This post is sponsored by VEX Robotics
Educational robotics is an engaging way to apply hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), improve student learning in STEM topics, and bolster positive perceptions of STEM subjects.
However, the advances and advantages of educational robotics outpace formal teacher professional development – leaving teachers feeling less than confident as they try to implement robotics in their lessons.
Educational robotics PD supports teachers
Advancements in educational robotics move quickly, along with the technology that powers them, making it nearly impossible for teachers to keep up without some form of continuing learning, or professional development. This is the exact reason educational robotics platform VEX Robotics offers free professional development for teachers.
The free VEX Certified Educator program consists of eight different courses that connect teachers with educational robotics pedagogy and knowledge. The certification courses are designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the robots, from construction to programming, to implementing the curriculum in the classroom. Over 14,000 teachers globally have completed Vex Robotics courses and are certified.
VEX Robotics PD courses begin with learning objectives for the content to follow. Lessons are aligned to those objectives, as well as formative practice questions that test their understanding of the material by answering practice questions in the same learning-by-doing method that has been shown to be beneficial for students. Teachers have the opportunity to continue to answer each question until they answer correctly. The end of each unit contains an exam with a set of questions that covers the content and learning objectives. Once the teacher successfully completes all units in the course, teachers are issued a certificate of completion.
The certification is the tangible evidence of something unseen, though: Higher confidence and technique in teachers when it comes to incorporating educational robotics in their lessons.
Measuring the effectiveness of educational robotics PD
To better understand how these courses were impacting teachers, VEX Robotics emailed a short survey to teachers who had completed their courses. A total of 491 teachers ranging in age from 19 to 75+ responded. The majority of teachers found that the VEX Robotics certification courses helped increase their confidence and knowledge for teaching robotics in the classroom. This was especially important when it came to teachers without any prior experience teaching STEM subjects, who reported lower levels of confidence in teaching robotics at the start of the certification program.
When teachers feel confident and knowledgeable and have interactive and well-designed lessons to share with their students, the positivity that radiates from student experiences propels them in the direction of STEM subjects, instead of away from them.
Early exposure to science and math builds excitement around robotics, science, math, and even STEM careers. High quality PD gives teachers the skills they need for classroom instruction, the confidence to engage students in robotics projects, and the ability to support students through difficulties and teach science topics through robotics. When teachers create engaging, hands-on experiences found organically through robotics improves comprehension to help students achieve a variety of educational goals and fosters a love of STEM learning that leads to a lifetime of success.
VEX Robotics is the global leader in STEM education, offering the VEX continuum to help students of all abilities find success quickly and also grow their STEM knowledge and competencies. Learn more about how we empower educators to engage and inspire the STEM innovators and problem-solvers of today and tomorrow.