Conceptualizing Early Childhood STEM Interest Development as a Distributed System: A Preliminary Framework

May 6th, 2016 | RESEARCH

Head Start on Engineering (HSE) is a collaborative, NSF-funded research and practice project designed to develop and refine a theoretical model of early childhood, engineering-related interest development. The project focuses on Head Start families with four-year-old children from low-income communities and is being carried out collaboratively by researchers, science center educators, and a regional Head Start program. In this paper, we outline a preliminary conceptual framework for describing early childhood STEM interest development, which will be used to guide data collection and program development for the HSE project. Departing significantly from past conceptualizations, our approach frames interest development as a distributed, family-level phenomenon that is characterized by shifts in beliefs, behaviors, and resources across children and parents. To begin, we highlight current challenges in studying early childhood interest development, and family learning more broadly, that have motivated work on this systems-level approach. We then describe three theoretical perspectives (the four-phase model of interest development, lines of practice theory, and distributed cognition) that have informed this project and how we have applied these perspectives to our understanding of early childhood interest development.



Team Members

Scott Pattison, Author, Institute for Learning Innovation
Gina Navoa Svarovsky, Author, University of Notre Dame
Pam Greenough Corrie, Author, Mt. Hood Community College Head Start
Marcie Benne, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Veronika Nuñez, Author, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Lynn Dierking, Author, Oregon State University
Monae Verbeke, Author, Institute for Learning Innovation


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1515628
Funding Amount: 299070

Related URLs

Head Start on Engineering


Access and Inclusion: Low Socioeconomic Status
Audience: Evaluators | Families | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Engineering
Resource Type: Conference Proceedings | Reference Materials
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | Museum and Science Center Programs | Pre-K | Early Childhood Programs | Public Programs