Purdue University Graduate School
QClark_Dissertation_Deposit_6.25.21.v5.pdf (3.92 MB)

Design, Implementation, and Assessment of Mathematical Modeling of Agriculturally Based STEM Activities at the Elementary Grade Level

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posted on 2021-06-25, 10:53 authored by Quintana M ClarkQuintana M Clark

Contextual learning experiences using integrated STEM, agricultural sciences (AgS), and mathematical modeling (model eliciting activities [MEAs]) can be a powerful approach to engage students from urban areas in STEM literacy, career exploration, and community awareness. This three-study dissertation contributes to: (1) an innovative framework for an MEA design process and features; (2) an innovative model for MEA research and implementation; and (3) assessment data of students’ interest in and motivation to learn integrated STEM and AgS, all of which culminated in the novel MEAs that facilitated contextual learning experiences that use AgS contexts. This study also provides insight into innovative teaching and learning instructional approaches aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In particular, mathematical modeling, an emphasized topic in elementary grades’ standards and curriculum, is addressed. This work draws from a larger, nationally funded project that examined integrated STEM learning experiences and teacher development. In the context of this dissertation project, I designed, developed, implemented, and assessed seven AgS MEAs. Each of the AgS MEAs addressed a local societal challenge (i.e., health and human diet, food security/insecurity, alternative energy, and green space utilization). The first study describes a process for designing and developing AgS MEAs. Data sources for this qualitative study included iterative documentation and expert evaluations. The central finding of this study was a process for designing and developing AgS MEAs. The second study describes a model for MEA research and implementation. Data sources included semi-structured teacher interviews, recorded teacher development sessions, and documented expert consultations. The central finding of this study was a model for implementing MEAs which supports contextual teaching and learning, self-regulated learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, multiple contexts, authentic assessment, and interdependence. The third study assessed students’ interest in and motivation to learn STEM and AgS. Data sources included topic-related questionnaires. Findings from this study suggest that AgS MEAs may positively promote interest in and motivation to learn AgS, STEM, and STEM career exploration.


National Science Foundation, ITEST Grant, #1513256


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Levon T. Esters

Additional Committee Member 2

Jonathan D. Bostic

Additional Committee Member 3

Brenda Capobianco

Additional Committee Member 4

Pamala V. Morris

Additional Committee Member 5

Mark Tucker

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