STEM Integration: An Exploration of K-12 Science and Mathematics Teachers' Implementation Strategies

Corey A Mathis, Purdue University


In the United States, national policies have highlighted the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education reform. Two aspects that have received attention in K-12 education are integrating engineering into classroom curricula and developing students’ understanding of the interconnected nature of each of the STEM disciplines. Currently, students and teachers in secondary education often experience each STEM discipline in isolation. Therefore, research needs to explore how STEM integration is enacted in the current educational structures. The following research questions guided this study: What are the implementation approaches that multidisciplinary teams of teachers use for planning and implementing integrated STEM curricula within their classrooms? What factors influence the implementation approaches and roles teachers in multidisciplinary teams select for implementing STEM integration curricula? ^ An exploratory case study design was used to gain insight into the types of STEM integration approaches mathematics and science teacher teams selected and to identify the factors that influenced their choices in each of their schools’ organizational structures. Teams of teachers were selected from those who participated in a summer professional development workshop for middle school and high school mathematics and science teachers. The goal of this workshop was to support teachers in the development and implementation of STEM integration lessons using engineering design as the means of integrating mathematics and science. Data were collected during the professional development on 10 different teams to understand the approaches and roles that emerged. Additional data were collected during the implementation of the STEM integration lesson for two teams. ^ Findings show that STEM integration was implemented by teachers using either an individual approach or collaborative approaches. Factors that influenced teachers’ implementation approach included school organizational structures, scope and sequence of the curriculum, time, and teachers’ level of control over each. Factors that influenced teachers’ roles included their comfort with content and pedagogy, perceptions of STEM integration, and professional responsibilities. Based on the findings, implications for teachers, schools, and professional development providers for successful STEM integration within middle and high school classrooms are provided.^




Tamara J. Moore, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education|Engineering|Science education

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