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STEPs in the Right Direction

July 24, 2012 — 

Dr. Richard Hechter works with educational partners to better integrate technology into science classrooms

Dr. Richard Hechter

Conducting grassroots, teacher driven, action-based research is Dr. Richard Hechter’s approach to helping every child and teacher improve the learning and teaching of science in Manitoba. His latest research project began with an invitation to all the schools and school divisions in Manitoba to join him for a lunch at the Fort Garry Campus. 50 people representing 35 of the 38 school divisions, faculty from all four Manitoba universities, representatives from 8 independent schools, and members of Manitoba Education accepted the invitation and when asked, “What is the biggest issue in science education in the province right now?” overwhelmingly answered “Technology.”

As a result, Dr. Hechter began his research by developing the Science, Technology, and Educational Partnerships (STEPs) initiative. This initiative, in conjunction with the Manitoba Education Research and Learning Information Networks (MERLIN) is making it possible for Dr. Hechter and the province to partner with schools and their divisions to investigate the impact of technology integration in the science classroom.

Dr. Hechter explains, “Manitoba stands at a critical time in its educational history. Schools and school divisions continue to purchase modern technologies for integration into K-12 classrooms. These actions are praiseworthy and well-intended reactions to students with digital fluency entering their classrooms. However, as much as the students of the 21st century deserve modern technology, they also deserve for it to be well integrated by their teachers.”

In order to investigate how technologies are being integrated into the classroom and to see ways to improve the effectiveness of the use of technology to teach, Dr. Hechter is working with teachers through the STEPs initiative. This initiative provides teachers the opportunity and framework needed to consider how technology affects student achievement, student engagement, and the impact of technology on teacher engagement. It also initiates a process where teachers who use technology in the classroom can assist and support each other.

The steps to STEPs include:

  1. Providing leadership and opportunity for the development and sustainability of community- partnered projects across Manitoba school divisions;
  2. Building Manitoba teachers’ capacity to design,  develop and implement community-partnered, research projects to inform their own teaching practice;
  3. Advancing and sharing knowledge of the impacts of effective technology integration in science education in Manitoba; and
  4. Advancing and sharing knowledge of the impacts of a ground-up (versus top-down) teacher  development model.

Dr. Richard Hechter is an award winning teacher and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. For more information see the Faculty Directory at www.umanitoba.ca/education.

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