International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

Developing integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects in education DeCoito, Isha


Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is an emphasis which stresses a multidisciplinary approach for better preparing all students in STEM subjects, and increasing the number of postsecondary graduates who are prepared for STEM occupations. The ability to understand and use STEM facts, principles, and techniques are highly transferable skills that enhance an individual’s ability to succeed in school and beyond, across a wide array of disciplines. This study focuses on STEM projectbased learning which integrates engineering design principles, mathematics, science, and technology concepts with the K-12 curriculum. The infusion of design principles enhances real-world applicability and helps prepare students for post-secondary education, with an emphasis on making connections to what STEM professionals actually do in their jobs. This study adopts an integrated approach to teaching STEM education and is grounded in situated cognition theory which highlights the fact that understanding how knowledge and skills can be applied is as important as learning the knowledge and skills itself, as well as recognizing that the contexts are critical to the learning process. This study is unique as it examines the attributes of STEM education using an organic approach to curriculum development and a unique focus on STEM concepts borne of the motivation to reinforce and integrate engineering, math, and science concepts. To be effective, teachers need content knowledge and expertise in teaching that content, but research suggests that science and mathematics teachers are underprepared for these demands; weak initial teacher preparation heightens the importance of continuing professional development. This mixed-methods study explored teacher candidates’ development of 15 digital STEM projects focusing on various topics, including the environment and sustainability, health and well-being, energy efficiency, and climate change. Through the development of STEM projects, findings reveal that teacher candidates’ interest and engagement in STEM increased, and their understanding of STEM education and learning of STEM concepts were positively impacted as they designed curricula addressing STEM education.

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