Empowering Parental Engagement in STEM Education is Focus of Tan’s Research

Posted on November 09, 2022

Edna Tan Headshot

Backed by funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, Dr. Edna Tan, Hooks Distinguished Professor of STEM Education at the School of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at UNC Greensboro, will conduct research with her team into designing and studying new modes of empowering parental engagement in STEM teacher-parent partnerships. Her research has always been centered on designing justice-oriented STEM teaching and learning across formal and informal settings, working with minoritized youth in communities as a response to the historical and enduring marginalization of youth of color in K-12 STEM education.

Tan’s research is in response to the continued racial and class gaps in STEM achievement for minoritized students. With previously established research-practice partnerships (RPP) in place with middle school teachers and youth of color in communities across both North Carolina and Michigan, the research group, including colleagues from the University of Michigan, is well-positioned to engage in this project.

Research has shown that middle school is the time when students’ interest in STEM drops off. While many middle class parents have been able to influence their children’s schooling, parents of minoritized students have not.

Interviews will be conducted with teachers to understand their view of the parent community at their school and the role of the parents in the student’s STEM education. Parents will also be interviewed throughout the process regarding their goals for engagement and how the organizing discourses have changed their participation in their child’s STEM education. Students will be observed in the classroom to explore the intersections between modes of parental presence as they appear in instruction and the opportunities that are presented for STEM learning for the children.

By entering into a partnership with Guilford County Schools for this project, Tan expects to shift the way teachers engage and integrate parents in STEM instruction and engagement. The result would be a marked increase in STEM opportunities for those minoritized students.