STILES: Transforming STEM Learning Systematic Transformation for Inquiry Learning ENvironments (STILE) for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Lead PI: Anne Lee Degnan , Ellen Meier

Unit Affiliation: The Earth Institute

October 2012 - September 2016
North America ; New York City, NY ; New York
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) at Teachers College, Columbia University and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia University's Earth Institute are working in partnership with three STEM focused New York City schools (K-8) to develop a systemic, transformative approach for interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning. The planned model prepares teachers to design innovative, authentic STEM projects, and supports administrators in leading such efforts. CTSC has identified key elements of a robust design process to help teachers move from business- as-usual pedagogy to dramatically new practices in content, pedagogy, and technology use. The program also identifies an interdisciplinary STEM perspective, supported with experts from CERC who provide STEM fieldwork expertise as part of the overall design. Moreover, the project creates research and educational collaborations with diverse, community-based groups (e.g., urban nature centers). The project uses a mobile learning platform to leverage social networking among schools, teachers, students, STEM experts, parents and the community. The goal of the grant is to establish a culture of inquiry with all partners in order to develop interdiciplinary, authentic STEM learning environments. Design-based research provides iterative cycles of implementation to explore and refine the approach as a transformative model for STEM programs. The model supports a sustainable approach by building the capacity of schools to focus on design issues related to content, pedagogy, and leadership.

OUTCOMES: This model addresses the need for a systemic approach to radically redefine STEM learning. It seeks to develop a replicable model that builds on research findings and provides a comprehensive approach for the development and teaching of STEM topics in grades K - 8, an underrepresented audience. STILE establishes research and educational collaborations with diverse, urban groups and develops a culture of inquiry with all partners in the grant. The program identifies and establishes collaborations between the STEM disciplines, and includes partnership with a neighborhood nature center and similar institutions to support community projects. The initiative will also present research and education results in formats useful to practitioners, policy-makers, members of Congress, industry, and broad audiences at conferences, in peer-reviewed journals, and through the mobile learning platform created for this project.


Teachers College Columbia University


National Science Foundation




Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES)



education leadership stem social networking pedagogy community groups