014: 15). This means that a STEAM education is more valuable, because of its ability to integrate educational areas and develop students capable of meeting their full potential. The need for integration has led to the developmental concept of STEAM, as a curricular model.
This is because education, in generally, should be built upon a foundation of a greater concept of connectedness (Young 1999: 463). Looking backward, it could be said that the reforms in Qatar were supposed to be based around four key principles “autonomy, accountability, variety and choice” however these key elements have been, to some degree, lost in the reforms (Bewer et al., 2007). As such, it is important to expand the high-quality schools, through reform of the system, in order to focus on these key principles, as both educators and educational models are developed.
The goal of education is not to make students knowledgeable, for knowledge’s sake, but rather to mold students as citizens, to have “career and economic competence, citizenship and civil responsibility, and competence in human and social relations” among other features (Sizer 2013:263). As such, integrated STEM education should be used as the primary model to reach this end goal.
I plans to use a mixed-method approach in the development of the current study. This method is appropriate because it offers both the benefits of qualitative and quantitative research approaches (Bryman 1984; Bryman 2001; Hartas, 2010). This makes it both flexible, and convenient for the study at hand. More specifically the mixed method approaches allow the study to be customized according to the societal cues that come up during the study, allowing for more accurate targeting of the research question and more detailed understanding of the topic, overall. In this case, a quantitative approach will work to measure the impact of adopting a STEAM model, while the qualitative approach will allow me to collect detailed, topic specific, descriptive data from the subjects of the research. Together, this will allow me to draw a more full picture of the problem, and potential solutions to the STEAM related issue outlined above.
Quantitative data is the collection of numerical data, which represent measurable facts, that provide a body of evidence that supports the thesis, or meaningfully answer the research questions related to the current topic. (Watkins, 2012). As such, quantitative research is critical in providing clear answers to the questions “What?” or “How many?” as it relates to the study’s key variables (Watkins 2012). In this case, the relationship to be measured is between student performance and arts education.
In pursuit of this end, the current study will do a ..
Qualitative data, on the other hand, is useful in providing descriptive information. In order to understand the way that STEAM education impacts the student in a more in-depth way, interviews and student surveys will be carried out to collect descriptive and anecdotal evidence in support of the adoption of STEAM education model.
Selection Process in Sampling
Size of Sampling
Analysis of Data
Microsoft excel, will be used for the analysis of the quantitative data collected from secondary research. This program is readily available, clear and easy to use, and will provide all the basic descriptive statistics functions needed for the current analysis. The qualitative data will be coded and analyzed according to the identified theoretical framework, based on educational theory and pedagogical best practice. This will work to demonstrate why a STEAM model is the most appropriate educational approach to meet the national vision, and how it can be best applied to provision of education within the nation.
Delivering the research proposal
Receiving feedback on proposal
Modifying the proposal according
to the feedback
Developing the literature review
Developing the desk research
Data collection and coding
Writing and interpreting the findings
Reviewing the entire research and making adjustments, where needed
Writing the conclusion and the Abstract
Presenting the first research draft to the instructor
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More Proposed questions
What are the factors related to STEAM education that impact student success, and the knowledge based economy?
Why are after school programs insufficient to meet the demands of the National Vision?
How can a STEAM education model in schools develop a stronger workforce, as it relates to converting to a knowledge-based economy?
What is the primary difference between STEM and STEAM in terms of educational models?
What are the factors that influence implementation of STEAM education in Schools?
What are the factors that hinder implementation of STEM education in Schools?
What is the importance of STEAM school structure when it comes to solving issues like poor global competitiveness, teacher innovation, teacher preparation and development, instructional style, performance management, and student empowerment.
What objectives should be established for education under the new STEAM model?
What policy is supported by best evidence when it comes to education?
How do clear objectives and specific educational concepts contribute to the success of the reformation in education?
How does the development of an educational strategic plan contribute to the success of the reformation in education?
What benefits can be garnered by creating an environment which fosters creativity among teachers?
How and why should an environment of collaboration be fostered within the school?
How can the STEAM educational model used be leveraged to emphasize the role of school leadership, including the role of teachers as innovators of pedagogy and student education ?
What are the benefits of a STEAM school structure in implementing gifted education program
What is the overarching rationale for an integrated STEAM curriculum ?
What recommendations can be based on this research?
What changes need to be made to support these recommendations?
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