Shape Your STEAM Career With Morphological Synthesis

The purpose of Shape Your STEAM Career With Morphological Synthesis is to enable students aged 14-18 to recognize their STEAM career opportunities with morphological synthesis (or morphological analysis) method and to shape their own career paths. Morphological synthesis; It is a creative thinking technique used to reveal a product, problem or situation in an original way by blending acquired information with new information in an extraordinary way. At least two objects/ideas/process etc. are required in order to apply the technique that brings innovations together by combining the blended elements by losing their characteristics. Within the scope of morphological synthesis, first the product, situation or problem is determined. Later, some characteristics of the item like objects, ideas, tools, etc. are determined, choices are made within these characteristics, and the selected items are brought together. With this combination, original productions emerge.

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The implementation context

60 students attended the first step of the event and 20 students attended the workshops phase. Through a Google Form shared with the students, their wishes to participate in the career-related workshop to be held were asked. Almost all of the students wanted to attend the workshops. The 20 students with the highest motivation were determined for the workshops to be carried out more efficiently. The records of the workshops were shared with other students and they were also included in the process. All of the students are attended to the computer science department. Due to the pandemic, all activities were held online. Students who are digitally literate are between 14 and 17 years old have taken basic coding training. Their participation and motivation to such events is extremely high.

The narrative

First step: Our school signed a protocol with Prof. Dr. Serçin KARATAŞ, a STEM Professional. Professor KARATAŞ, who has been involved in numerous STEM projects in Turkey and manages doctoral dissertations on STEM education, will also conduct an online webinar and workshop series for STEM Career with our students. In this step, the steps in The STEM Alliance Guide for Schools document have been implemented. Brief information about the career of STEM Professional, Professor KARATAŞ, is available under this blog.

Second step: On March 5, 2021, Prof. KARATAŞ made a presentation on the importance of coding education and which professions students can choose by improving their coding skills. Approximately 60 students attended the presentation. In her presentation, Prof. KARATAŞ referred to the professions introduced on The STEM Alliance / STE (A) M IT Career Sheets website, helping them to establish a coding relationship with the skills and competencies required by these professions. At the end of the event, studies were carried out for the next step of the project. The activity lasted 75 minutes.

Third step: The workshop was held with 20 students on 20 April 2021. In this workshop, Prof. KARATAŞ applied the Enhance your teaching to tackle career guidance related learning goals activity, which is one of the proposed activities in The STE (A) M IT Guidelines on how to present STEM jobs in classroom document (page 12), with morphological synthesis method. The event lasted 120 minutes.

Prof. KARATAŞ gave time to the students by saying a concept, and the students drew pictures for this concept and shared it with the group. She then gave information about the creative thinking dimensions of elaboration, originality, flexibility and fluency and asked students to draw a new drawing. Students paid attention to these 4 dimensions in their new drawings and developed different perspectives. At this stage, She completed the Guess Who section of the Enhance your teaching to tackle career guidance related learning goals (page 13) activity, which is one of the proposed activities in The STE (A) M IT Guidelines on how to present STEM jobs in classroom document.

She used the SCAMPER technique, one of the creative thinking techniques, in the SWOT my profession section (page 13). In this technique, people are asked questions about the steps that make up the name of the technique, and individuals in the answering position are expected to change an idea and / or object. The students imagined hippos and deer, respectively, by observing and closing. Meanwhile, She asked the students questions and made them think deeply. In the last stage, what would it be like if deer and hippo were one animal?,she asked the students to draw by asking the question. In this way, the students performed the SWOT analysis steps on animals implicitly.

With this workshop, students gained creative thinking skills and prepared for the next workshop. In the next workshop, it aims to enable students to choose a STEM profession by blending different skills and competencies. At the end of the workshop, computer science teacher Selçuk Arslan made a presentation to the students about The STEM Alliance / STE (A) M IT Career Sheets and asked each student to examine a profession in depth and present it to the group in the next workshop.

Fourth step: In the workshop held on April 27, 2021, the students examined and presented the professions on The STEM Alliance / STE (A) M IT Career Sheets site to the group. After the presentation, Prof. KARATAŞ made applications for morphological synthesis with students and also talked about another creative thinking technique, guided brain storm. In the last part of the workshop, it was moved to the section Introduction to job searching (page 14) in the source of The STE (A) M IT Guidelines on how to present STEM jobs in classroom. In this context, the students were asked to choose a profession by using The STEM Alliance / STE (A) M IT Career Sheets with morphological synthesis method and design an imaginary LinkedIn profile for this profession. Students’ questions were answered and 1 day was given.

This study will be evaluated as the learning outcomes of the workshop. With the feedback form prepared, the session was ended by receiving the feedback of the students regarding the process. The activity lasted 120 minutes.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcome of this activity is that students identify a STEM profession with morphological synthesis method and imagine this profession with a LinkedIn profile design. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on the profession they have chosen by reflecting the knowledge of the profession they have chosen or imagined, the required skills and competencies, the certificate programs they need to complete, etc. on their profiles. Some examples of learning outcomes are presented below.

Student Comments: Atilla, who wants to be an Astro Game Producer, wants to introduce the recently popular space field to the people with his games. That’s why he combined game design with space. He dreamed of taking Gamification, Basic Space Training, Unity and Unreal Engine and Game Design, and Mobile Programming with Flutter. He completed the profile of his dream profession by adding that he is competent in game design, coding skills and the awards he received.

In the profiles they created, the students created new professions such as Gastronomy Musician considering their own creativity and skills as well as choosing the professions such as Astrophotographer, Astrobiologist, Space Psychologist etc. on the STEM Alliance Career Sheet website. In addition, it is seen that they adapt the professions in the STEM Alliance Career Sheet with an interdisciplinary approach and combine them with other professions in the light of morphological synthesis.

Teaching outcomes

My purpose of doing this activity is to introduce career opportunities to students through cooperation in STEM education. We conducted a long-term study with Prof. Dr. Serçin KARATAŞ, one of the professionals in the STEM field in Turkey. We have achieved invaluable learning outcomes. My advice to other educators who will do this kind of work is to establish the right cooperation first. While establishing these collaborations, using the STEM Alliance and STE (A) M IT documents mentioned in this blog will make their work easier. These documents, which guided us while designing this study with Prof Karataş, attracted the attention of our students. Apart from these documents, sources for morphological synthesis, which is Prof. KARATAŞ’s area of expertise, were also used. Although all activities were online, they were carried out practically in abundance. Documents for morphological synthesis used by Prof Karataş are listed below:

The process was both very instructive for both the teacher and students, the progress of the participating students in both creative thinking processes was magnificent and it was great to observe the differentiation in students’ choice of profession. While watching the students’ career development journey, both Selçuk teacher and the STEM Professional Prof. Serçin KARATAŞ had also opportunity to draw attention of their professional development. At the end of this study, we believe that the career paths of the students participating in this study will be very different than before they joined the study. As the Great Leader Atatürk said, “The rising new generation, you are the future.”

I would like to thank STEM Professional, Prof. KARATAŞ, for this work, which I believe to be both unique and beneficial for my students, and STEM Alliance and STEAM (IT) for the documents we benefited during the event. I wish that more students prefer STEAM fields …

STEM Professional, Prof. Dr. Serçin KARATAŞ

Sercin Karatas is a Professor at the department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology, Gazi University in Turkey. She got her PhD degree from Ankara University (Educational Technology). She got her Bachelor and MSc degrees from Department of Computer Science Education at Gazi University. While she was a student at the university, she also worked for Siemens Business Services as a part-time PC and Network Support Specialist for three years. She has more than 20 years’ experience in focusing on the theoretical and applications of online learning and creative thinking in learning environments. Her research area includes theories and applications of online learning, instructional design, design principles for online learning, interaction in online learning, L(C)MS, and creativity for (online) learning and gamification in learning. She has many national and international articles, reports and book chapters on these issues. In this field, she has conducted various courses, seminars and trainings both face-to-face and online, from pre-service to doctoral level. She has also been working as an instructor, researcher, and consultant in Scientific Research Projects. She also works for Erasmus+ projects. In one of the continuing Erasmus+ Project titled Standardization of STEM and Coding Trainings, she is leading the Gazi University team as a partner organization. She is one of the authors of the book titled Different Approaches in STEM Trainers’ Training has recently published in March 2021, and again she is one of the authors of the book titled ‘Key Approaches for The Training of Coding Trainers’ is in publish. She was also a researcher in the coordinator team of the Erasmus + Project titled ‘Strategies for Talented and Gifted Pupils’ Teachers’. She was responsible for analyzing, designing, producing and evaluation process of the animations for the teachers. She was the director of Center of Distance Education at Gazi University in 2018-2019. She is leading a Community of Online Learning: Research & Development till February 2021. She has consulted numerous master’s and doctoral thesis related to STEM education. For her STEM Trainers’ Training Book: