Rapidly advancing STEM knowledge and STEM capabilities provide a significant foundation for shaping the wellbeing of individuals and societies and represents major human intellectual and cultural accomplishments. We envision a world in which all people can develop and use their STEM knowledge to its fullest potential and throughout their lifespan to enhance the vitality of individual lives, society, and the natural world.
The center mission is to improve understanding of how all people learn STEM throughout the lifespan and across formal and informal settings.
The center was established in 2012 to work across campus to enhance OSUs capacity in STEM learning research, and the impact of this research on the practice of teaching and learning. Within the context of OSU, STEM includes the natural, physical and social sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, as single disciplines or in any combination, and extends to the integrative STEM disciplines forestry, agriculture, fisheries, (veterinary) medicine, and health sciences. The center is unique among STEM center counterparts around the country in its focus on research and its commitment to understanding learning and engagement across all settings (in and out of school) and across the lifespan, for all audiences, ranging from young to old learners, laypeople to STEM professionals, within both formal educational and free-choice learning contexts and settings. The STEM learning research focus of the center includes the diverse suite of research and evaluation efforts focused on how people with diverse backgrounds and life circumstances build knowledge and understanding about STEM, develop identities as STEM learners and dispositions to engage with STEM-related issues, and ultimately build capacity to apply that knowledge and understanding to their daily and professional lives. STEM learning research also includes the study of methods, institutions, media and people who play a role in mediating learning (e.g. schools, museums, magazines, teachers, etc.) and therefore includes research and evaluation of STEM education and science communication. The center serves as a neutral broker for a diverse and decentralized community of those who engage in STEM learning research internally at OSU by functioning as a central hub and institutional support structure, and externally by representing OSU STEM learning research at the state, national and international levels.
The major initiatives at the center include 1) institutionalization of tools and capacities to expand the societal benefit or ‘broader impacts’ of the OSU research enterprise as related to the center mission, the OSU signature areas of distinction and land grant mission; 2) redefining and modeling undergraduate success; and 3) leadership research in both Free-choice and formal learning arenas. You can learn more about our research and projects here.