STEM education K-12: perspectives on integration

English, Lyn D. (2016) STEM education K-12: perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(3), pp. 1-8.

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This commentary was stimulated by Yeping Li's first editorial (2014) citing one of the journal's goals as adding multidisciplinary perspectives to current studies of single disciplines comprising the focus of other journals. In this commentary I argue for a greater focus on STEM integration, with a more equitable representation of the four disciplines in studies purporting to advance STEM learning.

The STEM acronym is often used in reference to just one of the disciplines, commonly science. Although the integration of STEM disciplines is increasingly advocated in the literature, studies that address multiple disciplines appear scant with mixed findings and inadequate directions for STEM advancement. Perspectives on how discipline integration can be achieved are varied, with reference to multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches adding to the debates. Such approaches include core concepts and skills being taught separately in each discipline but housed within a common theme; the introduction of closely linked concepts and skills from two or more disciplines with the aim of deepening understanding and skills; and the adoption of a transdisciplinary approach, where knowledge and skills from two or more disciplines are applied to real-world problems and projects with the aim of shaping the total learning experience.

Research that targets STEM integration is an embryonic field with respect to advancing curriculum development and various student outcomes. For example, we still need more studies on how student learning outcomes arise not only from different forms of STEM integration but also from the particular disciplines that are being integrated. As noted in this commentary, it seems that mathematics learning benefits less than the other disciplines in programs claiming to focus on STEM integration. Factors contributing to this finding warrant more scrutiny. Likewise, learning outcomes for engineering within K-12 integrated STEM programs appear under-researched. This commentary advocates a greater focus on these two disciplines within integrated STEM education research. Drawing on recommendations from the literature, suggestions are offered for addressing the challenges of integrating multiple disciplines faced by the STEM community.

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ID Code: 94421
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: STEM Integration, STEM research, Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary, Transdisciplinary integration, Mathematics Education, Engineering Education
DOI: 10.1186/s40594-016-0036-1
ISSN: 2196-7822
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 English, Lyn D.
Copyright Statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Deposited On: 06 Apr 2016 23:41
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2016 23:41

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