Research and innovation in education.

Research and innovation in education.

Introduction

Schools have been integrating different innovations within their curriculum as one of the ways to meet the demands of the globalized business world. The presence of technology has played a critical role in the shift from traditional learning methods to modern learning methods. To counteract the working environment’s needs, schools are implementing different innovative strategies to help the student acquire relevant skills and knowledge. Innovation refers to introducing new operating methods within an organization that is aimed at assisting the organization meets its goals easily. Schools integrate different innovations based on their current needs. In Hong Kong, schools have steadily been incorporating different innovative strategies to help their students become productive. Currently, innovations can be identified in different aspects of schools and may include, but are not limited to school-based curriculum innovations, innovative school development, innovative pedagogy for student learning, and instructors as innovators. Once an innovation has been integrated within a school, students experience a refined learning way that results in increased performance Research and innovation in education.

Stamford American School Hong Kong is an excellent example of a school that has introduced innovation in its curriculum. The type of innovation introduced within the school program can be categorized as part of school-based curriculum innovations. The management of Stamford American School Hong Kong has introduced an inquiry-based innovative program known as a STEMinn program (STEMinn, 2020). The innovation was one of the first in Hong Kong and worked effectively in the school. It is a program that strictly focuses on providing the students in Hong Kong with opportunities to develop advanced core skills required for thriving in STEM subjects. STEM subjects include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These subjects are essential in the real-world, and employers are often looking for employees who possess skills in these areas. Technology has been the order of the day, and most businesses have fully embraced its use, which is why schools such as Stamford have innovated their curriculum to prepare students for the future. This paper will focus on the STEMinn innovation by Stamford American School Hong Kong and analyzes how the innovation has been implemented and its importance in supporting it with relevant literature Research and innovation in education.

Literature Review

Change is inevitable, and the schools globally have been experiencing a series of changes in the past decades. This change has been attributed to globalization. According to Marginson et al. (2013), globalization has brought forth some unexpected consequences of the online sector- for example, the introduction of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Globalization has caused a rise in the standards of education, particularly because of the raised standards of employment. Employers are constantly looking for innovative and creative individuals who can help take the organizational activities to the next step. Since the education sector is the foundation of all innovation and creativity, curriculums have had to be changed significantly to incorporate the corporate world’s needs. In Hong Kong, multiple changes have been established within the school curriculum, starting from the lowest level to the institutions of higher learning (Lo et al., 2017). Different innovations have been implemented within Hong Kong schools. Globalization has created competition, which has also affected the educational system. To be relevant and remain competitive, schools in Hong Kong and other parts of the world have implemented innovations in different departments, with each innovation aimed at enhancing the performance of the students and simultaneously attracting more students to the school.

Technology has revolutionized the education system in unbelievable ways. It has triggered the shift from traditional methods of learning to modern methods. Since technology has become a significant part of the human race, it has become crucial to integrate technology within the learning curriculum. The role of schools is to prepare learners for their future, and part of this is helping them understand more about technology and how to use it for their benefit. To ensure schools meet the appropriate standards that help prepare learners for their future, schools in Hong Kong have introduced technology within their curriculums. From the lowest level of learning, often preschool, to institutions of higher learning, different programs have been implemented through innovations addressing the technological aspects Research and innovation in education.

According to Hasanah (2020), STEM education is a program that mainly focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. It was initially referred to as SMET, an acronym representing science, math, engineering, and technology. NSF, National Science Foundation, initiated the change from SMET to STEM in 1990. Science is incorporated in the program to prepare students to think like scientists. It mostly focuses on the natural world and teaches learners to ask queries and leadinquiries following the benchmarkpractices of scientists. Technology is analteration of the traditional biosphere, transforming it to the modern world, and is mainly concerned with human needs (Marginson et al., 2013). In the STEM program, technology is used to teach learners how to focus on the natural world materials and think of what can be developed from the materials to satisfy human needs. Engineering is a profession and is used to prepare students to be creative and innovative in a world dominated by technology and science. Engineering is a profession that helps develop innovations from natural world materials economically. Mathematics is the science pattern that leads to the exact language used by technology, science, and engineering. The combination of these four specialtiesis deemed the future of the 21st century, and multiple countries have begun implementing the STEM program.

Geng et al. (2019) note that STEM education is a program designed to prepare students for a future that requires their problem solving, self-confidence, innovation, and creativity skills. The world has changed tremendously and requires logical thinkers as well as technology literate individuals. Using the four disciplines, STEM education instills and adequately equips students with proper skills to function in the technological and scientific world. Implementing STEM education is linked to increased literacy among many individuals considering the program can be used successfully at all levels of education. STEM education has begun in the 1990s and has since become a significant part of the education sector in the developed and developing nations (HO, 2017). Hong Kong has not been left behind either, sinceschools within this area have started implementing the STEM program to prepare students accordingly Research and innovation in education.

STEM education as an innovation stands out from the rest of innovation programs because its instruction is shifted from the conventional teaching that is often teacher-centered to a student-centered environment. Teachers work to help students learn how to be independent thinkers by asking critical questions and conducting investigations that aid them in acquiring relevant answers individually. Usually, STEM instruction is based on not only inquiry and argumentation but also reasoning. Cooperative instruction is emphasized particularly because this program aims to develop a student-centered learning environment, as noted by Lau et al. (2020). The world requires independent thinkers, individuals who can solve problems and develop competitive innovations. Focusing on math and science equips learners with problem-solving skills applicable in these fields. Teamwork is enhanced through this program because it focuses on the use of cooperative learning. Through STEM instruction, students are prepared for their future careers. According to Hasanah (2020), STEM instruction has a substantial impact on the attitude of learners. Students develop a positive attitude towards different careers as they are prepared to meet the needs of their future career paths adequately Research and innovation in education.

Education reform in the Hong Kong education system has been advanced through the collaboration between all relevant stakeholders. The STEM education program, among other implementations, has been advanced by collaboration activities between instructors, who are the frontline implementors, senior teachers, how are the middle school leaders, and principals, who are the school executive leaders (Kutnick et al., 2020). In the absence of this collaboration, necessary implementations deemed sufficient for the education system during the 21st century would be impossible. According to Szeto (2020), teachers and senior teachers are the relevant coordinators linked to the top-down expectation. They also advance the bottom-up practice within schools that helps learners acquire relevant skills. Furthermore, curriculum makers and leaders in the educational sector find different ways to motivate and encourage instructors and at the same time work together with these instructors to improve the implementation process of different innovations within the curriculum Research and innovation in education.

Analysis of the Implemented Innovation

The main analysis method to be integrated when analyzing the STEM education program implemented by Stamford American School Hong Kong is the qualitative analysis method. Data analysis describes the systematic application of logical strategies to derive meaningful as well as valid conclusions. Numerous analysis methods exist and are appliedbased on the type of information presented. In this case, the information presented is qualitative. Qualitative data is non-statistical data, meaning no statistics are involved. The qualitative analysis approaches best suit this research paper because it seeks to answer the why, what, as well as how questions. The presented text concerning STEM education will be analyzed based on the existing literature surrounding the innovations and reforms in Hong Kong education.

The traditional Hong Kong educational programs have often been situatedstalwartlyinspired by the Chinese conventions, including the Chinese ideals and beliefs of what is known as Confucian tradition cultures, as identified by Forestier et al. (2016). These values have often dictated how learners are taught in Hong Kong schools, with most schools relying on Chinese beliefs and values. The implemented STEM education innovation is a different concept from Chinese values and beliefs. According to Forestier et al. (2016), most educational reforms in the Hong Kong educational sector have borrowed policies from elsewhere, consequently informing and instituting reforms in the education sector. These policies are entrusted with changing the whole education sector and moving it to the modern world to prepare students for their future. The STEM education program is one of these policies that have been introduced into the Hong Kong education system and so far, implemented by schools such as Stamford American School Research and innovation in education.

Based on the literature surrounding STEM education, it is evident that its implementation is meant to change traditional education and equip students with relevant skills applicable in the real world. The STEM education, innovation implemented follows the same structure that has been proposed by multiple scholars discussing issues surrounding STEM programs. All four disciplines have been implemented into the school curriculum to help ensure students learn appropriate skills and enhance their academic performance.

Evaluation

The STEM education program innovation is working positively and influences students accordingly. Multiple changes have taken place in the world. For instance, the integration of technology in almost every sector. This means students must be equipped with relevant skills to help them maneuver the real world when done with their studies. According to Hasanah (2020), the STEM program ensures students are equipped with relevant skills, preparing them for their future. Notably, the STEM program has shifted the teacher’s focus to the student making the classroom student-centered Research and innovation in education.

Education reform is supposed to change the education program or curriculum in a way that enhances the academic performance of the students. The STEM education program is effective and affects the education curriculum positively because it helps enhance the performance of learners academically. Notably, the STEM program focuses on the four primary disciplines that are applicable in the 21st century. Technology has dominated the world, and through STEM education, learners are taught how to use technology to solve problems in the real world. Additionally, students are taught using the same technology to improve their performance, which has worked for the students at Stamford in Hong Kong. Science has dominated the world and has become an essential aspect of people’s lives. Inthe STEM program, students are taught how to question everything surrounding them and to conduct thorough investigations following the already established methods of scientific investigations (Geng et al., 2019). This helps equip them with investigative skills that prepare them to be scientists who can develop real-life problems. Engineering and mathematics are also prudent parts of this program that are necessary to develop solutions using natural materials from the environment to solve problems. These four disciplines help enhance the performance of students, particularly because education is centered on the students away from the teachers. Teachers only guide students where necessary. Furthermore, these disciplines equip students with critical thinking skills that learners utilize in their studies to improve their performance Research and innovation in education.

Although the STEM program is effective, there is one significant downside to it. It treats students as if they are on the same level of education or learning. Consequently, this may see those students at a lower level, often the underperforming student, facing challenges and frequently being left behind. As noted from the literature review, STEM education is meant to prepare students for their future and often deals with four major disciplines that could be quite challenging for underperforming students (Lau et al., 2020). All the well-prepared students have a better chance of performing well and acquiring the relevant skills brought forth by the program easily. Nonetheless, the underprivileged learners often have a difficult time as they try to process all the information mostly because their pace of learning is slower as compared to the fast learners. The way the STEM program has been developed does not at least cater for those underperforming students, which creates a challenge for them since they will mostly lag in their performance.

Discussion

The STEM program is effective in influencing positive thinking and performance among students. At Stamford, the STEMinn program begins at age five and is meant to trigger and drive innovative thinking among learners. It is meant to inculcate a higher order of thinking among the students, so they are successful by graduating. Currently, the STEMinn program at Stamford focuses on design thinking and follows a series of steps; investigate, design, creates, and evaluate. The principle aim of this design thinking process is to transform a student’s idea into a practical solution that is capable of solving a problem experienced in the real world. According to Hasanah(2020), one of the primaries aims of developing and implementing the STEM program is to help students develop problem-solving skills. The Stamford program seems to be in the right direction concerning this through the design thinking steps. Students are taught how to develop solutions to problems encountered in the surrounding environment. Instead of being theoretical, the STEMinn program is practical, whereby learners develop solutions they can apply to real world problems facing them. This is appropriate since the change experienced in the world due to technology and innovations has subsequently brought in new problems. These problems require solutions, and employers in the corporate world are constantly seeking creative and problem-solving individuals. The design thinking approach integrated as part of the STEMinn program is established to ensure students become creative because creativity is the only way to be effective problem solvers.

The effectiveness of the STEMinn program in increasing student performance is evident through creating a student-centered learning environment. Unlike in the traditional curriculum, where education was teacher-centered, with the STEMinn program, the student is the main focus of an education. Different instructional methods that are student-centered are utilized. Students learn how to solve problems because education is student-centered. They are allowed to develop knowledge through the active guidance of their teachers.

The STEMinn program at Stamford school is effective because of the integrated projects. Instructors help learners develop large-scale as well as small-scale projects. Some of the large-scale projects in the lower classes include the Light Up Learning project. In this project, learners present multimedia presentations concerning renewable energy. Simultaneously, students engage in the development of solar lights meant to be donated. Other activities include visiting various places that can help them become creative such as the Volvo Ocean Race (STEMinn, 2020). The STEMinn program implemented in Stamford nurtures the tech skills of students since they are engaged in activities such as coding as well as robotics. The school focuses on technology and engineering. This combination results in critical and creative thinking since learners can develop products useful in solving human problems.

Stamford School has taken it upon itself to include useful resources in the curriculum to help learners develop the necessary skills. The administration has provided high-tech and low-tech resources for students to use, such as augmented reality, 3-D printers, and virtual reality goggles, among other tools (STEMinn, 2020). These tools and resources are meant to help students build an appropriate foundation for their education. Because of the availability of all resources linked to the STEMinn program, the academic performance of students has increased drastically. Students have been equipped with relevant skills such as critical and creative thinking as well as problem-solving skills. When applied to education, these skills assist learners in improving their academic performance because the STEM program is more practical than theoretical, as stated by Kutnick et al. (2020). In addition, student performance enhances because the program is student-oriented instead of teacher-centered. With students at the center of the program, they become independent thinkers who acquire information in the best way possible.

Conclusion

The Hong Kong education system has changed a lot because of the reforms that have been integrated through adopting new policies. Traditionally, the Hong Kong education system was strongly influenced by Chinese values as well as beliefs. Nevertheless, due to the changes in the global education system triggered by globalization, reforms have been witnessed in the Hong Kong education system, with numerous schools implementing innovations. Stamford American School Hong Kong has not been left behind either, since it has implemented the STEMinn program in its curriculum. This program mainly dwells on four disciplines, namely Science, Technology, Engineering, as well as Mathematics. The implementation of this program is effective because it helps learners acquire relevant skills essential for their higher education and future careers. STEMinn program is centered around the learner, shifting the focus from the traditional learning system that dwelt on the teacher. Students are equipped with problem-solving skills through learningpractical skills instead of theoretical skills. Through design thinking, students get to be innovative by being critical and creative thinkers. Although the STEMinn program is believed to be effective as per the analysis from the literature utilized, underperforming students may be left behind because the program fails to account for their needs. Overall, STEMinn innovation has changed the Stamford curriculum and helped enhance the academic performance of students at every level Research and innovation in education.

References

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Geng, J., Jong, M. S. Y., & Chai, C. S. (2019). Hong Kong teachers’ self-efficacy and concerns about STEM education. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 28(1), 35-45.

Hasanah, U. (2020). Key Definitions of STEM Education: Literature Review. Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 16(3), e2217.

HO, C. S. M. (2017). Entrepreneurship education: The missing links of STEM education in Hong Kong.

Kutnick, P., Lee, B. P. Y., Chan, R. Y. Y., & Chan, C. K. Y. (2020). Students’ engineering experience and aspirations within STEM education in Hong Kong secondary schools. International Journal of Educational Research, 103, 101610.

Lau, W. W., Jong, M. S., Cheng, G. K., & Chu, S. K. (2020, June). Teachers’ Concerns about STEM Education in Hong Kong. In EdMedia+ Innovate Learning (pp. 344-347). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Lo, J. T. Y., Cheng, I. N. Y., & Wong, E. M. Y. (2017). Hong Kong’s curriculum reform: intentions, perceptions, and practices. Asian Education and Development Studies.

Marginson, S., Tytler, R., Freeman, B., & Roberts, K. (2013). STEM: Country comparisons: international comparisons of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Final report.

STEMinn. (2020, July 17). Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.sais.edu.hk/curriculum/steminn/

Szeto, E. (2020). School leadership in the reforms of the Hong Kong education system: insights into school-based development in policy borrowing and indigenising. School leadership & management, 40(4), 266-287.