MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BLOSSOMS STEM Research Paper to Appear in Journal

February 21, 2016

 A new paper, coauthored by Richard Larson and Elizabeth Murray, “STEM Education: Inferring Promising Systems Changes from Experiences with MIT BLOSSOMS,” has been accepted for publication in the journal, Systems Research and Behavioral Science. The authors reflect on their practice with the MIT BLOSSOMS program, building from eight years of BLOSSOMS experiences in ten countries. 

The intent is twofold: (1) to describe the BLOSSOMS program that provides freely available interactive STEM video lessons for high school classes worldwide and (2) to extrapolate from these experiences certain systems problems within traditional STEM education at the secondary school level and to offer ameliorative recommendations for change.

The education systems problems discussed include: (1) Memorization over critical thinking; (2) Shallow and wide curricula; (3) Lack of room for teachers’ creativity and experimentation; (4) For many teachers, lack of in-depth content knowledge; (5) Poor quality professional development programs for teachers; and (6) Lack of compelling career paths for teachers. The paper argues that—to be effective—several system changes must be made at one time, as history has shown that one-at-a-time simple innovations are rarely transformative.

Journal publication is expected in the fall (2016), with the intent that the entire issue of the journal will be devoted to education. The BLOSSOMS paper will be accompanied by two shorter pieces, published back to back, by authors from Pakistan and Malaysia—summarizing their own education systems issues discovered while working with BLOSSOMS in those two countries.